USF veterans impressed by basketball newcomers
USF men's basketball won't have its first official practice until Friday, but the Bulls have already seen enough of the team's newcomers to make a strong impression on returning players. At Tuesday's basketball media day, we were able to talk to key veterans about the newcomers and what's impressed them so far. First, here's scouting reports from senior forward/center Toarlyn Fitzpatrick:
-- on Martino Brock, 6-5 junior guard who sat out last season after transferring from South Alabama, should inherit Hugh Robertson's role as top perimeter defender. "We have a lot of defensive expectations for (him)," Fitzpatrick said. "He's really active, extremely athletic."
-- on freshman Zach LeDay, listed at 6-7, 223 but already picking up bulk in the weight room. "He's undersized, but he's so athletic, he makes up for it in length and athleticism. He's really about 6-6, 6-7, but he plays at like 6-10, 6-11. He should be huge for us."
-- on senior forward Kore White, a graduate transfer from Florida Atlantic who should give key minutes in the post: "He's a solid post guy. He's about my height, but he's a lot stronger than me. He can deal it. We played FAU a few times, and he's really physical in the post. He should help rebound and defend."
-- on sophomore guard Musa Abdul-Aleem: "He's an excellent shooter. He's an older guy, so he's mature already. He's game-ready."
And Victor Rudd had promising things to say about 7-foot-3, 320-pound redshirt freshman center Jordan Omogbehin. Rudd was asked about Omogbehin getting up and down the court, and he pointed to a drill called "22s," which requires players to get down the court and back twice in 22 seconds. "At first, he was making it in like 27, but about a week ago, he made his first one in 22. He's getting better," he said.
Asked if Omogbehin has a mean streak, Rudd said "He already hits people pretty hard, so if he gets mean, it's going to be a different story." ... Rudd said he hasn't had a shot blocked by Omogbehin yet: "I have to change my shot every time I go up to the basket. I tried to dunk on him a few times. He knocked me out of the air."
-- Rudd on freshman guard JaVontae Hawkins: "By the time of his junior year, he's going to be crazy. Every day, I tell Coach Heath. He can do everything. He can dribble, he can shoot. He's athletic. He can defend."
-- Rudd on LeDay: "Zach rebounds. He's 6-7, but goes to the glass hard. When a shot goes up, I have to go get him. He goes to the glass hard."
-- Rudd on White: "Kore picked up the defensive stuff real quick. He's been in college, so he knows what he's doing. I caught that in open gym. I think he's going to be a great contributor."
And finally, coach Stan Heath had some words to say about his newcomers. Here's what he had to say: "Who's been the most surprising guys? Probably JaVontae Hawkins. He's probably a little bit better than advertised. He's a very, very good player. Very aggressive, attacks the rim, shoots the ball a lot better than we thought. He fits in very well athletically with how we want to defend and guard people. Zach as well. Originally, I thought LeDay would be more of a redshirt kind of guy. I think we just found a Dennis Rodman-type kind of guy. This guy is so active. He gets rebounds, blocks shots. He's dunking, he's a quick riser. He's kind of forcing my hand to find some minutes for him. It's going to be interesting how he continues to develop as time goes on.
"The other guy I think has had a strong preseason, I guess you wouldn't necessarily put him in this category, is (senior) Shaun Noriega. Probably, in the last three weeks, he's been one of our top four or five guys out there on the floor. Not just shooting the lights out, but creating his own shot, a little bit more than ever, and defending, at least solid, to the point where he can hold his own. That's been kind of the area Shaun had to get better at. He's done that. I wouldn't be surprised if Shaun has a big year, steps forward in his senior year and gives up that perimeter shooting and consistent play that really helps our play."
(He didn't mention Abdul-Aleem, so I asked about him): "Musa will definitely get minutes. He's going to be a factor out there. He shoots the ball. He's a guy that's got a great build for a college player already. He plays fairly hard out there on the court. It's a matter, and I think for all new guys there's always that adjustment of how do you get used to playing with other guys that are really good, too. You're used to, coming out of high school or junior college, you take 25 shots a game, shoot anytime you want. He has to make that adjustment. He's willing to do that. He definitely knows he needs to do that. He's just making that adjustment. As time goes on and he becomes a more well-rounded player, his minutes will increase. I definitely see him out there on the court. He shoots the ball. He's a guy, you can blink your eyes, and he might knock down three 3s in a row. Just like that. He's a very streaky, gifted long-range shooter."