Where the new Bulls fit in for Heath ...

17

April

The start of the spring signing period for basketball was largely a day with no surprises for USF, with commitments Dwan McMillan and Gene Teague making it official by signing with the Bulls. Wednesday did, however, mark the first time we could get Stan Heath's take on his new players and how they fit into his lineup for the 2008-09 season. Some talking points, then ...

Teague and B.J. Ajayi are centers: Ajayi played primarily at power forward last season, but that was a function of Kentrell Gransberry having center covered pretty well. Heath told me he's always seen the 6-9, 225-pound Ajayi as a center, and while Teague has identified himself as a power forward, Heath said he'll be a center, going so far as to say "I compare him to a baby Gransberry." Having said that ...

Heath wants to sign at least two more: He has four scholarships available, but said he'd be fine carrying over two to next season, which would leave one open for a transfer and allow Heath to sign three players in next year's class. At least one will be another center -- I'd put IMG Academy's Teeng Akol as the most likely to sign among the recruits we've been tracking -- though Heath would like to add a pure shooter. The next two weekends are key dates for evaluating players at tournaments, so the next campus visits aren't likely until the weekend of May 2.

Eladio Espinosa could make a big splash: USF hasn't really had a true power forward since it's been in the Big East, and Heath said Espinosa (6-7, 220 pounds) is "a key recruit, the 4-man we've been searching for." Right now, he'd likely be the starting power forward, with rising senior Aris Williams as a backup. Here's Heath's quote from USF's release: "(Espinosa) fulfills a major need that was lacking from our team, and that's what I say is a true power forward player. I do feel he'll have the ability to play inside and outside. His rebounding and athleticism, as well as his approach to being aggressive on the court, will really help solidify that position on the court, which we struggled in this past season." With Orane Chin and Amu Saaka gone, this becomes the position with the least depth, anticipating a third center coming in the next month.

A deep backcourt could be USF's strength: In adding Dwan McMillan, Heath has a pass-first point guard, someone quick enough to really push an uptempo offense at a higher speed than this season. I'll be curious to see how the backcourt roles shake out, especially with midyear transfer Mike Mercer joining the rotation in December. USF's shooting guards and small forwards are largely interchangeable, so you'll have a five-player rotation over three positions, with McMillan and Howard (who was USF's defensive player of the year) competing for minutes at the point, Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo both returning at the 2/3 positions and Mercer chipping away at minutes from those two.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Fire away ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:20pm]

    

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