Jose Fernandez’s first recruiting class as USF women’s basketball coach made people take notice as all four recruits ranked nationally in the top 50 at their position. His second class may turn heads again.
Today, Fernandez and the Bulls are expected to gain their first commitment for the 2002-03 season. Angela Hawkins, a 6-foot-3-inch center, has scheduled a press conference for noon where she is expected to commit to USF. Hawkins, a senior at Winter Haven High School, is ranked No. 60 in the nation by All Star Girls Report Newsletter.
“She’s the biggest recruit in the history of South Florida,” Mike White, editor of the All Star Girls Report Newsletter said. “One of the top players to ever come here (USF) from the state of Florida. Probably the impact of what B.B. Waldon did coming here out of Lakeland Prep for Seth Greenberg, that’s what Angela Hawkins is going to do for Jose.” Hawkins is ranked as the 14th best player in the nation at her position, and figures to combine with 6-foot 5-inch Jameelah Trimble, a transfer from Florida, to give the Bulls an imposing frontcourt next season. Trimble must sit out this season under NCAA guidelines for transfers.
“She’ll be a versatile player at USF,” White said. “She’ll play a lot of the five (center) position or the four (power forward) and even a little at the three (small forward).”
Providence, Kentucky, Alabama and Iowa were all in pursuit of Hawkins, the fourth-best player in the state according to White. An All-Star at the Adidas Top 100 camp this summer, Hawkins led Winter Haven to a runner-up finish in the 2001 Florida 4A state championships.
Fernandez garnered the 36th ranked class in the nation, despite a 4-24 record a year ago and bad publicity from the Jerry Ann Winters’ racial allegations.
“I wouldn’t say it was so much making people forget (the Winters’ situation),” White said of Fernandez’s recruiting. “He just sells what’s tomorrow – the future, building a national top-25 program. He’s definitely one of the young, Generation X coaches in the game right now. He’s actually being compared to Geno Auriemma, when Geno took over UCONN back when he was in his early 30s.”
Just 31 years old and in only his second season, Fernandez has plenty more chances to establish USF’s identity on a national scale with his recruiting.
“He’s very young, one of the great X’s and O’s minds in the game, which people will really get to see this year because he’s going to have the talent to utilize his offense – what he likes to do with shooting the three,” White said.
“Basically, he can just relate to kids. He comes across clear and to the point. Some programs say we can do this (for you) and we can do that (for you), he says come here, work hard and I’ll make you a great player.”