USF still in hunt for point guard Bledsoe
While the recruiting focus for USF coach Stan Heath is on upgrading his frontcourt for next season, the dismissal of guard Mike Mercer gives him an opening for more help in the backcourt as well.
The Bulls are one of five schools in contention for the No. 2 unsigned point guard in the country according to both major recruiting sites, Eric Bledsoe of Birmingham, Ala., according to his high school coach.
Maurice Ford, Bledsoe's coach at Parker High, said Tuesday that USF is a possibility for Bledsoe, along with Florida, Tennessee, Cincinnati and hometown UAB.
"He's a pass-first, shoot-second point guard. It's hard to find those," Ford said. "His strength is his passing skills."
Ford said Bledsoe is unlikely to take any visits before his season is over -- Parker is in the state playoffs, with a home game Friday night. Ford said USF coach Stan Heath has been to Birmingham to see Bledsoe in person back in December.
USF appeared to have addressed its point guard needs in January when Anthony Crater transferred in from Ohio State, but Mercer's subsequent dismissal opened a scholarship for another guard.
-- One more name to watch in USF's recruiting efforts is Maurice McNeil, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward from San Jacinto College in Texas. It's the same school where Kentrell Gransberry played before eventually spending two seasons at USF and leading the Big East in rebounding both seasons.
McNeil is a solid rebounder, averaging 19.5 points and 10.8 rebounds for San Jacinto. Coach Scott Gernander said McNeil is considering five schools -- nearby Houston, Arizona, Oklahoma State and South Florida, later adding Texas A&M to the list. McNeil is from New York originally, so USF would give him a chance to return close to home several times a year in Big East play. McNeil finished his high school days at University Park Prep in Houston, so the Cougars might have an advantage from proximity and familiarity.
"He's a slender kid, long and athletic, but he runs the floor very well," Gernander said. "He's a 4 man (power forward) and scores most of his points in the lane, with a nice jump hook."
Gernander said USF has only recently shown an interest in McNeil, with assistant Reggie Hanson calling "in the last week or so," and he wasn't aware of any USF coaches seeing McNeil in person, which may suggest he isn't a primary recruiting target for the Bulls. Gernander said McNeil will wait until after the season -- the end of February at the earliest -- before making visits to his top schools.