Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Breaking Down The CROP

They arrive in droves, well prior to the main event. Well prior to kick-off. You can spot them from miles away, hyped as ever and dressed to the nines in green or black.

  They are littered in face paint, with numbers etched across their stomachs in black paint. The hiked up spirit has been the driving force for an unrivaled and unhinged Section 1 fan base, THE CROP.

For years, the Huskers devout student fan base has done everything to create havoc for opponents entering these hostile confines of Charlie Murphy Field. It goes way beyond that. Yorktown's fans are schooled on the opponent and know every little detail you can imagine, sprucing up the creative chants that echo off into the distance, only to be remembered during alumni gatherings re-visiting epic games. That's how impactful the CROP is to Yorktown's athletic scene. Calling them the sixth man would be an overused and understated cliche. The CROP has driven fanfare to unprecedented levels, with a laundry-list of one-liners emanating from the jam-packed bleachers. 

 In basketball, shooting an airball against Yorktown will quickly earn you a game-long nickname. It will alter your perception as a player from the start. A missed layup, an ill-advised or errant pass, those will earn you more than just bench splinters with this limitations-free family of hecklers.

 You will hear taunts the moment your fingertips make contact with that Spalding. 

There are drums and horns and fans calling for your starting spot, calling for your roster spot, suggesting that you're better suited for JV and modified. All game long, they are in your ear. When the home team hits a shot or tosses in a putback or breaks a drought, the eruption becomes ear-shattering cresendo.

 It's a pressure cooker if there is such a thing in high school athletics.

This renders Yorktown one fo the toughest places in Section 1 to play, no matter what team is on the floor. Whether it is five studs or five duds, you will hear that steady onslaught of digs and colorful rips everytime you touch the rock. Your game is under a sheer magnifying glass in these confines.

Expect much of the same this football season. The CROP brings the ruckus with a cast of unique characters. There is a bone-thin, floppy-haired man who goes by "Jesus." 

There are costumes. 

There are various attempts at the finer art of excessive celebration, as CROPPERS set off smoke displays and what appears to be kiddie fireworks and create a sideshow that mirrors the battle on the field.

 Few have given THE CROP the business. 

The most notable CROP rival on this side of the Section  has to be the Mahopac Maniacs. Those who recall some of those boys basketball games of 2010 and 2011, remember the pure fan theater. The Jordan Moody, Jacob Mercado, Alex Poritzy, Chris Mosca, and Chris Schmitz team versus Mahopac with guys like Ryan Wagner, Anthony Annunziata, Robbie Catalino, and TJ Foley were as memorable on the court for the war of words in the bleachers. The pure animosity of a Yankees vs. Red Sox or a UNC v.s North Carolina was on display. The hate was real. The beef was cooking. This was not Week 1 of freshman orientation--nobody was looking to make new friends.

Don't sleep on Panas, which was outnumbered but never the less helped stage a battle during the home and away game last season. The beef trickled to Twitter afterwards. 

Tensions ran high. Hard stares were returned. Words of warning were launched, each reaction mirroring a wild jab-for-jab showcase against Walter Panas this past season. 

THE CROP won't alter their tempo or change their energy for the opponent. They want the foe to remember the name and know they were there. THE CROP has created a known and expected sideshow and a homefield advantage which few programs possess.

Everyone gets into the act. The humor, the taunts, the bad blood between the rival fans and the vast array of costumes add plenty of entertainment value you won't get elsewhere.

Like a highly-regarded athlete eager to prove himself on a grand stage, the CROP intensifies during post-season battles. Never was this more evident than the beginning of June. 

Against a Jamesville-DeWitt fan base, the CROP unveiled a chorus-like "I BELIEVE" chant which sent the bleachers into a frenzy. Like conductors leading an orchestra through its routine cadence, the CROP's poster boys create the themes and discuss which chants to pepper the field with. They are shirtless and bleeding of uncontrollable energy and ready to erupt immediately following a goal.

Never more was this evident during the most dramatic play of the game.



A trio of Jamesville-DeWitt players swarmed and swatted him in unison, but Yorktown's Austin Fusco blurred out of traffic.

