Stan Heath, whose eight-year head coaching career has already included three NCAA tournament appearances and two NBA players (Ronnie Brewer & Sonny Weems), is building something special at the University of South Florida. After leading the Bulls to the school’s first victory against a top-10 ranked team – a 57-56 win against No. 8 Marquette last February – Heath is at it again. The Bulls have caught fire recently, beating No. 7 Georgetown last night for their fourth Big East victory in a row, after they beat No. 17 Pitt on Sunday.
An outstanding recruiter throughout his career, there is no doubt that Heath has upgraded the talent at USF in his first two seasons. With another strong recruiting class for 2009-10, this means the Bulls’ improvement – this year and beyond – should continue. Below, Heath pitches you on why you should play for the Big East’s hottest team.
Why pick the University of South Florida? It’s a no-brainer. Big East basketball in sunny Tampa, Florida, 73 degrees year-round and a great education. It doesn’t get much better than that. Plus you have an opportunity right away, early in your career, to be an impact player; to help the program do something special that hasn’t been done.
I think when we first joined the league, there was a lot of question marks. We knew football-wise it was a great fit, but for basketball, we had a long ways to go. It got to a point where we really weren’t putting enough talent out there on the floor. Now we’re coming into this season, and we feel like we have enough players to matchup against the teams in our league.
Every year’s a little bit different. We recruit for needs, we recruit for someone who can impact us in a high level. This coming year, we need a little bit of everything. We’re looking for size, we’re looking for a strong wing player and we’re looking for another point guard. We’re looking for players at positions that can help our team get better and improve.
A player’s toughness, how competitive they are and their character – those intangibles are very, very important. And I think those players fit very well with me and our program. Also, a guy who comes out of our program will feel like he’s in a family environment. He’s in an environment where the coach is gonna care about him and help him grow not only as a basketball player, but as a person and a student. And really care about his education as he goes forward in life.
Our football team has done an unbelievable job with the success they’ve had of really exciting the students. And they’re crazy, they’re a crazy group of kids. We found that the more successful you are, the more they come out. They’re very hungry and have a big appetite for successful basketball. And you can feel that passion around campus. Not only with the talent we’re bringing in, but with the fan base.
When I’m in the room, the first thing is I talk about the relationship that a young man would have with myself, and how I’m going to play an active role in his life as he goes forward. And the next thing I talk about is the University of South Florida – the education, the people, being a part of the Big East Conference and how he fits in. As for Tampa, we never have a problem getting a visit, I can promise you that. They all love to visit.
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