TAMPA -- The University of South Florida Men’s Basketball program has announced the signing of six top recruits to National Letters of Intent, head coach Stan Heath announced Wednesday. The class, which features two top 100 ESPN recruits in John Egbunu and Chris Perry also includes highly touted recruits Dre’Kalo ‘Dre’ Clayton, Josh Heath, Byron ‘Bo’ Zeigler and Drew Davis.
Five of the six in the class are from the state of Florida and out of ESPN’s six Top 100 recruits from the Sunshine State, two are coming to USF. Additionally, USF is one of two schools nationally to have a top 25 power forward and a top 25 center for the class of 2013. HoopScoop.com ranked the class seventh nationally for the Bulls' second-straight year with a top 15 ranked class by the publication.
“This is definitely the best class that we have put together in my time here,” said head coach Stan Heath. “Signing this many high level, in-state guys shows that we have made a major jump in recruiting. We’ve been able to shift towards the four-year guy and especially the four-year guys that are very coveted nationally. We’ve been able to land some top rated guys and we’ve been able to shore up the inside. We’ll be losing some key players next year so we’ll need help in that area to create some versatility and depth for our team.
“This is going to be a fun and exciting group to coach,” added Heath. “They’re talented. They work really hard and they’re proven winners. Being able to build on those foundations is going to lead us to tremendous success in the future.”
“This is no question the best class that Stan Heath has ever had at South Florida and most likely the best class the program has had in its history,” said ESPN recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi. “Its top heavy but everyone is going to contribute over the long haul. Coach Heath has proven he can recruit in the state and his staff is sensational. You’ve got a great staff and a head coach who is working the state hard, and has had on court success. This is a class that you can build on immediately and over time and that’s the key to recruiting. You don’t want to be a one hit wonder. This class has tremendous power both immediately and long term.”
Egbunu is a four-star 6-10, 230 lb., center out of Fort Walton Beach, Florida who is rated 72nd by ESPN and seventh overall for his position nationally. The incoming freshman played at Georgia Elite Christian before moving to Florida for his junior and senior seasons. During the 2012 summer circuit, Egbunu stood out at many tournaments including the NBA Top 100 camp.
“John has so much upside it’s scary,” said Heath. “He’s a force right now as a shot blocker, an interior guy who can attack the rim, runs the floor like a deer and block shots. He’s a game changer around the basket for us. With him and Chris Perry I just really feel like our inside is going to be as good as anyone in the league and around the country.”
Perry, a 6-8, 245 pound power forward, comes to USF from Bartow, just 40 miles east of Tampa and is the No. 96 player on ESPN’s top 100 along with being rated the No. 23 power forward nationally. Also recruited by UCF, Miami and Temple, Perry averaged 13.3 points and 11.5 rebounds as a junior at Bartow.
“Chris Perry is a local kid from Bartow High School,” said Heath. “He’s exactly what we need right now. He’s a guy who can play around the basket, play facing up, has great skill level, a high IQ as well as a terrific physique - a college-ready body right now. He’s got a 7-4 wingspan and is 6-8 so he plays a lot bigger than his height. I expect him to be a major contributor from day one and a leader for us as well.”
“It’s hard to get one good post player in a class and South Florida now has two,” added Biancardi. “Those two are going to be anchors of the front court over time and they’re terrific guys to have from a basketball skills standpoint.”
Clayton joins the Bulls from Orlando, Florida. The 6-6, 245 pound power forward averaged 11 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field as a junior at Orlando Christian Prep. He helped lead OCP to the 2012 Class 2A state title while picking up first-team all-state honors.
“Dre is my x-factor guy,” added Heath. “He can do a little bit of everything. He can play inside and outside. He can play a three or a four and is physically gifted at 6-6 about 250. He is an enforcer and has a Ron Anderson [Jr.] leadership type personality on the court but also has the perimeter skills to be a matchup nightmare for an opponent.”
In the backcourt, the Bulls add local Tampa Prep star, and son of Coach Heath, Josh Heath. The 6-2 point guard is coming off of an impressive junior year where he averaged 12.4 points, 7.1 assists and 2.5 steals while helping lead the Terps to the Class 3A state championship. During Tampa Prep’s state championship run, Heath was named the Tournament MVP as he put up 36 points, 16 assists and 14 rebounds during the semis and final.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach my son,” said Heath. “I wouldn’t have offered him if I didn’t think he could help us. He’s a very savvy point guard with his size at 6-2. He’s really developed his body over the last year as well but he has a high IQ, shoots the ball well, very deceptive with his quickness and has a tremendous understanding of how to play. Even more than anything, he’s a proven winner with the defending state champions Tampa Prep.”
Heath headed to his home state to land Zeigler as the 6-6 wing joins USF from Detroit, Michigan. Zeigler, who plays for Detroit Community School and the Michigan Hurricanes (AAU), chose the Bulls over offers from Providence, Iowa, Connecticut and more. The versatile wing is rated the No. 22 small forward for the class of 2013 by ESPN.
“Bo is a long athletic wing that will really help us defensively,” said Heath. “He has skills as a guard to shoot from the outside and handle the ball as well. There’s a lot of versatility and a very high upside when it comes to him. I definitely feel that he’ll be a strong contributor from day one in our program.”
Davis also comes to USF from Fort Walton Beach HS where he and Egbunu are teammates. The 6-0 point guard is a sharp shooter who has played his AAU career with Team Georgia Elite.
“Drew is a point guard who shoots the ball well,” said Heath. “He’s definitely a young man that is going to as time goes on, continue to work and grow and he will give us depth at the guard spot.”
The Bulls continue their 2012-13 season this Friday-Sunday as they host the USF Invitational which will features the Bulls, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Loyola-Chicago and Western Michigan. USF faces the UMES Hawks at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.