USF and head coach Orlando Antigua continue to add wings in the Class of 2016 as three-star wing Malik Fitts pledged to the Bulls on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-5 native of California is coming off of his official visit to campus last weekend and he joins four-star wing Troy Baxter and three-star guard Andres Feliz in South Florida’s 2016 class.
Fitts ran with Earl Watson Elite in the Under Armour Association this spring and summer and was second on the team in both points (10.2 ppg) and rebounds (5.6 rpg). South Florida is adding a big-bodied wing who can finish above the rim and he’s tough to stop in transition. Along with Baxter, this is a solid group that is coming in for the Bulls.
Proud to announce that I will continue my education and basketball career at the University of South Florida 🏀 #GoBulls
The most noteworthy programs participating in the multi-team event are Kentucky and Ohio State. Unfortunately, the Wildcats and Buckeyes won’t play each other during this event. They’ll be two of the four teams playing November 27 in Miami, with Kentucky playing South Florida in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic bracket matchup and Ohio State taking on Memphis in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational bracket.
This isn’t your usual multi-team event setup either, as there will be a total of five teams in each of the two brackets. Prior to their games in Miami, Kentucky and South Florida will each get to play three home games. Also in the Classic bracket are Albany, Boston University and NJIT.
Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Campus Round Schedule
November 13: Albany @ Kentucky
November 14: NJIT @ Kentucky
November 16: Albany @ Boston University
November 16: NJIT @ South Florida
November 19: Boston University @ NJIT
November 21: Boston University @ South Florida
November 24: Boston University @ Kentucky
November 24: Albany @ South Florida
November 27: NJIT @ Albany
Campus round schedules for the Invitational bracket have yet to be announced. Grambling, Louisiana Tech and UT-Arlington are the three programs that will join Ohio State and Memphis in this bracket, with the Buckeyes and Tigers getting multiple home games before their meeting November 27 in Miami.
Chest pains experienced Saturday lead to USF forward missing Sunday’s game
Already facing an uphill battle against UConn Sunday afternoon, USF had to play the game without its best front court player in Chris Perry. According to multiple reports Perry experienced chest pains during the team’s workout on Saturday and was hospitalized. Perry did join his teammates on the sidelines during the second half of USF’s 66-53 loss to the Huskies.
Perry’s started 18 of the 19 games he’s played in this season, averaging 10.1 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game. Without Perry head coach Orlando Antigua inserted redshirt freshman guard/forward Bo Zeigler into the lineup against UConn, and he finished the game with seven points and two rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
Taking care of the defensive glass has been an issue for the Bulls all season long, as they rank ninth in the American in defensive rebounding percentage (66.9%). That wasn’t the biggest problem for USF in their loss to UConn (keeping Ryan Boatright in check was), but if Allen is to miss an extended period of time that would undoubtedly hurt the Bulls as they look to climb up the conference standings.
American Midseason Catchup: Conference looks to rebound from underwhelming start
College basketball’s non-conference season is coming to a close, and to help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.
MIDSEASON AMERICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ryan Boatright, UConn
Pretty easy choice at this point in the season. Boatright’s averaging 19.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, and he’s also shooting nearly six percentage points better from the field than he did a season ago (44.9% compared to 39.1%).
THE ALL-AAC FIRST TEAM:
Nic Moore, SMU: Averaging 15.4 points and 4.7 assists per game, the junior point guard is shooting nearly 51 percent from the field.
Will Cummings, Temple: Cummings (14.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.9 apg) isn’t shooting the ball particularly well (32.9%), but he leads the Owls in scoring and assists, is second in rebounding and is the heart and soul of that team.
Jherrod Stiggers, Houston: Stiggers (17.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg) leads the American in scoring and made three-pointers (44).
Shaquille Harrison, Tulsa: While teammate James Woodard landed on the league’s preseason all-conference list, Harrison (14.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.8 apg) is second on the team in scoring and first in assists.
