Men’s basketball hopes roster changes can translate to wins

Junior center Russel Tchewa will be able to contribute to the team’s efforts after recently arriving back in the U.S. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Moving forward from last year’s 8-23 season, the USF men’s basketball has made many changes to the roster, giving the program a new look. 

This offseason was certainly not an uneventful one. South Florida lost a senior to the transfer portal, but signed two freshmen and brought back nearly two thirds of the roster.

With the new roster ready to go for the season, the team will compete in 25 games total, 13 conference and 12 nonconference.

Notable opponents

Headlined by No. 3 Houston and No. 15 Auburn, the 2022-23 schedule presents a challenging path to March Madness for the Bulls.

Houston has one of the best basketball programs in the country right now, coming off of a 32-6 record that took it to first place in the AAC and a trip to the Elite Eight, where its season came to an end. 

When the two teams face off in Houston on Jan. 11, the Bulls will have their hands full with projected lottery pick 6-foot-8 freshman forward Jarace Walker, the No. 1 power forward in the country coming out of IMG academy, as well as projected first round pick 6-foot-2 senior guard Marcus Sasser, who averaged 17.7 ppg last year.  

After South Florida’s home opener against Southeast Missouri State, it will travel to Auburn to face the only other top 25 team on the schedule. The program has done well in the past few years, producing two top five picks in Houston Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. and Cleveland Cavaliers Isaac Okoro. 

If the Bulls want any chance to upset the Tigers, they will have to at least contain projected second round pick Chance Westry, a freshman who came out of highschool ranked the 44th best player in the country. The 6-foot-6 combo guard dribbles well and has an uncanny ability to create space. The Bulls defensive game plan starts with him.

One of the biggest conference matchups the Bulls participate in annually is against UCF. Last year, the Bulls hosted the War on I-4 and had one of their best performances of the year, beating their rival 75-51. South Florida ended the season in a second matchup against the Knights in Orlando, and lost by two points.

A component to the Bulls’ success against the Knights last season was defense, holding UCF to 2-20 from the three, and 19-57 from the field. South Florida has to shut down three level scorer senior forward CJ Walker. If they can do that, and execute the offensive gameplan, that is a recipe for two USF wins.

Other notable conference games include Memphis on Dec. 29, Cincinnati on Feb. 11, SMU on Feb. 25, Tulsa on March 1 and Wichita State on March 5. 

Notable nonconference matchups include UMass on Nov. 29, Northern Iowa on Dec. 12 and Dartmouth on Dec. 16.


South Florida was able to successfully retain nine out of 14 players, affording the team an opportunity to continue building on any of the chemistry or camaraderie that developed last season.

Seven-foot tall junior Russell Tchewa highlights this group, coming off a year in which he started 27 out of 29 games and averaged 8 ppg and 5.7 rpg. The athletic, rim protecting, big is set to have a big year starting at center this season.

Among the returning players is sophomore forward Corey Walker Jr., who started 12 out of 21 games that he played in last year. Likely set for an increased role in the upcoming season, the question for Walker is how consistently he can knock down the three ball. 

Also returning are sophomores forward DJ Patrick, guard Trey Moss and forward Sam Hines Jr.; juniors forward Jake Boggs and guard Jamir Chaplin; and seniors guard Serrel Smith Jr. and guard Mark Calleja. 


Despite the program bringing back players, USF lost a senior as well as a few other players to the transfer portal.

Starting guard Caleb Murphy was one of the more notable losses, who transferred to DePaul after playing the past two seasons with the Bulls.

Building his reputation through the Atlanta Celtics AAU program, Murphy was a four star high school recruit and ranked the 12th best guard in the nation, according to 247 Sports. However, the guard never quite lived up to expectations, averaging 10.3 ppg on poor shooting splits (FG: 39.7%, 3PT: 19.7%, FT: 55.9%) over his two years with the Bulls.

Although he shot poorly, Murphy still led the team in scoring last year, and his contribution will be missed.

Another noteworthy loss was 6-foot-4 starting guard Javon Green. After spending four years at George Mason and then transferring and playing one quick year with the Bulls as a fifth year senior, Javon finished his collegiate career being the team’s second leading scorer at 8.8 ppg. 

Other losses include forward Bayron Matos, who now plays for USF’s football team, forward Jaylen McCreary who transferred to Mercer and guard Lamont Evans IV who transferred to Saint Louis University.