TAMPA – Sometimes, basketball recruiting news seems relative because there are so many unknowns until the player actually arrives and performs. But other times, there are numbers that leap off the page, causing the imagination to race.
Numbers such as these: 6-foot-10, 260 pounds.
University of South Florida first-year men’s coach Orlando Antigua put an exclamation point on his first recruiting class Wednesday with the commitment of junior-college center Jaleel Cousins, 6-10, 260, who could provide some much-needed inside muscle.
The Bulls lost promising center John Egbunu, a member of the American Athletic Conference’s all-rookie team, who left after the firing of Stan Heath and transferred to play for the Florida Gators. But the arrival of Cousins, the brother of NBA player DeMarcus Cousins, should boost USF’s pivot outlook, which features 6-8, 255-pound sophomore-to-be Chris Perry, another AAC all-rookie player.
Meanwhile, USF also has attracted Maryland transfer Roddy Peters, a 6-3, 195-pound point guard who averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 assists as a freshman for the Terrapins. Peters had 10 starts and averaged 15 minutes per game.
That puts the Bulls at their scholarship limit of 13 players. Peters, who has three years of eligibility remaining, and Marshall point-guard transfer Kareem Canty, the Conference USA rookie of the year who has two years of eligibility remaining, will sit out next season.
Other USF newcomers include 6-10 center Ruben Guerrero, 6-6 forward Nehemias Morillo, 6-4 guard Dinero Mercurius and 6-4 guard Troy Holston.
Cousins played last season at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas, where he averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. His older brother, now a power forward with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, was recruited to the University of Kentucky when Antigua was a Wildcats assistant under John Calipari.
For the first time ever, all 18 of USF’s sports scored 950 or higher on the Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, designed to measure academic progress, eligibility, retention and graduation of each athlete. USF and Rutgers were the only American Athletic Conference schools to have each of its programs hit the 950-point mark. Also, USF was among 36 Division I-A football-playing schools to achieve that level.
USF football improved its APR score for the fifth consecutive season at 973 and ranked 25th nationally. Softball’s 997 score ranked 30th nationally. Meanwhile, men’s basketball had a program-record score of 959.
USF had three programs — women’s tennis, men’s tennis, women’s golf — receive Public Recognition Awards for APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally in their sports.
After last season’s heartbreaking regional finish in which the Bulls lost a trip to the NCAA Championships in a one-hole playoff, Chris Malloy’s men’s golf team took a step back with a 10th-place performance in last weekend’s San Antonio Regional. The Bulls lose only two seniors. With standout underclassmen such as Chase Koepka and Trey Valentine, the program should be well-positioned for a run at the 2015 NCAA Championships, held at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton
Barry Clements, who arrived at USF as an athletic trainer 30 years ago, was promoted to Deputy Director of Athletics, second in command to AD Mark Harlan. Other staff promotions included Jocelyn Fisher as Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Administration, Yulander Wells as Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Finance/Chief Financial Officer and Elliot Charles as Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance. Former Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos, who rose to second in command under former AD Doug Woolard, and Senior Associate AD Amy Perkins, were not retained by Harlan.
For the second consecutive season, football senior Austin Reiter is on the spring watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s top center. Reiter has started 24 consecutive games at USF. …Three USF track and field athletes took first-place finishes at the Louisville Twilight Meet. Matthew O’Neal won the men’s triple jump (51-8 1/2), Courtney Anderson won the women’s high jump (5-8) and Mira Carrozza won the women’s javelin (137-2). The NCAA East Preliminary Meet begins next Thursday in Jacksonville with top-12 qualifiers headed to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.