TAMPA – The exodus continues with the University of South Florida men’s basketball program. And it might not be finished, leaving new coach Orlando Antigua with a massive roster overhaul heading into his first season.
Four players have left USF’s program since Stan Heath’s firing. Shooting guard Musa Abdul-Aleem, who graduated in December and averaged 4.1 points last season, is no longer with the team, according to team spokesman Steven Schoon.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard JaVontae Hawkins, who averaged 3.7 points and had a career-high 15 points against Cincinnati, is also departing. On Twitter, Hawkins wrote, “Thank God for my two years of experience at USF. I appreciate everyone during my decision of departure. Looking forward to the future.’’
Previously, freshman point guard Josh Heath, the former coach’s son, received his release and committed to Georgia Tech, where he’s expected to become immediately eligible. Sophomore forward Zach LeDay also will transfer.
The Bulls, 12-20 last season, have signed two guards with strong outside shooting ability, Oldsmar Christian’s Troy Holston and Faith Baptist’s Dinero Mercurius.
Meanwhile, the status of junior point guard Anthony Collins, voted second-team All-American Athletic Conference in the preseason, remains uncertain.
Collins is expected to graduate this spring, which makes him available to transfer and become immediately eligible at another school. Collins, a Houston native, is still considering the graduation/transfer option though, last week, Antigua said Collins participated in the team’s offseason conditioning.
“He has been great in the workouts we’ve had,’’ Antigua said. “He has been getting his conditioning better. We’ll keep pushing him. He’s a heck of a talent. I think he has a bright future.’’
Collins missed 24 games due to swelling in his left knee following offseason surgery. He played in just eight games, averaging 6.9 points and 5.9 assists. As a freshman, Collins was a catalyst on USF’s first NCAA tournament team in 20 years. As a sophomore, he averaged 6.5 assists, ranking 14th nationally.
Antigua acknowledged the possibility of a dramatic roster change, but added he and his staff were investigating any means to add players, whether it was from high school, junior college or transfers.
“The challenge initially when you take over a program is there are a lot of unknowns,’’ Antigua said. “You don’t know them. They don’t know you. You don’t know their experience. The ability to close that gap in a short amount of time is key.
“We’re in the middle of doing that, trying to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, get them doing academically what they need to be doing, so they’re in a position to continue to be part of the program.’’