While new USF head coach Orlando Antigua has plenty of experience as an assistant, the 2014-15 season will be his first when it comes to running a college program. And when that’s the case, an assistant with head coaching experience at the Division I level can be invaluable. On Wednesday it was announced that Antigua has hired former FIU head coach Sergio Rouco, thus filling out his coaching staff.
Rouco, who was a member of Andy Kennedy’s staff at Ole Miss, has more than two decades of coaching experience and is a native of Florida (Miami). Rouco served as head coach at FIU from 2006-09, and he’ll be joining Oliver Antigua and Rod Strickland on the USF coaching staff.
“Sergio has over 25 years of coaching experience at the Division I level,” Orlando Antigua said in the release. “He has great recruiting connections not just in the state of Florida, but around the world, which will greatly benefit our program.”
The 2013-14 season was a tough one for USF, as they won just 12 games and finished the season on a nine-game losing streak. The absence of starting point guard Anthony Collins, who played in just eight games due to a knee injury, didn’t help matters but he’ll be back to lead the way for the Bulls.
USF has also added five newcomers, with incoming freshman guard Troy Holston the most highly regarded of the group.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.