Egbunu granted release from USF
USF 6-foot-10 C John Egbunu, who set a school freshman rebounding record and made the American Athletic Conference's All-Rookie Team, has been granted his release from the school.
The cornerstone of the Bulls' nationally-lauded 2013 signing class, Egbunu becomes the fifth scholarship player to exit since Coach Stan Heath's dismissal in mid-March. Walk-on Shemiye McLendon, who averaged nearly 20 minutes last season, also isn't expected back.
The school also announced the exit of G Javontae Hawkins, whose departure was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday.
"We appreciate their contributions to our program and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors," USF executive associate athletic director Barry Clements said in a three-paragraph news release.
Egbunu and Hawkins join F Zach LeDay, G Musa Abdul-Aleem and PG Josh Heath as the Bulls' departures. Counting incoming freshmen shooting guards Troy Holston and Dinero Mercurius, USF has eight players on scholarship -- five below the NCAA limit -- for the 2014-15 season.
That includes rising senior PG Anthony Collins, who is believed to be close to graduating and also has been the source of transfer speculation. Last week, however, new Bulls coach Orlando Antigua lauded Collins' efforts in offseason workouts with the new coaching staff.
Egbunu, ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 7 center coming out of Fort Walton Beach High, started 31 of 32 games last season, averaged 7.4 points and ranked ninth in the conference with 1.9 blocks per game.
He and 6-8 classmate Chris Perry, also a member of the AAC All-Rookie team, were projected to blossom into one of the most dominant frontcourts in Bulls lore. As it stands, Perry and 7-3 fourth-year project Jordan Omogbehin are USF's only frontcourt players with college experience.
A stipulation of Egbunu's release prohibits him from signing with another AAC program, USF basketball spokesman Steven Schoon said. Barring receipt of an NCAA waiver, he'd have to sit out a year if he opted to transfer to another Division I program.
Based on his physical upside (and 40-inch vertical leap), a year of training and foray into the '15 NBA Draft is conceivable. Should he opt for another college season, a possible destination could be Virginia Tech, where former Bulls assistant Steve Roccaforte has landed. Roccaforte was Egbunu's primary recruiter.