McCullum announces late signees

USF men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum announced his 2004 late signing class at a news conference Tuesday and said that all three newcomers could possibly crack the Bulls’ starting lineup next season, even if he had trouble pronouncing one of their names.

The team added guard Montavious Waters and forwards Marius Prekevicius — whose name McCullum took the time to correctly pronounce — and Maurice Mobley to go with guard Collin Dennis and forward Solomon Jones, who both signed in the fall. However, McCullum said he might not be done in the late recruiting period and hinted he might sign one or even two more players.

There were two common themes among McCullum’s first recruiting class at USF — all of them can score and all will come into the program and compete immediately for playing time.

“There could be nine or 10 guys, undoubtedly, capable of starting,” McCullum said. “The bench is the best weapon out there. So there could be not that much of a difference between the guy who starts and the guy who doesn’t. And you want it that way.”

McCullum said transfer guard Chris Capko, who came to the Bulls midseason from the University of Florida and will be eligible after fall grades come out, could also be added to this recruiting class. Capko, who is a walk-on and will not be on scholarship, has the advantage of being with the team and becoming accustomed to McCullum’s system, which will enhance his ability to earn playing time, according to McCullum.

The abilities to score and play right away were crucial to all three recruits, McCullum said. Waters brings a developed 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame to the point guard position out of Westover High School in Albany, Ga., where he averaged 19.5 points a game and made first-team all state. Waters and Dennis could form the Bulls’ starting backcourt when the team enters the Big East in 2005.

“In four years, they have the potential to have people saying, ‘How did they get those two guys?'” McCullum said.

However, even with the senior backcourt tandem of Bradley Mosley and Brian Swift returning next season, McCullum said he doesn’t plan to redshirt either Dennis or Waters, which, if done, would give them four years in the Big East, because “we want to create as competitive of an atmosphere as we possibly can … and they won’t be as prepared to play in the Big East if they redshirt because they would not have the game experience. We need to get those guys 28 to 30 games (and that) will mean far more than if they redshirted and furthermore, they’re too good and too talented.”

Prekevicius, who will play for the Lithuanian under-21 team this summer, brings three years of eligibility after playing one year at Weatherford College in Texas. Prekevicius previously played one year of high-school ball at Florida Air Academy in Melbourne.

Mobley brings the size, checking in at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Playing for Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., he averaged 12.1 points and 8.8 rebounds to earn all-conference and all-region honors.

Though all the players McCullum brought in are capable of putting points on the board, something McCullum indicated was problematic at times during last season, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Bulls will stray away from going through Terrence Leather, who proved he was capable of being a go-to player last season.

“It won’t change very much in terms of what we do, although I won’t sit here and tell you we’ll do the exact same things we did last year. Keep in mind, players make plays work,” McCullum said. “All those things we’ve done, we’ll execute a lot better because we’ll have more players and better players than we had last year.”

Oracle Sports Editor Adam Adkins contributed to this report.