Last week the USF Dons men’s basketball team released the list of signed recruits for next season. The Dons were able to sign five recruits: centers Perris Blackwell, Tomas Bruha and Moustapha Diarra, forward Nikol Stojiljkovic and point guard Michael Williams. With these signings the Dons have bolstered their front-line, which was one of their weaknesses last year.
Blackwell, who is a decorated prep player from Etiwanda High School in Etiwanda, Calif., will immediately help the Dons because of his size and scoring ability. The 6-foot-7-inch center averaged 15.1 points per game as a senior, 9.2 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks per game. Blackwell is rated as an 85 by ESPN.com, which means that he is a solid prospect for a mid major school. Signing him was a huge step in the rebuilding process for the Dons because it shows that coach Rex Walters and his staff are able to select highly rated recruits.
Joining Blackwell along the front line will be Tomas Bruha and Moustapha Diarra. Both players are from Europe; Bruha is from the Czech Republic and played on their U-20 national team, while Diarra is from France but competed at Sheridan junior college in Wyoming. Although Bruha is from the Czech Republic he played for the Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain where he averaged 12.5 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game and 2.3 blocks per game. Bruha is a 7-foot, 225-pound center that adds much needed size along the Dons front-line and he is also the 81st ranked center according to ESPN.com with an overall rating of 78.
Diarra also has the size the Dons were lacking last year, as he is a 6-foot-10-inch, 235-pound center who sometimes plays the power forward position. Last year Diarra led Sheridan JC to the Region IX North Championship with a 22-6 record, while also earning 2009 NJCAA All-American honors. Diarra averaged 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game last year, while also capturing his second straight All-Region IX Defensive Player of the Year honors. With his size and shot blocking ability, Diarra will help strengthen the Dons’ defense, especially around the rim. He should compete for playing time right away because of his rebounding, defense and ability to run the floor.
Along with Diarra, fellow Frenchman Nikola Stojiljkovic will join the Dons next year. Stojiljkovic is the typical European big man who shoots the three-pointer very well despite his size. Stojiljkovic stands at 6 feet 8 inches and weighs 210 pounds, but he plays primarily along the perimeter. He is an excellent shoot, especially along the three-point line. As well as being a great shooter, Stojiljkovic is a good ball handler and passer for his size. Because of the skills he possesses, Stojiljkovic is able to play many different positions. He will be a great asset to the Dons because of his shooting and play making ability, areas they were lacking in last year. Stojiljkovic is rated at a 79 by ESPN.com and is the 168th ranked power forward.
The final recruit the Dons signed is Michael Williams out of William H. Taft High School in Winnetka, Calif. Michael Williams is a 6-foot combo guard with an excellent jump shot from the three-point range. Last season he shot .450 percent from the three-point arc. Williams has the potential to be the play-making point guard the Dons need. He should come in right away and contribute by making three-point shots. With Williams and Stojiljkovic, the Dons will be able to space the floor better, while playing the inside-out game through Dior Lowhorn.
In his first full season on recruiting at USF, Coach Walters has done an excellent job of getting talented players. Walters and his staff were able to improve upon all the Dons’ weak spots from last year. With these recruits and the addition of Rashad Green, who sat out last year because of transfer rules, the Dons should be a much-improved team. The team looks talented, and with good play and coaching all season, the Dons should be a lot more competitive in the WCC. Maybe we’ll even win a game in the WCC tournament.