Motoring up Hofstra University's turf, the defenseman's eyes were burning and his head was overflowing with steam.

Yorktown's seventh New York State Championship was hanging in the balance.

A lofty goal, etched on the chalkboard since the first day of winter workouts, was at stake here.

Buoyed by a cage-to-cage burst of momentum, Fusco ditched his original plan.

Initially, Fusco's intentions were to whizz the rock to an angle side shooter for a transition pull-and-pop.

He had gone over the play a hundred times. He applied it during Yorktown's state semifinal win over Lynbrook, hitting Connor Vercruysse for a transition snipe.

This time, Fusco's legs kept flying. Adrenaline spiked through the senior's 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame at a maniacal rate.

The net looked wider than Sparkle Lake.

It looked wider than the Hudson River to the emotional senior captain and Defensive Game MVP.

As he coasted into the attack area, Fusco cocked back and ripped one into the top shelf, supplying a 10-8 edge with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.

If this was an indoor game, the roof would have been torn completely off. That's how electric the revved up CROP's reaction was. This was lacrosse bedlam, a state power hell-bent on regaining its elitism behind its crazed crowd.

Though graduation claims some of the CROP's most noble and notable faces, will the wild fan base continue to kill it at a maniacal rate in 2014-15?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Corace Named Lincoln Memorial's First Ever Women's Lacrosse Coach

A wealth of coaching experience in two NCAA sports, a potent lacrosse bloodline, active involvement in both the Club Lax circuit as well as the prestigious Maverick Showtime Lacrosse Camp (Danbury, Conn.), a showcase event for a sea of the nation's top-shelf recruits.

All of this helped Caitlyn Corace become the first-ever head women's lacrosse coach at Lincoln Memorial  University (Tenn.).

Dr. B James Dawson noted her experience and connections with some of the nation's rich Northeast recruiting waters as promising attributes that factored into her hiring.

Corace, the daughter of legendary Mahopac coach Joe Corace, a staunch defensive enthusiast who cemented his legacy with a 1996 state championship, starred at Keene State (N.H.)

During a four-year stay at Keene State, in the Little East, Corace evolved into one of the nation's top scoring threats in Division-III. As a sophomore, she went off for a six goal scoring barrage, en route to a wild 12-10 come-from-behind victory over Western Connecticut State. A knack for the transition game and a scent for ground balls made her an integral piece at midfield, where her established stick work paced a young core.

She scored 143 goals and kicked in 43 assists, helping the Owls to three conference championships and three NCAA tournament berths. At the culmination of a decorated collegiate career, Corace gained a roster spot on the USAAI team, featuring a crop of Division-III's elite across the country.

Corace was part of an ultra-deep 2008 Section 1 senior class which included Jesse Steinberg (Suffern/Cornell), Hannah Frey (Nanuet/Boston U), Cat Friscia (Hackley/Drexel), as well as Indians Ashley Carey (Stevens College) and Emily Rogers (SUNY Geneseo).

After serving as one of the key recruiters at Defiance College, where she was an assistant, Corace becomes of the nation's youngest head coaches.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sold On Brey's System, Ryan Chooses Notre Dame

Iona Prep's Matt Ryan emerged into one of the nation's most highly-coveted recruits this past season, despite shutting it down due to impingement with torn labrums on both sides.

 The 6-foot-7 kickout shooter decided on Notre Dame three days ago.  The Class of 2015 small forward had been weighing a handful of top-stratum, high-major suitors. Ryan whittled the list down to Notre Dame, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina, Stanford, and Creighton 

Consistent pursuit from head coach Mike Brey, along with the opportunity to play quality minutes from the jump, accelerated Ryan's decision. 

"The most influential factor in choosing Notre Dame was how long they've been recruiting me," Ryan said. 

"They came to my house and my school multiple times. There's a great opporunity to contribute right away, academics, the universal brand of Notre Dame, it's a family school and most importantly is the connection with coach (Mike) Brey." 

