CBSSports.com is reporting that Angel Nunez, a graduate transfer from Gonzaga, will sign with South Florida. He is eligible to play immediately, and will have one year of eligibility for USF.
Nunez is an athletic 6-8 forward, originally from the Dominican Republic, and went to high school in New York City. No doubt Orlando Antigua's coaching connections were a factor in convincing him to come to Tampa. He was recruited by Miami, Florida, and various Big East schools coming out of high school.
Here's a trivia question you can stump a Bulls fan with someday: "Who was the last USF basketball player to have played in the Big East?" The answer is Nunez, who signed with Louisville out of high school, and got into twelve games during the 2011-12 season. In fact, one of those twelve games was USF's historic Leap Year Day win at Louisville, the game that pushed USF off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament. Nunez went 0-for-3 from the field for the Cardinals that day. Already, he's done more to help USF win a big game than 98% of everyone who ever suited up for the Bulls.
Halfway through his sophomore season, Nunez transferred out of Louisville, having seen no action that season. He played a season and a half at Gonzaga, playing about 7 minutes a game for an extremely good team. He graduated from Gonzaga earlier this year, making him eligible for a graduate transfer. That he chose to exercise it did not surprise anyone in Spokane, who saw Nunez as miscast in their offensive scheme. Some comments from our sister site, The Slipper Still Fits:
"He never seemed comfortable on the floor in Mark Few's system and was constantly caught off rotation and out of place."
"I think we had him playing PF when his naturally position seemed to be a SF. In the limited minutes he played I was impressed by his ability to defend on the perimeter and bother shots with his length."
"Few kept using him as a 4-5 when he’s clearly better suited to a 3 or even stretch 2. He has height but lacks girth. He has crazy long arms, wingspan something like 7’4" IIRC. He dribbled OK when he had the (rare) opportunity. The right coach in the right system and we’ll be saying, 'why didn’t we play him better?'"
Also, Nunez has a history of head injuries. A severe concussion derailed his Louisville career, and Nunez missed games at Gonzaga with head injuries. (He was granted a medical redshirt for the 2012-13 season.)
So what do the Bulls have in Nunez? As a prospect, he was compared to Louisville/Dominican Republic great Francisco Garcia. But observers think his game is still very raw, even though he turns 24 this year. Everyone at Louisville and Gonzaga spoke well of him as a teammate, but a history of head injuries is always scary. Overall, this seems like a low risk/high reward signing. Perhaps Coach O's scheme is the right fit for Nunez, and he puts together a solid season. If he's injured or ineffective, the scholarship opens up again after the season.
The truth will probably be somewhere in the middle. Nunez was good enough to contribute to a 35-win team. If he can help USF win half that many games, the 2015-16 season will be a success.