USF guard Shaun Noriega watched the majority of the 2012-13 basketball season from the bench due to afractured foot.
He was a senior last year, and though he will likely be granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA which will allow him one more season of scholarship eligibility, Noriega said he will not be returning to the hardwood as a Bull.
“It was the best opportunity for me. I’ve been here for four years and it hasn’t really gone the way I wanted it to, and I really just think it’s time for me to leave,” Noriega said. “I appreciate everything USF has done for me, but it was time for me to move on.”
With hopes of the 6-foot-4, three-point shooter getting the medical redshirt, Noriega said USF coach Stan Heath offered him a scholarship to play for the 2013-14 season. Noriega said he turned down the offer with hopes to “spread his wings” at a new school, taking his talents elsewhere by being asked to be released by USF.
“I felt I wasn’t used right my whole career, so I want to try something different, go somewhere where my style of play is a better fit than what they’re trying to do here,” Noriega said.
Bulls fans got to know his name during the Big East tournament in 2011, when the guard, who has a totalthree-point shooting percentage of 36.4, showed that he can step into the role as a shooter quite nicely — a role Noriega wants to break out of.
“My strength is shooting, moving and motion offense, and USF was more ball screens and stand still,” Noriega said. “I’m ready to take my game to another level.”
In a 70-69 win over Villanova in the 2011 conference tournament, Noriega had his fingerprints all over the upset, scoring 22 points, which included going 4-for-4 from the three-point range in the first four minutes.In the eight games he did play last season, Noriega looked to be on his way to his best season yet. He was averaging 8.4 points per game, a career high, and was shooting 39 percent from the field, another career high.USF, a team that went 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the Big East last season, could have used some of that shooting spark that Noriega provided.
With a Bulls team that was last in both scoring offense and shooting percentage and in the bottom half of three-point shooting in the conference, Heath’s scholarship offer could be a way to help with that aspect of the team and retain one of its bigger threats beyond the arch.
Noriega also added an aspect to USF that can’t be replaced so soon: experience. Having him play as a fifth-year senior would have made him the most veteran player on the team next to forward Victor Rudd, who is entering his senior year next season.Aside from Rudd and junior guard Anthony Collins, Heath and the Bulls will be looking for major contribution out of their younger players next season.
With Noriega off the roster for the Bulls, leaving USF to rebuild its strengths, the only thing for him to do now is look for a new team to accommodate his talents and open up his game, pending the medical redshirt status.Noriega said has spoken with a few schools, and while he didn’t want to reveal what schools showed interest, he said he hopes that wherever he lands, it will put him one step closer to his goal to go pro.
“I definitely want to play professionally and, if I can, make money off of basketball,” Noriega said. “So I’m just going to continue to work hard.”
Though Noriega said he didn’t agree with the way he was used as a Bull, he plans to take what he learned in the USF uniform onto his next team.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “The good thing about playing in the Big East is that it’s something special when you play against great competition every day, so I think I definitely got better and improved.” Noriega said. “I can take a lot away from my career here.”
Noriega said the matter was handled professionally between him and Heath despite not seeing eye-to-eye. While his days as Bull are behind him, his days on the court are not.