Bulls debut freshmen class in exhibition


USF freshman point guard Josh Heath, son of coach Stan Heath, softly floated an alley-oop in the direction of freshman center John Egbunu.

Egbunu timed his jump precisely with the peak of the ball and slammed it into the hoop.

The crowd at the USF Sun Dome erupted in approval for the first time of the young season.

The USF men’s basketball team began its season Monday night with an exhibition game against Barry University with a victory, 88-53.

With starting point guard Anthony Collins out due to a knee injury, the Bulls relied on more of their young players.

Collins was out due to swelling in his knee that has not decreased, and the coaching staff is trying to get him healthy for the first game of the regular season on Saturday night.

Stan Heath commented on Collins’ lingering health issues with uncertainty.

“I hope it’s tomorrow, but I don’t know when it’s going to be,” he said. “I’m praying he can play (Saturday), but I can’t say yes or no.”

The Bulls freshmen class has had much anticipation built around them and on Monday night, USF fans were able to see them play for the first time.

The freshmen class for the 2013-14 season includes forward Dre Clayton, forward Chris Perry, guard Bo Zeigler, Josh Heath and Egbunu. Out of these five players, only Egbunu, Heath and Perry played more than five minutes during the game.

Egbunu and Perry led the group statistically with 10 points. Perry contributed eight rebounds, and Egbunu had four rebounds and three blocks.

“I think we only saw a glimpse of Chris,” Stan Heath said. “Chris can do a lot more. He’s going to be one of our best low-post guys.”

Egbunu was the No. 64 player in this year’s class of freshmen according to ESPN and displayed some of this potential with his powerful blocks and slam dunks Monday.

“You just throw the ball up in the air and he goes way up above everybody,” coach Heath said. “I tell the players, send it to John, he’ll take care of it.”

Heath isn’t the only one who was impressed with the performances of the freshmen.

Senior forward Victor Rudd believes the young big players have a lot to add to the team.

“As you can see, they’re going to rebound and have a lot of blocked shots. John is going to be a consistent shot blocker this year,” Rudd said. “They both run the floor real well so that’s good.”

The other impactful contributor for the Bulls was Heath, who played 22 minutes due to Collins being held out of the game.

Heath does not figure to be a big part of the rotation when Collins comes back, but he displayed good ball-handling with three assists and no turnovers.

This game was merely an exhibition game to prepare for the regular season, but it put some of the freshmen on display and gave Bulls fans something to cheer about.

With such a talented crop of young players, the Bulls hope to turn their fortunes around from last year’s 12-19 record. The regular season begins Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Sun Dome against Tennessee Tech.