THREE THINGS WE’VE LEARNED
1. UConn’s non-conference games at Florida (January 3) and Stanford (January 17) are of even greater importance due to their lack of a signature win. The Huskies did what they had to do from a scheduling standpoint, putting together one of the tougher non-conference slates around to account for the strength of their league. The problem: they lost the biggest games on said schedule, losing to West Virginia, Texas and Duke (with a last-second loss to Ivy contender Yale to boot). Getting a win at either Florida or Stanford (or better yet, both) will be key for UConn from an NCAA tournament seeding standpoint. And finally being at full strength should help the Huskies as well.
2. Those transfers are paying off for Temple. Fran Dunphy added three quality transfers to the program, with forward Jaylen Bond (Texas) eligible at the start of the season and guards Devin Coleman (Clemson) and Jesse Morgan (UMass) taking the court for the first time in mid-December. They’ve given the Owls much-needed depth, with Bond being one of the best rebounders in the American. Coleman’s been solid, and Morgan is averaging 16 points per game and became Temple’s best three-point shooter the moment he stepped onto the floor. Those two will make life easier for Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey moving forward.
3. As expected, the process of getting their backcourt in order has taken some time at Memphis. The Tigers lost four experienced guards from last season’s NCAA tournament team, so their struggles early in the season weren’t a surprise. But it doesn’t help when a transfer expected to have an impact in Kedren Johnson was essentially playing his way into shape, especially when considering the fact that he had more Division I experience than any guard on Josh Pastner’s roster. The Tigers have played better of late, winning four straight heading into the start of league play, but their best win in that stretch came against USC Upstate. JUCO transfer Trahson Burrell has improved throughout the season, but those guards will need to continue to make strides if Memphis is to contend in the American.
THREE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW
1. SMU’s integration of Markus Kennedy into the rotation. Kennedy, who was academically ineligible for the fall semester, undoubtedly makes a difference in the paint for the Mustangs. And while his numbers haven’t approached what they were last season, his return is something opponents have to account for. Yanick Moreira benefits from Kennedy’s presence, as does the versatile Ben Moore. With Nic Moore and Keith Frazier among the contributors on the perimeter SMU has the talent needed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993. How formidable they are once there will depend upon the play of Kennedy.
2. Amida Brimah’s quest for consistency at UConn. One of the most stunning performances of the season was Brimah’s 40-point, 12-rebound outing in a win over a bad Coppin State team. How did he build on that outing? Zero points, one rebound, two blocks and five fouls in UConn’s loss to Duke in East Rutherford. Brimah’s shooting 71 percent from the field but the 4.4 rebounds per game are a bit underwhelming for a player his size. Sure UConn’s guards are going to handle the majority of their scoring, and Boatright and freshman Daniel Hamilton have been the team’s best rebounders. But if UConn is to win the American and make some noise in the NCAA tournament, Brimah has to be a consistent presence in the middle.
3. Who steps forward offensively for Cincinnati. The Bearcats are without head coach Mick Cronin for health reasons, so that issue is the most important one they face entering conference play (and more important than basketball; get well soon, Coach). But on the floor this is a group that needs someone (or better yet, multiple people) to step forward offensively for a team that doesn’t have a player averaging double figures. Guards Troy Caupain and Farad Cobb are the ones who have the ball in their hands in crunch time, and forward Octavius Ellis and Gary Clark Jr. are second and third on the team in scoring, respectively. Can any of those players emerge as a consistent double-digit scorer? The answer will be the difference between going back to the NCAA tournament and winding up in the NIT.
1. The regular season title – and conference player of the year- will be determined March 1 at the XL Center in Hartford. SMU, which swept the season series last season, visits UConn on that day. The point guards on display, SMU’s Nic Moore and UConn’s Ryan Boatright, are two of the best in the country and the two best players in the American as well. Look for the winner of this game to win the conference, with its best player taking the American’s highest individual honor as well.
2. The American gets three NCAA tournament bids. While it can be argued that five teams enter conference play with a realistic shot of getting into the Big Dance, the underwhelming performance in non-conference play (things picked up late thanks to SMU’s win at Michigan and Temple blowing out Kansas) will be what hurts come Selection Sunday. Add in the fact that the teams in the bottom half of the American have suffered some bad losses, and it becomes tougher for the conference to earn respect in the room when the bracket gets filled out.
