There's been a lot of news regarding the USF men's basketball team that's flown under the radar this past week, so let's get caught up.
Rising sophomore Troy Holston, who emerged late last season as USF's best offensive threat and first capable three-point shooter since... I genuinely don't know (Toarlyn Fitzpatrick? Brian Swift??), suffered a torn ACL last week. There's a long rehab process ahead for Troy, and it's a safe bet he'll miss, at the very least, any games the Bulls play in the 2015 calendar year.
This is devastating not just for Troy, but also for the Bulls' prospects next season. Holston only averaged 7.9 points per game last season, but check out the splits:
First 20 Games: 4.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 23.2% from three.
Last Nine Games: 15.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 41.5% from three,
There was more than enough reason to believe that Troy had turned a corner and would be USF's top offensive weapon for the 2015-16 season. At any rate, Holston's health and long-term progress are most important here, so there's no need to rush him back to what's likely to be a fairly average season. And so, #TROYWATCH begins.
Incoming JUCO transfer Shawn Smith wasn't likely to be a superstar at USF, but the hope was that he could provide a viable scoring threat off the bench, and he might've been in line for a bigger role with Holston hurt. Unfortunately, Russ Wood from USF's Rivals site reported that Smith won't be enrolling ($$). USF has yet to confirm the news, so I'll hold off on speculating what this means until we get more information. Rest assured that while it's not devastating, it's not a good loss for a team that really needs a scoring punch.
In an attempt to end this on a happier note, Penn State rising junior guard Geno Thorpe announced his plans to transfer to USF. He'll likely have to sit out this season and have two years of eligibility left.
Thorpe was a serviceable if inefficient player in his two seasons in Happy Valley. The 6'3", 180 lb. guard averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in 2014, though he only shot 39.7% from the field and 30.8% from three. Those aren't particularly impressive numbers, but moving to the AAC should help, and he should still be a solid addition to the rotation at guard in 2016. We'll have more on Thorpe as the ink dries on this one.
The main takeaway from all this is-- and I know this is what no one wants to hear-- 2016 is likely going to be the payoff year for USF basketball. The Bulls will be vastly improved this season, but they still have a number of holes and a ton of inexperience; a fair expectation would be around .500 play and a smooth recovery for Troy. They'll be losing only Nehemias Morillo, Angel Nunez and Jaleel Cousins in 2016 (and adding Thorpe and assumedly a handful of recruits), so this team's got plenty of potential. Just be patient.
It also bears mentioning that if Smith is indeed not enrolling, the Bulls still have one open scholarship for 2015, and Antigua has been impressive on the recruiting trail thus far. Stay tuned.