Brey, who offered Ryan after taking in two of his games in the same day last year, put the scholarship offer down before the rest. 

"I'll be a volume player in his system because (Brey) gives his shooters freedom and allows them to play through mistakes," said Ryan, who averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in eight games during the 2013-14 campaign. 

"I envision my role increasing from year to year, but I know I'll have to work very hard because of the competition in the new ACC."

Ryan was also sold on the chance to fill an immediate void. The Irish will bid adieu to several key shooters/scoring threats following 2015 graduation, necessitating Ryan's floor-spreading perimeter assault.

Academics held considerable weight in Ryan's decision. Ryan has a 3.8 GPA, earning no grade lower than a 92 the past semester.

Ryan, a deft shooter from deep, hopes to catalyze the perimeter game. 

 Notre Dame has churned out notable talent, underscored by program legends such as Luke Harangody, Kyle Maclarney, and Ben Hansbrough.

Ryan's upside is akin to Colin Falls, the legendary Notre Dame 3-point ace.

Ryan went under the knife this past spring.

Working with Manhattan-based arthroscopic hip surgeon Bryan Kelly, he feels rejuvenated and is slated to return to full strength in a month. Kelly performed the same surgery on former Providence and Kennedy Catholic star Donnie McGrath two years ago.

Ryan has already been back on the court, devising plans to create his shot off the dribble and carve his way to the rim more.

 As Ryan's stock and Division-I interest levitated last season, teams began face-guarding the 3-point grenade launcher. 

 After weighing his options, flirting with the notion of attending a high-caliber prep school such as Monteverde Academy (Fla.) or Huntington Prep (WV), The Cortlandt Manor native opted to return to one of 914's most prominent hoops factories.

The decision bodes well for Vic Quirolo, who has a budding Division-I point guard in Ty Jerome (Davidson, Creighton, George Washington, Columbia, and myriad others expressing considerable interest) and a Patriot League caliber recruit in well-built guard Tom Capuano of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Ryan will have an inside shot at winning Mr. Basketball. With his return, the Gaels return to the Catholic League championship conversation. 

Ryan said the Irish sustained their loyalty while he was on the shelf. The interest and pursuit never tailed off.

"It was known that Duke, UNC, and Michigan coaches were waiting to see me play in person and then were going to offer," Ryan said.

"But that was not going to be until a couple of months. I could have lost my opportunity at Notre Dame and other players could have ended up committing to those schools. Ultimately I decided to take a spot at a school I love and give the staff a great direction for the rest of the summer, to surround me with other great players." 

Transitioning To Point, Championship-Hungry Hughes Learning Leadership Role

Poughkeepsie Journal Photo

Revisiting the past season, Beacon's Elijah Hughes has difficulty pinpointing his most quality performances.

There is a 33-point explosion (on 12-for-18 FG) en route to a 70-57 win over Red Hook. He dealt out six assists, punctuating the buckets binge with a double-fisted banger.

There's a 25-point performance during a 78-59 win over Poughkeepsie, a foe known to extract extra ferocity from the bouncy 6-foot-5 guard. 

There's an uptick in pressure that Hughes vows to ramp up, adding muscle and working to splinter ball movement.

There's a 31-point eruption, on 12 of 21 shooting, en route to a 77-68 loss to RC Ketcham. There's a five-game closing stretch in which he averaged 21.8 points, shooting the rock at a 47 percent clip.

Yet what trumps all of this, Hughes' said, was an increased dose of self-assurance. 

"My freshman year, I lacked confidence a bit," said Hughes, readying himself for Syracuse Camp and an upcoming tournament in Atlantic City.

"I have a lot more confidence. It's really helped me not just basketball-wise, but to be who I am. I'm always in the gym working."

There's still ample space to get better and as an incoming junior, time certainly works in Hughes' favor.

Improving on his consistency helped bolster Hughes' scoring, as exemplified through the stretch run. Hughes attributes the change to an increased four quarters of focus and a natural distaste for losing.

"I was just trying to do everything to win, whether it was putting up 25 points or grabbing 10 boards or getting 10 assists, all I want is to win," he explained. "I'm just a competitor, I'll do whatever to win."

Cognizant that transferring to point guard will require him to commandeer the ball handling and spur Beacon's patented breakneck game and guard up on varying positions, Hughes relishes the challenge.

"When you're a point guard everybody is looking at you," Hughes said.

"At how you play, at how you conduct yourself. All eyes are on you. I've been working more at endurance. Becoming a perimeter defender, you need a lot of endurance. Especially being 6-foot-5 and an on-the-ball defender.  I'm going to have to take a leadership role, I have to carry my team. I'm going to have to lead my team in every way I can. These next two years, I have to be more vocal."

Since he was absorbing the game's niceties as a callow fourth grader, the role of quarterback had special appeal to him.

 An aerial game and nose for the net has developed. Hughes gained a 20-foot jumper and shouldered a bulk of the scoring load as a sophomore.

His father, Wayne Hughes, often fields phone calls from a variety of AAU coaches. All are eager to invite Elijah to an upcoming tournament or trying to extend an open roster spot.

Though his aim isn't to squelch hopes, Hughes readily responds with the same response. It's not a company line.

"He only wants to play with the same teammates he's been playing with since he was in fourth grade," said Hughes, citing 12-month team basketball as the primary priority.

Hughes has always leaned on deep jumper as his primary weapon. A newfound knack for freeing himself off the dribble and creating his shot via the bounce has rendered Hughes a more contagious scorer. 

Wayne Hughes has become somewhat of an avid preacher of extra-pass offense. He references the San Antonio Spurs 2014 NBA championship. That squad epitomized TEAM, Hughes rehydrates, pointing out the crisp ball movement and patience in settling for the right look.

"It's definitely a luxury and a plus to have guys I'm familiar with on my side," Elijah Hughes said. "Knowing their games, it helps us tremendously."

Recently, Hughes has been schooled on Beacon's basketball history. He's heard the stories of sharp-dishing guard Collin Powers, the son of Beacon head coach Tom Powers.

He's learned about deceptive high-scoring Roberto Macklin and the 2003 Sectional championship team, which upset Ron Headley-led Peekskill on Josh Fullterton's memorable buzzer-beating corner jumper.

Powers gave Macklin the floor during a pre-practice speech this past season.

One of the Section's prolific scoring leaders his senior season, Macklin's road to LIU-Post was realized after a stopover at Sullivan Community College.

Once indifferent to academics, the point Macklin stressed was simple: The power is in the pencils.

The centerpiece of a 20-5 squad, which advanced to the NYS/Class B Final Four, Macklin explained how an erratic classroom performance altered his path.

Hughes hopes to earn an additional education solving the tight rims of the Westchester County Center.

"Everyone's goal is to make it to the County Center and that's cool," the budding Division-I prospect explained.

"But it's really not complete unless you win the whole thing. That needs to be the goal, the Gold Ball."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cultivated By NBA Experience, CEO Creates New Path With AMstatz

Roughly 12 hours and 15 minutes from Michael Piermont's current Chicago Headquarters is East Rutherford, N.J.

It’s where Jason Kidd once floated up alley oops and unfurled surgical lobs to Kenyon Martin and sky-risers Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.

Kidd, under a microscope for his paper/power trail from Brooklyn to Milwaukee, resuscitated a left-for-dead New Jersey Nets franchise as a player.

Kidd’s embodiment of the quintessential NBA point guard role and an eclectic blend of set 3-pointers, drives, and flashy passes quarterbacked New Jersey’s hellfire, go-go transition game to NBA Finals berths in 2002 and 2003.

Those days have special resonance and sacred value with Piermont, of Morristown, N.J.

Now the Co-Founder and CEO of AmSTATZ.com, a fitness company akin to LinkedIn and GRUBHUB, Piermont watched this unrivaled epoch unfold before eager teenage eyes.

Serving as a ballboy for the Nets and Pacers, Piermont was schooled on the convolution of the NBA game, receiving an additional education on locker room etiquette.

His workaday function fluctuated. He served as a de facto player confidante while handling impromptu and unwritten tasks such as fetching girls’ numbers for players. 

