With the opening tipoff for the USF men’s basketball team still four days away, the Bulls took a major step in the right direction – for next season.
USF signed three players on the first day of November’s early signing period Wednesday, including one of the most sought-after forwards in the nation, Yusuf Baker.
“Yusuf is as good a high school rebounder as there is in the country,” coach Seth Greenberg said. “He is explosive off the floor, is physically strong, yet still has the ability to get even stronger.”Baker, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward, has been listed as one of America’s top 25 players at his position by several publications and was named a Street and Smith’s honorable mention All-American.
“He is a physical presence who, with his quickness, has the ability to block shots and is only going to get better,” Greenberg said.
After a stellar sophomore season at Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, Baker tore his anterior cruciate ligament and missed the majority of his junior year. But Baker rebounded impressively at several national camps, including the prestigious Nike Camp, this summer.
“Even before he injured his knee last season, he was rated as one of the top 10 sophomore players in the nation,” Greenberg said.
USF also inked guard Danny Oglesby from Hamden Hall, Conn. Wednesday. The 6-foot-2 Oglesby is one of the premier scorers in Connecticut high school history (27 points per game as a junior and currently ranked seventh on the state’s all-time career scoring list) and has led his team to the New England Prep School Championship three times.
“Daniel is just a very good basketball player, from a basketball family,” Greenberg said. “He is athletic and can shoot the ball with range. Daniel is the total package.”
Sam Barber, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Lake Worth High School, rounds out the trio of players signed Wednesday. Barber averaged 20 ppg and 11 boards as a junior and was named to the Street and Smith honorable mention All-American team.
“Sam is a solid wing player who can play either the shooting guard or small forward positions,” Greenberg said. “He has good ball skills and is a complete player with good toughness.”
For the first time since 1997, the USF women’s basketball team inked a Florida prep senior when coach Jose Fernandez announced the signing of guard Valerie De Velasco Wednesday. Velasco averaged 26.3 points and 9.2 assists per game at Miami Senior last season and was rated as the second-best point guard in Florida according to the All-Star Girls Report.
“She finds a way to score from all over the court,” Fernandez said. “She can penetrate, go right or left, or pass and distribute. Val is definitely an impact on the offensive end of the court.”
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