USF basketball recruiting: Meet Skippy Walnuts
It's been a big week for USF basketball recruiting, and we've largely neglected it on the blog and barely addressed it on Twitter. So ...
-- We wrote briefly about Stan Heath scoring a commitment from his younger son, Josh Heath, who led Tampa Prep to a state title last season. Talked to Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon last week, and he believes Heath is the best player in the state -- cites his leadership, superior court vision, ability to pass and score and make the players around him better. He said Heath's offer list -- mostly small schools like Lehigh (where, I should note, my dad went to school) and North Florida and such -- is a function of higher-level schools, including other Big East programs, long ago conceding that Heath was going to play for his father at USF.
Josh has a great relationship with guard Anthony Collins, who will have a two-year overlap with Heath and with another committed guard, Drew Davis, who's a teammate and close friend to Bulls commitment John Egbunu, now a national top-100 recruit and a big get for USF.
-- Heath's latest commitment, Bartow's Chris Perry, puts himself at 6-foot-9 and 236 pounds, which means he has a Gus Gilchrist type frame seven months before his high school graduation. He's another national top-100 recruit -- ESPN has Egbunu at No. 70 nationally and Perry at No. 94. It's also worth noting that with Egbunu and Davis moving from suburban Atlanta to Fort Walton Beach this summer, all four USF commitments are now playing in Florida. ESPN has six Florida kids in its top 100, and USF has two (Florida has two, with Georgia Tech and Memphis getting the others.)
USF beat out a solid list of suitors for Perry -- UCF, Cincinnati, Tulsa were the three other finalists, he told me. He liked that Stan Heath was on him early, not only as his first offer but as someone who consistently was at his games to reinforce that interest. He had a good relationship with second-year assistant Andy Hipsher, who has now helped recruit two big gets for the Bulls in this and freshman guard JaVontae Hawkins from Michigan.
Perry is active on Twitter at @CP33allday -- he goes by "Skippy Walnuts" on there, which is amusing all by itself. We tweeted on Saturday that it was impressive from a fan-smarts perspective to see USF's student section making posters with shoutouts to Perry and Clayton, and sure enough, the signs were noticed, not only by sites like SI.com but by the recruits, during the game and after as well.
Perry, like Heath, now goes from recruit to recruiter, and he said he'll go to work on another Bulls target who visited campus with those two over the weekend: Orlando Evans forward Dre Clayton.
-- Clayton, whose first name is actually Dre'kalo, said Wednesday night that his USF visit was "great," but that he intends to take his other visits before deciding in time to sign during the early signing period in November. He still plans on visiting UTEP next, then Murray State and USC. Said he's not overly concerned about playing close to home, and is open to playing in an elite conference like the Big East or for a midmajor type program. Still wide-open.
His coach at Evans is former USF standout Chucky Atkins, and the Bulls had the great timing to make his official visit the weekend that Atkins is enshrined in USF's Athletics Hall of Fame. Clayton is 6-foot-6, and he's at 238, actually down 20 pounds from where he's been before. He said he hopes to get down to 230, so he could play either as a small forward or power forward, depending on the mismatch coaches want. He can rebound, he can shoot from outside, so there's a good versatility he'd bring to the lineup in addition to his overall athleticism.
-- We'd mentioned the possibility of Stan Heath adding a late freshman addition, someone like IMG's Dan Robinson, just to help his post depth after losing signee Waverly Austin, who is now at Oregon. Rather than make a four-year investment in a player to address depth for part of one season, Heath is going to look for a big walk-on to help with practice minutes and go with the post players he has -- Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Kore White and Jordan Omogbehin, with Victor Rudd helping out with power forward minutes. It also means USF will probably give a long look to a smaller, faster lineup as well.