TAMPA – University of South Florida men’s basketball coach Stan Heath announced today the signings of guard Gabriel “Gaby” Belardo and junior college center Alejandro “Alex” Rivas Sanchez to NCAA Letters of Intent during the late signing period. The late signing period runs April 16 through May 21.
The 6-2, 180-pound Belardo is a combination guard who spent his senior season at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., one of the top prep schools in the country. Prior to Notre Dame Prep he attended Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native plays for Art Alvarez and the Miami Tropics AAU program.
The 6-10, 230-pound Rivas Sanchez from Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas, is an athletic big man who will give the Bulls much-needed front court depth. He averaged 8.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks for the season, and earned 2008 KJCCC All-Jayhawk West second team honors. His 12 rebounds per game last season ranked sixth nationally in junior college. The Santiago, Dominican Republic native attended Laurinburg Prep in Laurinburg, N.C. before heading to Pratt. He will join the junior class with current Bulls Chris Howard and Georgia transfer Mike Mercer.
“I’m excited to add two quality players to our roster this late in recruiting,” said Heath. “Gaby has really come on during the spring AAU season. His ability to play either guard position, as well as shoot, handle the ball, and make decisions will be an asset to our basketball team on the perimeter. Alex is an active player with very good size. Our concern with lack of size last year should be addressed with Alex as well as some of the other new players coming into the fold.”
Belardo and Rivas Sanchez will join point guard Dwan McMillan and center/forward Eugene Teague Jr. who also signed in the late period, as well as forward Eladio Espinosa who signed during the early signing period. Mercer will also become eligible in December at the end of the fall semester. Below are bios on all of the 2007-08 signees as well as comments from Coach Heath.
Gabriel Belardo, Guard
High School: Notre Dame (Fitchburg, Mass.) Prep
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Goes by Gaby... Spent senior season at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., one of the top prep schools in the country... Attended Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. for two seasons, helping Montverde go undefeated during the 2006-07 season... Coached by Art Alvarez as a member of the Miami Tropics AAU program... Has had a great spring AAU season... Son of Jose and Elba... Has two brothers... Born October 6, 1989... Chose USF over Hofstra, Duquesne, Virginia Commonwealth, UCF, Florida International and SMU.
Alejandro Rivas Sanchez, Jr., Center
Junior College: Pratt Community College (Pratt, Kansas)
High School: Laurinburg (Laurinburg, N.C.) Prep
Hometown: Santiago, Dominican Republic
Goes by Alex... Attended Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas... Coached by Trevor Rolfs at Pratt where he earned 2008 KJCCC All-Jayhawk West second team honors after averaging 8.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks for the season... His 12 rebounds per game ranked sixth nationally in junior college... Had a 19 rebound game, two 17 rebound games and two 16 rebound games last season... Averaged 5.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a freshman at Pratt... Attended Laurinburg Prep in Laurinburg, N.C. prior to Pratt and also attended Colegio Fausto Jimenez High School in Puerto Rico... Coached by Kenny Gillian as a member of the Team Breakdown AAU program... Son of Alejandro Rivas and Josefina Sanchez... Born November 4, 1986... Chose USF over Baylor, Nebraska, West Virginia, Tennessee Tech, Florida Atlantic, SMU and Texas Tech.
Dwan McMillan, Guard
High School: St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) Prep
Hometown: Hempstead, N.Y.
Rated 57th best point guard in the country by ESPN.com... Played last two years for Danny Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep... Helped lead St. Benedict’s to a 24-1 record last season and a final No. 2 national ranking in USA Today, Prepnation.com and ESPN HIGH Elite 25... Averaged 14 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals per game... Transferred from Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, N.Y... Coached by Gary Charles as a member of the New York Panthers AAU program... Son of Dwayne McMillan and Rachelle Daniels... Has six brothers and sisters... Born August 18, 1989... Chose USF over Cincinnati, St. John's, La Salle, UMass, Clemson and Providence.
Eugene Teague Jr., Center/Forward
High School: Living Faith Christian Academy (Pennsauken, N.J.)
Hometown: Vineland, N.J.
Rated as the 54th best power forward nationally by ESPN.com... Ranked 37th in The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Nifty Fifty of the top high school basketball players throughout Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania suburbs and South Jersey... Averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds at Living Faith as team finished 23-8... Coached by Larry Gordan and Rich Marcucci at Living Faith... Transferred from St. Augustine Prep in Richland, N.J... Son of Eugene Teague Sr. and Tamika Teague... Has one younger brother... Born December 12, 1989... Chose USF over Delaware, Maris, St. Peters and St. Joseph’s.
Eladio Espinosa, Forward
High School: Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.)
Hometown: Norlina, N.C.
Rated as the 38th best power forward nationally by ESPN.com... Helped lead Hargrave Military Academy to the National Prep School Championship and an unbeaten season at 29-0... Played for Kevin Keatts at Hargrave and averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds per game... Spent junior season at Victory Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C., and averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, while shooting 62-percent from the field... Was honorable mention all-conference and was named to the all-tournament team after helping lead Victory to the National Association of Christian Athletes national title... Tallied 15 points and 8 rebounds in the final... Played for Mike Pratt at Victory... Played for Stan Kowalewski and the North Carolina Gaters AAU program.
COACH HEATH QUOTES
WHAT COACH HEATH IS SAYING ABOUT GABY BELARDO...
“Gaby is a young man that really got a lot of attention late in the year. His play really picked up during the AAU season and definitely caught our attention. He’s a guard that can play with or without the ball, a good shooter who plays very hard. He has an aggressive, tough, mentality.”
WHAT COACH HEATH IS SAYING ABOUT ALEX RIVAS SANCHEZ...
“Adding Alex to our roster gives us a player that can defend other big players, rebound and block shots. He’s an athletic player who gets up and down the court. I really feel Alex is going to fit in nicely with what we are trying to do. With two years of college under his belt that extra experience should help him adjust quickly to the BIG EAST game.”
WHAT COACH HEATH IS SAYING ABOUT DWAN MCMILLAN...
“Two things really impress me with Dwan. He loves to play basketball, he’s a gym rat. He’s a pure point guard who has the personality to run a basketball team. The other thing that I think is so important is finding guys who are used to winning. And he comes from a great program that has produced so many terrific players. He’s had outstanding coaching and he knows nothing but winning. I really think he’s going to be a terrific addition to our basketball team.”
WHAT COACH HEATH IS SAYING ABOUT EUGENE TEAGUE JR....
“Gens is a late bloomer. A kid that really came on late in the year, dropped 20, 25 pounds since January. And by transforming his body he’s become a better runner, a guy that can get up and down the floor and go after rebounds, clear space. I love his hands, his physical attitude inside. I compare him to a baby Gransberry. He’s got work to do, he’s got to really continue to make progress in a lot of areas but has the upside to be a very good player in our program.”
WHAT COACH HEATH IS SAYING ABOUT ELADIO ESPINOSA...
“Eladio had an outstanding year. His team went undefeated, was the No. 1 prep school in the country and he was a significant part of that. His coach has told me all the wonderful things of how this kid is motivated, plays hard, competitive, great personality out there on the floor. He fulfills a major need that was lacking from our team and that’s what I say is a true power forward player. I do feel he’ll have the ability to play inside and outside. His rebounding and athleticism as well as his approach to being aggressive on the court will really help solidify that position on the court which we struggled in this past season.”