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April 14, 2011

Heath praises new signees

USF basketball coach Stan Heath felt he and his staff addressed the team's needs well with the additions of his two new signees - guards Blake Nash and Anthony Collins, who join centers Andre Jackson and Jordan Omogbehin in the recruiting class.

Nash, a 6-foot, 185-pound combo guard who will have three years of eligibility after transferring from Williston State College in North Dakota, is expected to push for a starting position right away. He averaged 22.3 points and shot just over 42 percent on 3-pointers this past season, also averaging 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He could play shooting guard but he said he's being brought in primarily as a point guard.

"Blake is an outstanding leader from the point guard position, he really understands how to run a basketball team," USF assistant coach Jeremy Cox said in the statement. "Secondly, he's competitive. He's a guy that has played for quality teams in big games and he found ways to win. That was something we needed. He's a pass-first guy, but he can score the ball as two-thirds of his shots were threes."

Collins, who averaged 12 points, 8.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game (shot 60 percent from the field) during his senior season at Westbury Christian School in Houston, started all four years and led his team to two class 4A state championships and another title game appearance.

"Anthony Collins is a guy who can lead and run the team," USF assistant coach Reggie Hanson said in the statement of the 6-foot-1, 175-pound true point guard. "His basketball IQ is off the charts and he has amazing speed. In games, he's full speed ahead and he makes everyone around him better. He's a great passer and he creates shots for all of the other guys. He loves to defend and he understands winning. He's started all four years and he's won a lot of games. He's also a great kid and student."

Nash and Collins will compete with senior Anthony Crater and sophomore LaVonte Dority at point guard next season. Guards Mike Burwell and Shedrick Haynes are transferring from USF, opening up scholarships for Nash and Collins.

Heath also signed a pair of centers in November during the early signing period -- the 6-foot-11 Jackson, who will have two years of eligibility after transferring from junior college in Texas, and the 7-foot-3 Omogbehin, who will have all four years of eligibility with USF after going to prep school - to go along with 6-foot-8 forward Victor Rudd, an Arizona State transfer who is eligible this season after sitting out last season with USF due to NCAA transfer rules.

The Bulls expect to return Augustus Gilchrist, Ron Anderson, and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick in the post, while losing center Jarrid Famous to graduation.

"This may be our best recruiting class," Heath said. "We've addressed the areas we felt we needed to improve in, and in a big way. The guard play will be extremely strong next season with the addition of these two players [Nash and Collins] and Victor Rudd, who is also counted as a recruit in that class. He's a 6-foot-8 guard that can really score the basketball. Then we added two gigantic players who are going to give us a physical presence inside. Andre Jackson has the ability to score, rebound and take up space at 6-foot-10, 310 pounds. Then Jordan Omogbehin, at 7-3, 291 pounds, will have some work to do, but along with his size, his footwork and hands are very good, so I expect him to contribute as well."


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