The gig helped groom Piermont, who saved a considerable chunk of change while working for Norfax, an online health insurance shopping company, for AmSTATZ.

AmStatz’ sole purpose is to connect trainers with clientele, providing an online platform that allows for networking and professional collaboration.

“Our focus is to empower trainers to keep their clients in shape,” Piermont explained.

 “The goal is for the client to spend less time managing his business and more time focusing on his clients.”

 AmSTATZ aims to fortify the athlete-to-trainer connection, providing a trainee with a visualization of the workout. The trainees have access to the technology that gauges their production.

 AmSTATZ is a B2B2C company—its technology enhances the overall personal training experience, while simultaneously keeping the trainer’s brand fresh and innovative.

Piermont's stay with the Nets heightened during the summer of 2001. They had just finished a dreadful season, wallowing in the league's lower-percentile with slim prospects for revival. 

 It was after Martin, the team’s No.1 pick out of Cincinnati, suffered a broken leg. The Nets shipped then-leading scorer Stephon Marbury to Phoenix for Kidd, altering the perception of the ailing franchise.

 “That year during the NBA summer league, we just knew things were changing,” said Piermont.

“Kerry Kittles was healthy and (Kidd) arrived during training camp on a mission. That first day, he was on the floor diving for loose balls. We knew everything was only going up from that point on. My best memory is (New Jersey) beating the Pacers in triple overtime in the first round of the playoffs.”

Piermont watched with a bird’s eye gaze as Kidd thoroughly out-dueled 3-point assailant Reggie Miller. Tending to the arena and rebounding for everyone from Kevin Ollie to Michael Jordan in shoot arounds, Piermont relished those back-to-back Finals runs.

He enjoyed seeing Keith Van Horn counter the post game of Jermaine O’Neal, utilizing a funky slingshot of a deep jumper. 

Piermont was jolted out of his court-side sprawl when he watched Aaron Williams fly off the bench for stick-backs. Yet it was his relationship with the opponent’s staff which helped him solidify his future position.

 “I worked in the locker rooms (in Indiana),” Piermont said. 

“I was there in 2004 when we won 61 games. I was there during the “Brawl Year.”

 The Brawl Year, 2004-05, saw three of the team’s cornerstones earn hard suspensions following the infamous Malice At The Palice. During his stay in Indiana, Piermont befriended Shawn Windle.

Windle worked at Rutgers and UConn before becoming the Pacers’ head strength and conditioning coach and assistant athletic trainer. Piermont regards him as a major asset to the company and a loyal friend. 

Kidd’s golden boy image as a Team Guy is now shattered. A domestic violence charge, a DWI, and several shaky in-house decisions may have sullied his public image. 

Few could debate Kidd's legacy as a creative, Hall Of Fame play-maker who drove New Jersey out of turmoil and into uncharted heights. 

The recent power play allowed his history as a noted coach killer and to resurface. 

A naturally selfless player, known for bettering his teammates and getting everyone involved, Kidd's feuds with Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank paints a vastly different image. 

Still, Piermont harks back how the Hall of Fame point guard steered the Nets out of downtrodden, dungeon dwelling obscurity and into respectability.

Piermont said the company embodies the principles of an innate point guard. Emphasis is placed on sacrificing self-interest and surrendering individual desires for the value of the whole. He illustrated a team environment, most effective when everyone contributes at the same rate. 

A long ways from East Rutherford, Piermont hopes to mold AmSTATZ with the same leadership qualities and foresight. If everyone can buy in, Piermont said, a success story will surface. 

He won't have Martin to punch down loud dunks. He won't have Kittles to locate for 3-pointers. While he's got size in his fleet of trainers, few are as tall and wide as Todd McCullough. Still, the strategy appears strikingly similar to Kidd's 13 years ago. 

To learn more about AmSTATZ, please visit www.AmStatz.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Uno En Uno With: Nick Santavicca, Yorktown Football

ZS: What role do you envision on this year’s squad and what’s the preparation process been like?