3. Once again there will be clear separation between the top and bottom of the conference. What killed the American in regards to both seeding and selection last season was how weak the bottom of the conference was, and that will once again be the case in 2014-15. USF has a ways to go under first-year head coach Orlando Antigua, and UCF is just as bad as they were last season (and Isaiah Sykes and Tristan Spurlock are gone, too). East Carolina doesn’t do much to move the needle, and the same can be said for a transfer-laden Houston squad that may be good for an upset or two in conference play. Can Tulsa and/or Tulane pick up the slack? If so, that would undoubtedly help the American as a whole, but Tulsa’s been inconsistent and Tulane’s best win to date came against Loyola (IL).
NCAA: UConn, SMU, Temple
NIT: Cincinnati, Memphis
OTHER/NO POSTSEASON: Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, East Carolina, UCF, USF
One of the players expected to step forward for USF head coach Orlando Antigua in his first season at the helm is sophomore forward/center Chris Perry, who averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 2013-14. Perry missed the team’s first exhibition game last week with a right knee issue, but it’s been announced by the program that he will be on the court when the Bulls play their final exhibition game Friday night.
Chris Perry, who missed Saturday's game due to injury, will play Friday vs. Flagler. Come on out to watch. It starts at 7 p.m.
Perry’s a key player for the Bulls, especially when considering the fact that they have to account for the loss of their top two scorers from last season (Victor Rudd Jr. and Martino Brock) and center John Egbunu (who transferred to Florida). Perry started ten of USF’s 32 games last season, and his production resulted in a spot on the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team.
USF doesn’t have much in the way of front court depth heading into the 2014-15 season, with first-year players Jaleel Cousins (junior college transfer) and Dre Clayton (redshirt freshman) also expected to figure prominently in Antigua’s plans. USF started their first exhibition game, a 77-72 win over Indiana University (of Pennsylvania), with four guards and Cousins at the center position.
Cousins finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots, with Clayton adding seven points and three rebounds off the bench. Another first-year big man, 6-foot-11 freshman Ruben Guerrero, sat out the game with a groin injury. USF opens its regular season schedule November 16 with a home game against Jackson State.
Among those currently connected to college basketball, there are five players and one head coach participating in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. With two (Angola’s Yanick Moreira and Ukraine’s Sviatoslov Mykhailiuk) playing on teams that failed to advance out of group play, Saturday’s action began with three players and one coach remaining in the field.
Both categories dropped by one Saturday evening, with the Dominican Republic (led by USF head coach Orlando Antigua) losing 71-61 to Slovenia and Senegal (which includes Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour) losing to hosts Spain 89-56.
Antigua, who took over for former boss John Calipari as head coach of the Dominican Republic national team, became the first coach to lead the team into the knockout rounds of the event since 1978 by leading the team to a 2-3 mark in Group C. Unfortunately for Antigua his team managed to score just 13 points in the second quarter Saturday, and Slovenia’s Dragic brothers (Zoran and Goran) combined to score 30 points with Zoran responsible for 18.
The Dominicans were led offensively by former Quinnipiac guard James Feldeine, who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a losing effort. Now that his tournament is over Antigua will rejoin his program at USF, a group that looking to rebound from two disappointing seasons under former head coach Stan Heath.
As for Ndour, he and his teammates ran into one of the tournament favorites by virtue of their finishing fourth in Group B, and as expected things didn’t go well against Spain. Senegal trailed by just six points (23-17) at the end of one quarter, but an 11-point second quarter resulted in Spain eventually pulling away for a comfortable victory.
Ndour finished the game with four points and two rebounds, and for the tournament he averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest at one of Senegal’s first players off the bench. Ndour’s role will be different during his senior season at Ohio, as he’ll look to build on a productive 2013-14 season under new head coach Saul Phillips.
The two remaining current college players in the event are New Zealand’s Tai Webster (Nebraska) and Isaac Fotu (Hawaii), and they’ll be in action Sunday morning as they take on Lithuania.