In January 2011, Arlington Country Day shooting guard Shawn Smith verbally committed to Central Florida, turning down offers from Florida, Florida State, and several other high-level schools.
UCF was later found to have been violating NCAA recruiting rules during this time. According to the NCAA's report of findings, five "2011 men's basketball prospective student-athlete[s]" were impermissibly contacted between October 2010 and July 2011, by Ken Caldwell.
Yup. This guy:
Now, we don't know if Shawn Smith was one of those five players, as the names were redacted from the published version of the NCAA's letter. But he was recruited by UCF, and verballed there to the surprise of many, at the same time Ken Caldwell was working his magic. Let's leave it at that.
On Twitter this morning, was this news item from Jon Rothstein:
Shawn Smith (Lee College, 6-4, SG) has committed to South Florida, source told @CBSSports. Two years of eligibility remaining.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 22, 2015
Yes, it's the same Shawn Smith. So how did he go from program-changing UCF signee to USF by way of Lee College?
Later in 2011, he de-committed from UCF and verbally committed to Missouri, but ended up signing with Texas A&M. He was ruled a partial qualifier, and had to sit out the 2012-13 season. (Yes, UCF's program-changing signee couldn't even have played if he'd gone there.)
The next season, he was a part-time starter for a decent (18-16) A&M team, playing 22 minutes per game, scoring 5.7 points. But he had to sit out some games with vague "personal issues," and left A&M after the season, as did several other players. If you can stomach message board talk, this long thread at a Texas A&M fan forum goes into detail about Smith's career with the Aggies.
USF coach Orlando Antigua was recently at Lee College to scout three players: Smith; guard Tyrone Outlaw, who has an offer from USF but is getting ACC/SEC attention; and power forward Andre Pierce, a freshman from Jacksonville who is a name to watch in next year's recruiting cycle. Smith was a 3-star recruit out of high school -- ESPN.com gave him 4 -- and considered a top JUCO prospect this year. Schools such as Tennessee and Marquette were interested.
His former Division I coach, Billy Kennedy, described him as "our most athletic player [and] a good defensive player." He's also a good rebounder for a guard, averaging 3.2 rpg in 22 minutes in his one Division I season, and 4.4 rpg for Lee. He's been described by observers as the raw, athletic type that USF seems to get a lot of. I'm imagining Cedric Smith, with Jawanza Poland's athleticism and Blake Nash's transcript.
Here's some AAU footage of Smith from a few years ago. It's also probably the last time you'll ever see UCF's hilariously crappy old arena with the garage door.
If Shawn Smith signs with the Bulls -- it's not official yet -- he would join PF Luis Santos, SF Tulio da Silva, and SG Jahmal McMurray, all of whom joined USF in the early signing period. Still up in the air is the status of 6'7" Dominican star Luis Montero, who verbally commited back in November, but has not yet signed. The delay may stem from a transcript fraud scandal that led his Westchester Junior College to suspend its entire basketball program.
It's also worth noting that adding this many players will probably necessitate some departures from the program. We won't speculate at this time.