Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The South Florida Bulls make the move from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference (aka Conference USA on steroids.) Last season USF returned to their abysmal basketball playing ways, a year after making the program’s third ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Even with a new league, more of the same will be expected from Stan Heath’s squad.
SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS
Last Season: T-14th, 3-15 in Big East, 12-19 overall
Predicted AAC Finish: 10th
Projected Depth Chart
C: John Egbunu (Fr)/Jordan Omogbehin (So)
F: Victor Rudd (Sr)/Zach LeDay (So)/Chris Perry (Fr)/Dre’Kaylo Clayton (Fr)
G/F: Javontae Hawkins (So)/Byron Zeigler (Fr)
SG: Martino Brock (Sr)/Musa Abdul-Aleem (Jr)/Shemiye McLendon (Jr)
PG: Anthony Collins (Jr)/Corey Allen Jr. (Jr)/Josh Heath (Fr)/Drew Davis (Fr)
Gone: SG-Jawanza Poland, C-Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, F/C-Kore White, SG-Shaun Noriega (transfer-Texas-Pan Am)
The past couple of years, the South Florida Bulls have given new meaning to offensively-challenged basketball. Their offense while methodical, is boring as sin and usually ineffective which is why USF failed to hit the 60 point per game mark last season.
There isn’t much about the makeup up this year’s roster to expect much improvement. Victor Rudd was the team’s leading scorer a year ago and while his athleticism and explosiveness are off the charts, he has failed to show any sort of consistency with his outside shot. Anthony Collins is the only other returning player to have averaged more than six points per game last season but is more of a distributing point guard than scorer.
There is uncertainty on the wing as well where Martino Brock, Javontae Hawkins, and Musa Abdul-Aleem all figure to battle for playing time. Brock is a decent role player but that’s about it while Abdul-Aleem battled nagging injury that limited him last season. Getting him back to full strength should help some. Hawkins showed flashes midway through his freshman season but saw his production dip down the stretch. He is capable of handling a heavier scoring load but can he produce on a nightly basis?
The same can be said of forward Zach LeDay who had some quality outings during his freshman campaign but lacked the consistency of being relied upon every game. A handful of new players will try to provide a boost off the bench and while there is some decent talent in the group, no one appears ready to immediately step into a significant role.
Another big concern comes inside where USF lacked any real low post scoring. Jordan Omogbehin is a monster of a man at 7-3, 330 pounds but showed very little offensive ability last season. He is also a huge liability on the defense since he has practically no mobility and takes forever to get back on D. As a result, freshman John Egbunu figures to start in the middle. The 6-10 center brings more athleticism to the floor but is still raw with his all-around game.
Unless something changes on the offensive end, the South Florida Bulls must rely on their defense like they did two seasons ago when they nearly snuck into the Sweet 16. Another outcome like last year might cost Stan Heath his job as the program could look to bring in new blood to help their transition to their new American Athletic Conference.
Player to Watch: Victor Rudd
The former Arizona State transfer wants to be a three-point shooter but needs to do what he does best; attack the basket and use his ridiculous ups to fly over opponents. He flirted with the NBA Draft prior to his junior season and if he wants any chance of making it at the next level, becoming a more reliable outside shooting will go a long way.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. Oklahoma State
12/4 at George Mason
12/7 vs. Alabama
12/17 vs. Florida Gulf Coast
12/22 vs. Mississippi State (Las Vegas Classic)
12/23 vs. UNLV/Santa Clara (Las Vegas Classic)
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks