Head coach Stan Heath and the USF men's basketball team suffered a big blow when it was announced that junior college transfer Waverly Austin, was ruled not eligible at USF and would be heading to another school.
No further details were released, but according to sources, Austin did earn his associate’s degree and is a qualifier according to the NCAA standards, but some of the classes from Palm Beach State were not accepted by USF and he was denied by the school.
The Bulls are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in twenty years, and were poised to make another run, but this latest development comes as a huge blow.
The 6-foot-11, 275 pound JUCO All-American was to give USF a much needed big inside presence with big men Augustus Gilchrist and Ron Anderson Jr. leaving following the end of last season, and was expected to be the Bulls starting center for the 2012-13 season.
Austin, who originally committed to the Bulls in 2010, re-signed with USF last November, was 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 at Palm Beach State College. Austin, received interest from Kansas and North Carolina among others before re-committing to the Bulls.
What Heath said about Austin when he re-committed.
“With our needs at the big man spot, there weren’t many big men in the country better than Waverly. He should be a guy that contributes very well for us in his first season,” said Heath. 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 would have been an impact player, but now Heath will have to look at other options for that inside presence
Unless something else happens, Heath will have to rely on his smaller big men, 6-foot-8, 245 senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, 6-foot-9, 229 pound forward Victor Rudd, and Kore White, a 6-foot-8, 241 pound senior forward, who transferred from FAU this summer. Heath does have a gigantic center on roster, Jordan Omogbehin, a 7-foot-3, 334 pound redshirt freshman, who is still developing.
USF does have star point guard Anthony Collins, wing Victor Rudd Jr., and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick as key players returning to Tampa, so the Bulls are still capable of returning to the NCAA tournament, but it will be that much harder now.Click it here for more info and to share your thoughts with other USF insiders..