USF basketball is celebrating their 40th year of basketball this season, and the recruiting class that Stan Heath has going might just be the best in school history. Heath's class was already looking like a good one when he received the verbals of JUCO players Musa Abdul-Aleem and Waverly Austin last month, but the pledge of Huntington Prep SG JaVontae Hawkins pushed the quality of this class up a notch.
The 6'5" Hawkins is considered one of the best wings in the country, and his verbal commitment gives USF its first Top 100 recruit since Yusuf Baker back in 2002. There are many reasons why Hawkins chose USF, including the ability for immediate playing time and a good relationship with Heath and assistant Andy Hipsher, but the brand new Muma Center certainly helped things out.
The new 50,000 square building has quickly turned into one of the best practice facilities in the country. Before the Muma Center was built, both basketball teams and the volleyball team had to share The Corral, a smaller gym attached to the Sun Dome. If there was a scheduling conflict, one team had to move to the campus recreation center where bums like me played for fun. This was a huge negative for most top recruits over the last decade, and USF would be forced to take JUCO recruits, transfers, and lightly recruited players. With the Muma Center now, that's all changed. Corey Dowlar of Bulls 24/7 spoke with Hawkins and he basically said that without the Muma Center he would not have considered the Bulls.
The facility is starting to create a buzz with some of the best recruits around the state, including the Florida Rams AAU team. Class of 2012 C Landry Nnoko and Class of 2013 5-Star recruits PG Kasey Hill and PF Chris Walker have each stopped by to visit the Muma Center, and at least the former two are considering the Bulls at this point. You would have to believe without the Muma Center and the soon to be renovated Sun Dome that each of these players would not have given USF a second thought.
With Big East basketball (at least for now), great weather, the chance to play immediately, and now some of the best facilities in the country, Coach Heath now has all the tools to properly build the team the way he wants.