As the University of South Florida men's basketball team became a Big East Conference contender, then as the Bulls came within one victory of the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, at least one person in suburban Dallas was in hoops heaven.
Meet Zach LeDay, a 6-foot-7, 217-pound forward from The Colony High. LeDay committed to USF after his visit in early January when the Bulls were a .500 team, back when they were still selling a dream. LeDay, who made it official Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period, said he couldn't be happier.
"I was wearing my USF stuff about every day to school,'' LeDay said. "I was fired up about it. I guess I'm coming at a good time.''
LeDay, who averaged 20.6 points and 8.4 rebounds for The Colony, also considered Missouri, Fresno State, Vanderbilt, LSU and George Mason. But he hit it off with another USF Texan – freshman point guard Anthony Collins of Houston – and bought into Stan Heath's vision.
"I just saw the potential in USF's program,'' said LeDay, who has a 3.3 grade-point average. "It's the Big East. We're going to continue to be a good team in the Big East and I think we'll be back in the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't think I'll be the only one interested in being part of this. The Sun Dome is going to be great. The practice facility is already there. It's in Tampa. I'm excited.''
Cleve Ryan, coach at The Colony, said he expects LeDay to become a power forward at USF, but his player also displayed some outside-shooting ability.
"He's a tough kid whose motor runs all the time at a high level and he's a mismatch because he's a 6-7 forward who can step out and shoot the ball well,'' USF assistant coach Steve Roccaforte said.
In the fall, USF signed 6-10 junior-college center Waverly Austin, 6-5 high-school combination guard JaVontae Hawkins and 6-5 swingman Musa Abdul-Aleem, who will have three seasons of eligibility. The Bulls have one remaining scholarship and 6-4 guard Sam Cassell Jr. of Baltimore is scheduled to visit USF this weekend.
There's also 6-6 swingman Martino Brock, a transfer from South Alabama, and 7-3 Jordan Omogbehin, who sat out last season.
"We're going to be good,'' LeDay said. "I'm glad to be part of it.''
Baseball on the road
Following Tuesday night's 6-4 late-inning loss at Stetson – which made the Bulls 3-8 against teams from the state of Florida – Lelo Prado's USF baseball team (23-11, 8-1) returns to Big East Conference play with a three-game series beginning Friday night at Pittsburgh (15-15, 2-7). The Bulls are tied for first in the Big East with Connecticut (19-13, 8-1) and just ahead of Louisville (24-9, 7-2).
Football coach Skip Holtz said Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd, who are the co-backup quarterbacks on USF's initial depth chart, will be "live'' in Saturday's Green and Gold Bowl spring game at the Corbett Soccer Stadium (Saturday, 6 p.m., free and open to the public). They are fair game for the defensive pass-rushers. Starting QB B.J. Daniels, though, will be wearing the protective red jersey. "It's different standing in the pocket with the plastic bubble around you,'' Holtz said. … Senior tight end Andreas Shields will likely miss the remainder of spring drills because of procedures he is undergoing to solve what Holtz termed "a non-football situation, a pancreas issue.'' Holtz expects Shields back for training camp. … Safety JaQuez Jenkins, who opened eyes in last week's scrimmage, is out with a concussion.