USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath has his first commitment for 2011-12, as Andre Jackson, a 6-foot-10, 285-pound center from Lee (Texas) College, committed on Tuesday night, Lee assistant Marcus King confirmed.
Jackson, who has dropped 42 pounds since coming to Lee last year, averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a freshman.
"He's not a finished product, but he's not a project anymore," King said. "He's one of the few people in college basketball that's a true 5, a big low-post presence."
Jackson, who visited USF two weekends ago, chose the Bulls because they discovered him this summer and offered him a scholarship before any other program, and because of family ties to the area -- his father is from Orlando originally, so he has a grandmother there and an aunt in the Tampa area.
"(USF assistant Jeremy Cox) did his homework, came out and saw his progress, and a week later, Coach Heath flew in," King said. "He watched him for maybe 10 minutes and said 'We want him.' A lot of people were interested, but didn't come into our place. Nobody has seen the new 'Dre. South Florida was the first, and the relationship never stopped. They never let anyone else get his attention."
Center was a key position for USF to address in recruiting, with senior starter Jarrid Famous due to graduate after this season. King said that Jackson, who played at Dallas Pinkston High, is a back-to-the-basket center, which isn't easy to find these days.
"He's not a 4 that plays 5 because he's strong. He can step out and hit a shot, and he has a soft touch for his size," King said. "I'm very excited for 'Dre and excited for South Florida."
Heath has another newcomer who will become eligible next season in forward Victor Rudd, a transfer from Arizona State who is on campus but sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules. In terms of sheer size, Jackson will give Heath a physical presence inside he hasn't had since Kentrell Gransberry, who was listed at 270 pounds and led the Big East in rebounding in 2006-07 and 2007-08.