South Florida ‘09-10 Preview
Bulls leaving the basement?
For the South Florida Bulls, life in the Big East’s sewer could potentially be no more.
The Bulls moved with a sense of urgency this offseason. They recharged their pulse. They restocked the system. This was essential considering the Bulls paltry 9-20 (4-13 in conference action) record last season. Now the task of re-writing the script comes into view. Could the Bulls go from dungeon dweller to ticket seller? The idea doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Stan Heath’s program now boasts a revived recruiting class featuring 6-11 center Jarrid Famous and Jordan Dumars, the son of Piston great Joe Dumars. Famous, a transfer by way of Westchester Community College (Valhalla, NY), averaged 25 points and an NJCAA-leading 15 rebounds en route to leading the Westcoes to back-to-back Mid-Hudson championships. Shaped by WCC assistant Dave Vandiver, a local area coach who turned Woodlands High School (Greenburgh, NY) into a formidable Section I/N.Y.S. foe, Famous turned heads his sophomore season. He was head-and-shoulders better than any big man on the JuCo circuit. I gas you not.
Famous’ game met the fancy of several top-tier Big East programs. Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Villanova, UConn, and West Virginia were all in heavy pursuit of the hunted one that got away to Tampa, FL. Famous is a full package. He has all the tools to become, well… Famous. The junior could potentially be the best big man the school has seen since current D-Leaguer Kentrell Gransberry, who should be in the league at this point. If he pans out, Famous could form a radiant 1-2 punch with do-it-all scorer Dominique Jones.
Jones was the most underrated, slept-on guard in the Big East last season. He’s also a junior. Jones is a cool customer, never taxed or bothered by the lack of individual shine, headlines, or the fact that he’s yet to crack All-Conference. He doesn’t pay attention to stat sheets. He doesn’t keep tabs on his numbers or troll ESPN.com, dissecting the stats of other play-making guards who get much more love in through the papers, pundits, the player evaluators.
Not Jones. He didn’t self-boast about lighting Iona up to the tune of 36 points. Through his progression-crazy energy and attitude, it’s visible that personal accolades are meaningless to the chiseled 6-4 guard.
Is the Big East storm finally over for the cellar-dwelling Bulls? With essentially the same team returning plus some promising new blood, don’t hit the pillow on the Bulls this season…
Jesus Verdejo | 6-4 | Guard
Puerto Rico native held his own in a conference over saturated with elite guards. Posted solid numbers the past two years, including 12.2 points and three boards as a senior. Also assumed the scoring mantle at various times this season, rising to the occasion while shooting the rock at a high percentage.
• Mobaliji Ajayi and Aris Williams exhausted their college eligibility and Eladio Espinosa and Gaby Belardo transferred.
Dominique Jones | 6-4 | G | Junior
Jones was a veritable superman for the Bulls this season, leading the team in essential categories such as points (18.1), assists (3.9) and rebounds (5.6). He shredded Bobby Huggins’ complex West Virginia defense to the tune of 35 points. Jones scorched the nets for 29 points and snared eight boards against Providence. A cyborg in adidas, Jones rarely played under 32 minutes in a game this season. Expect much of the same this season. With the arrival of Famous, Jones may be thrust into a role where he creates more. Sharing the rock has become part of his nature. If Famous can go to work, DOJO will be handing out dimes like scantily-clad promoter chicks hand out club flyers.
Augustus Gilchrist | 6-10 | F | Redshirt Sophomore
Maryland native showed promise this season. Gilchrist has the size, attitude and willful grit to be successful at this level. He plays above the rim. As a redshirt freshman, Gilchrist averaged 10.2 points. The kid, who emerged from same basketball hotbed as Pittsburgh star and current NBA forward Sam Young, needs to use his body more effectively and more to his advantage. The addition of Famous should help Gilchrist and the Bulls establish a solid frontline that can lock up the rims on the defensive side and work off each other on the blocks…
Chris Howard | 6-3 | PG | Senior
Howard is amongst the top Big East returning assist-men of the last two seasons. He’s has overcome a series of knee problems which has taken away some of the explosive athletic ability he showed in high school as the aforementioned Young. Howard has more backcourt help and some new finishing options in the frontcourt that the veteran floor general could rely on for another solid season.
Jarrid Famous | 6-11 | F/C | Junior
Famous is a complete package. He can be dominant at this top-tier level. A full arsenal of refined post moves and a knack for pulling down rebounds sell his stock. His ability to score buckets by the bundles and battle for supremacy down low makes Famous a likely candidate for an immediate starting spot. He upgrades the South Florida boat. Remember, he broke the hearts of Seton Hall staff and fans, as they thought he would be staying local and play for the Pirates.
Anthony Crater | 6-0 | PG | Sophomore
Crater is not eligible until mid-season. Still the transfer via Ohio State will give the Bulls another gear at point guard. While Howard is entrenched as the starter, Crater is the future and with the hope of better days ahead, expect the speedy and shifty guard to get plenty of time to get comfortable in Big East play.
Mark Burnwell | 6-6 | SG/SF | Freshman
Being the leading scorer at a prep power such as South Kent is no small feat. The Jersey native comes south with a reputation of being able to put the ball in the basket from the perimeter, an area of weakness for the Bulls of recent seasons. Burwell could be thrust into early burn with the Bulls’ need to balance the floor and add a sniper. Yeah, he’s got the right to bear arms.
Zach Smart has written for Big East Basketball Report, Hoops Addict and The East Coast Bias. Read more on his blog.