NS: I am looking forward to being a focal point on offense and playing safety on defense. As for getting ready, I train five days a week. I’m running, lifting and working on ball skills. I train with Matt Deiana three days a week, two days at the high school.
ZS: With a senior-laden backfield last season, you had a lot of sources to guide you through the rookie campaign. What kind of principles did last year’s captains instill and how does it carry over into this season?
NS: Playing behind those guys last year and learning from them was an awesome experience for a sophomore.

Their work ethic and determination is what I have learned and gained from them. Being around Eric Meyreles all the time, on and off the field, was a learning experience. I hope have the same impact next year for incoming sophomores.
ZS: Beginning with the Panas game, when you got your first touches, up until the homecoming game (42-14 win) against Cameron Ciero-led Horace Greeley, you displayed flashes. Of course, the road that followed was rocky with a few injuries. What’s the recovery process been like and how has it affected you?
NS: Playing with a torn labrum last year was difficult, but that is the past. I am fully healthy and looking forward to this football season. I had my shoulder repaired and I was given a clean bill of health on May 19th to resume all activities and I have been working hard and haven't looked back since. It's in the rearview mirror now.
ZS: You hail from a football family that’s churned out a number of gamers. The Santavicca name is now synonymous with program history. Being a legacy, do you feel any pressure? What are the advantages?
NS: There is no pressure at all. From my Dad (Roger Santavicca) being a coach here, my uncle (Ron Santavccia) being a former head coach and winning two state titles for this program, both of my cousins (Paul and Anthony Santavicca) being great athletes, there has been nothing but support. When we sit and talk about football, everyone sort of chimes in and gives me pointers to help me on my path.
ZS: What’s the identity of this year’s squad?
NS: The identity of our team is family. Coach (Mike Rescingo) always puts emphasis on that.
We preach family because we all work for each other. We go out there and play for one another, it has never been about I.
We as a group are looking towards working and achieving a Section championship, which we have not done in a while. That is our ultimate goal and identity of this team.
ZS: What’s the smash-mouth mentality like entering the season, and how do you whet your appetite for destruction and desire for success?

NS: Going out and hitting someone is an everyday occurrence for me and that is all I think about. Being hungry is something that never leaves. You should never be satisfied, there is always something that you should strive for and never, ever give up. I hope to make every touch count for this season and especially for my team.

ZS: You guys made your money off speed last season. A blend of speed from the halfbacks and power/aggression from the fullbacks was visible throughout...Should we expect much of the same?
NS: You should expect the same from us and a little more (Ryan) Baker throwing the ball.

ZS: How do you describe your style and make-up as a back in this offense? What’s your most effective way of moving the ball up the field and sustaining the punishment?
NS: Speed, agility and power. I am not afraid to lower my shoulder but I must tell you, I enjoy leaving someone standing still with a move.
I think being low to the ground works to my advantage. It helps me get tough yards. But I’ll do whatever I need to do to get the job done.
ZS: How do you assess the schedule this season? Week II (Somers) seems like it’s going to have some extra juice, if I had to guess.

NS: The schedule for this season is similar to last years. Every game is most important to us, they are all going to be tough.
We will approach each game as a game we need to win. Week 2 is more special to me, personally because of Uncle Tony (Coach DeMatteo) and our relationship to one another.
As for us as a team, we will be prepared and ready for everything. This is something we all look forward to but of course, "Eastchester comes first."
ZS: Coach DeMatteo is actually your uncle?
NS: The Santaviccas and the DeMatteos are family.
ZS: Favorite place to eat in town?
NS: Would have to be Maria’s Pizza.
ZS: Favorite football movie?
NS: I would have to lean towards Friday Night Lights but Remember The Titans and Radio are great movies as well.
ZS: Funniest teammate?
NS: Would have to be Christian Farda.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memorable Monday: Dominique Jones

Meet Dominique Jones.
The most underrated, under-appreciated guard in the Big East last season, Jones operates offense for the South Florida Bulls. He may not be equated with the same star power as Big East poster boys such as Luke Harangody, Hasheem Thabeet, Scottie Reynolds, and myriad others in one of the nation’s ultra-potent conferences.

