Welcome back to our two-part preview of the 2011-2012 USF basketball team. If you missed the preview of the backcourt, you can find it here.
After the spring signing period last year, USF looked pretty set in the post. Part-time starter Jarrid Famous was gone, but the Bulls returned the other three posts in the rotation. Add in a bigtime transfer as a legitimate small forward and two centers with some size and it looked like the Bulls had some actual depth down low for the first time in years.
Then the eligibility issues started. JUCO C Andre Jackson wasn't allowed to enroll at USF, as he did not meet NCAA transfer regulations. Jackson was able to land at Cal State Bakersfield, who runs on quarters instead of semesters and was able to take care of the issues that disallowed his move to Tampa. Then 7'3" freshman Jordan Omogbehin had issues with the NCAA as well in regards to his eligibility, and it took an appeal for USF to even have Jordan on campus this year. The NCAA awarded the waiver to Omogbehin, but one of the stipulations was that Jordan had to sit out this year. Even if Omogbehin was eligible, he recently underwent surgery to repair cartilage in his knee and is out 8-10 months while he recovers. Jordan should be fully recovered and ready to go for the Bulls next season.
Now onto the players who can actually play for USF this year.
Leading the way for the posts is 6'10" SR Augustus Gilchrist. The Clinton, MD native averaged 13.4 PTS/6.0 REB in 30 games last year. Augustus is by far the most talented player offensively, and he showed flashes of his immense talent last season. He has the ability to score from both inside and on the perimeter, but his shot selection at various times last year was poor as the drifted off to the perimeter for long stretches. When he has his mind set, Gilchrist can play with anyone in the Big East. Before he went down with his high ankle sprain two years ago, it was Gilchrist and not Dominique Jones who led the Bulls in scoring.
Starting alongside Gilchrist in the paint this year is 6'8" SR Ron Anderson Jr. The transfer from Kansas State averaged 7.0 PTS/6.4 REB in his first year at USF, and quickly became one of our favorite players at Voodoo Five. Anderson has a high motor and does all the little things basketball fans love. Anderson rarely strayed far from the paint last year, although he is accurate from inside 15-feet. If there is one thing Anderson has to work on, its his penchant for picking up fouls. Ron averaged almost 3 fouls a game and fouled out 5 times last year. With only two other posts on the roster, it is imperative that he doesn't give up those cheap fouls he committed at times last year.
Rounding out the starting lineup at small forward is 6'8" SOPH Victor Rudd. Rudd sat out all of last year after transferring from Arizona State, but he has been turning heads in practice since arriving on campus. Rudd is an excellent athlete who can create his own shot from anywhere on the court. During the exhibition against the University of Tampa on Saturday, Rudd was 2-3 from three while also wowing the crowd with a couple of high-flying dunks. Victor's size will also help out with the depth in the post in case anyone gets into foul trouble.
Rounding out the roster is 6'8" JR Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. The Tampa native saw his minutes cut back last year with Anderson Jr. jumping in the rotation, but his production stayed exactly the same as last year as he averaged 4.3 PTS/4.1 REB off the bench last season. Fitzpatrick had a great offseason and really improved his overall game according to Coach Heath. Fitzpatrick can play anywhere from the 3-5 without much of a drop off, and his versatility will be needed this season.