USF, a sexy pick to crash the NCAA Tournament last year before power forward Alexis Yetna’s season-ending knee injury, evidently hasn’t lost that appeal.
The Bulls, who return a healthy Yetna as well as five of last season’s top six scorers, are fourth in CBS Sports veteran college hoops insider Jon Rothstein’s preseason American Athletic Conference power rankings.
Rothstein also projects USF, which finished 14-17 last season, as a the team that will make the biggest jump in the league. His condensed take:
The Bulls were expected to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth in 2020 prior to losing (Yetna) to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Now with Yetna — who averaged 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds two years ago as a freshman — back healthy, Brian Gregory has the type of interior anchor he needs up front. (USF) also returns an all-conference guard in David Collins and four other players — Michael Durr, Justin Brown, Zack Dawson, and Xavier Castaneda — who averaged 20 or more minutes last season. Add a top-100 prospect in guard Caleb Murphy and South Florida has the requisites to win 20 or more games after winning 14 a year ago.
Yetna, the most viable NBA prospect on the roster, made Rothstein’s five-member preseason All-AAC team. Murphy, the first four-star prospect to sign with USF in the Rivals era, is listed among his five impact freshmen.
Other newcomers joining Murphy are frontcourt behemoths Prince Oduro (6-foot-8, 250 pounds) and Russel Tchewa (7-foot, 270), who transferred from Mississippi State and Texas Tech, respectively.
Oduro learned in July he had received a waiver from the NCAA allowing him to play for USF immediately. Tchewa also recently received a waiver.