TAMPA – The University of South Florida Men’s Basketball program has announced the signing of three top recruits to National Letters of Intent, head coach Stan Heath announced Thursday. The class, which is rated 12th nationally by HoopScoop, features junior college standouts Waverly Austin and Musa Abdul-Aleem along with Javontae Hawkins out of Huntington Prep.
“This is our best early signing period we’ve had at USF,” said coach Heath. “We’re bringing in three guys that are all high impact players who can add a lot to our team next season and really I think, take us to the next level as a program. We’ve added size. We’ve added shooting. We’ve added athleticism and overall they all have a really good motor to compete at a very high level.”
“USF has had a banner year in recruiting,” said Paul Biancardi of ESPN. “This is potentially the best class in head coach Stan Heath's tenure and may be the best in the school's history. The class is highlighted by ESPNU Top 100 player Javontae Hawkins who possesses great size and athleticism on the perimeter along with two outstanding junior college prospects in JC All-American candidates Waverly Austin and Musa Abdul-Aleem who both should be impact players for the Bulls. This class should help South Florida leapfrog a few teams in the always difficult BIG EAST.”
Austin, originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia, will come to USF after spending two years at Palm Beach State College in Florida. The 6-11 center is the 2011-12 Junior College Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 18.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game last season. Austin, who received interest from Kansas and North Carolina, will look to immediately help the Bulls who lose big men Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr., following this season.
“With our needs at the big man spot, there weren’t many big men in the country better than Waverly,” added Heath. “Having two years of junior college level play under his belt when he comes to Tampa, he should be a guy that contributes very well for us in his first season. He’s got nice hands, nice touch and is a guy who rebounds the ball well and he’s the preseason JUCO player of the year for this season.
“Austin with his ridiculous athleticism has the potential to be a dynamic player for the Bulls especially in the BIG EAST,” added Clark Francis of HoopScoopOnline.com.
Hawkins, a 6-5, 200 pound shooting guard originally out of Flint, Mich., will join the Bulls as a true freshman starting next season. The four-star prospect is rated No. 89 overall in the 2012 class and 16th at his position by ESPN and No. 96 overall by CBSCollegeSports.com. He will come to USF after spending two years at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, where he is averaging 17.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Hawkins also received interest from West Virginia, Arizona State and Vanderbilt among others.
“Javontae is 6-5 and is an athletic shooting guard who plays well off the dribble and slashes but can also shoot from long range,” said Heath. “He’s a guy that really goes hard and competes. He’s playing at one of the top prep schools in the country going up against some very good competition which will help him transition to BIG EAST play.
“Hawkins is a multi-dimensional player who should make an immediate impact at USF with his long range shooting ability,” added Francis.
Abdul-Aleem is a 6-5 shooting guard from Altanta, Ga., and is currently playing at Georgia Perimeter College. As a freshman he averaged a team-best 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game en route to being named the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association’s Freshman of the Year and earning a spot on the NJCAA all-region first team. Abdul-Aleem received interest from Memphis, Georgetown, Gonzaga, and West Virginia among many others.
“Musa caught our eye this summer and was physically - at 6-5, 220 pounds - very gifted with his athleticism and strength, but his jump shot is an NBA type shot,” said Heath. “He shoots with range. He gets it off quick and shoots at a very high percentage. He’s definitely a guy that I think will be an instant impact and someone that will be talked about a lot next season.”
“Musa is a phenomenal athlete with great size that can shoot the lights out,” added Francis.
Overall, the three joining the Bulls mark the best class that coach Heath has signed since coming to Tampa.
“I think all three are guys that have competed against high level competition so taking that next step won’t be as much of an adjustment for them to compete at the BIG EAST level,” added Heath. “Also I think that all three are productive players with their ability to score and their ability to defend and make plays. I really expect all three to contribute and make our team extremely strong next season.”
The Bulls open the 2011-12 season this Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. when they face Vermont at the University of Tampa.