That’s just fine with him.

A bullish 6-foot-4 sophomore on the downtrodden, dungeon-dwelling Big East program that’s starving for a national glance, Jones has nary an ounce of worry about skyrocketing to stardom.

Not being mentioned in the same breath as other top-flight Big East guards has never taxed or tormented him.

Throughout Jones’ career, coaches learn that individual shine headlines and the personal desires (even the fact that he’s never cracked the All Big East teams, despite staunch numbers that validate his strong candidacy) are trounced by his attributes as a Team Guy.

Jones doesn’t keep tabs on his numbers or mentions in Big East forums, hound the Public Relations guy for stat sheets, or compare himself to other high volume scorers/playmaking guards who may be treated to more shine.

 The obscurity was never a concern. 

Not for Jones, he of the thick southern drawl and dieseled-up, tattoo-drenched arms.

He didn’t self-boast about establishing a new high-water mark when he hung 36 on Iona College. He was more content with scoring a non-conference victory to halt a two-game slide. At South Florida, pretty much any non-conference game has become a must-win, considering the strength of schedule in the Big East.

With a revived recruiting class featuring 6-11 JUCO transfer Jarrid Famous, an athletic five-man with quick feet and a baseline to baseline game, those strong enough to live through the turbulent times are banking on a revival. 

A polished scorer and JUCO Player of the Year at Westchester Community College (Valhalla, NY), Famous' towering presence helps emphasize the high-low attack. It will also take some of the pressure off Jones, a creator before his scoring heightened.


Jones was a veritable batman for the Bulls last season, leading the team in essential categories such as points (18.1), assists (3.9), and rebounds (5.6). Despite this, he was still unknown to the masses. The cream always rises to the top, except when your squad simply does not have the wherewithal to swim with the sharks of the deep Big East ocean.

Although it was never his intention, Jones proved time and time again that he can “get his.”

Jones shredded Bobby Huggins’ complex West Virginia defense to the tune of 35 points. He scored 29 points on a full menu of drives, pull-up jumpers, free throws, and transition leakouts and snared eight boards against Providence.

 Subscribing to the role of “iron man,” which requires he constantly eschew foul trouble, Jones rarely played under 32 minutes in a game this season.

“I just want to be the face of the organization. If you look at it, our team is progressing,” Jones says.
“I feel like we take steps back sometimes, but we have to keep pushing forward and get the best out of [next] season. Our goal is to just be prepared for the Big East tournament, get as many wins as we can. We need to keep getting better, set history, and just keep flowing.

“Our main thing is to just keep going, keep going, keep it going. If a team rips off a little run, we don’t want to let up. We want to be right there and respond with a little run.”

If the Bulls—who finally scored that upset they’ve been thirsting for with a shocking, 57-56 victory over Marquette back on February 6—improve next season, Jones will make a little run to the Big East First Team.

Jones starred at Lake Wales High, evolving into a First Team 4A all-state selection after averaging 21 points, 10 boards, and seven assists his senior year. The kid is Lake Wales through and through. He represents the school everywhere he goes.

When accidently asked if he played at a neighboring, rival high school, Jones served up a terse response: “Hell no!” He said.

"Lake Wales, bro. Lake Wales."


A year later, Jones has fled from the shadows. He announced his presence with a ferocious one-handed banger during Sunday's 75-68 victory over UCONN.

South Florida's expunging of the Huskies, plagued by debilitating patterns of inconsistency this season, puts the Bulls in a fight for the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 18 years.

Jones has once again led the way for USF (19-11, 9-9 Big East), which languished around the .500 mark before ripping off three of their last four in-conference games. The junior is averaging 21.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and nearly 4 dimes.

The high-motored Jones has created an inside-outside presence with Famous--who had been heavily pursued by Arizona and Seton Hall--and fellow big man Gus Gilchrist.

Famous, a mobile big who has developed a once-raw post game and scoring acumen, is averaging 11 points and 7.6 boards. Gilchrist is averaging 15 and six.