Predicting South Florida basketball’s 2021-22 starting lineup, rotation


It has been an offseason unlike any other for Brian Gregory and the South Florida men’s basketball program. The current roster bears very little resemblance to the roster that lost to No. 1 seed Wichita State in the quarterfinal round of the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Seniors Justin Brown and David Collins were expected departures, as was redshirt junior Alexis Yetna. That trio was joined in moving on by Madut Akec, Xavier Castañeda, Michael Durr and Rashun Williams. Luke Anderson entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in February.

The Bulls suddenly had eight roster spots to fill and fill those spots they did. Between March 26 and May 14 USF added seven Division I transfers and one JuCo transfer. The Bulls signed a high school prospect in November.

The newcomers join three returning scholarship players. The team is on campus and began workouts this week.

With only one returning starter and so many newcomers BullsInsider.com takes a stab at who we think will likely start for USF this season as well as who is likely to be primary factors off the bench.

Point Guard

South Florida Bulls guard Caleb Murphy (23) drives to the basket against Virginia Tech Hokies forward Justyn Mutts (25) and forward Keve Aluma (22) in the second half at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Pic by: David Butler II – USA TODAY Sports)

STARTER: Caleb Murphy

Murphy was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team. He started in 18 of the 21 games in which he appeared in last season and averaged 23.8 minutes per game. Murphy ranked fifth on the team with 8.3 points per game and scored in double figures in eight games. He does need to improve his perimeter shooting but we have received reports that ha happened.

Reserves

Freshman Trey Moss will definitely get some playing time in his first year, but he has the benefit of waiting his turn behind Murphy while he gets acclimated. If combo guard Serrel Smith Jr. is eligible this upcoming season, he could see also some time on the ball.

Shooting Guard

Javon Greene (23) drives to the basket as Davidson Wildcats forward Sam Mennenga (3) defends in the first half of a quarterfinal in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament at Robins Center. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Starter: Javon Greene

A fifth year combo guard, Greene made 35.3 percent of his three-pointers and 46.0 percent of his two-pointers in his junior and senior seasons at George Mason. His Kenpom.com ORtg was higher than both Murphy and David Collins last season. Greene should bring a level of efficiency to the USF backcourt that USF fans have not seen in years.

Reserves

If combo guard Serrel Smith Jr. is eligible this upcoming season, he could be the next option at shooting guard. Murphy could slide over to this position if Gregory decides to play Moss and Murphy together, similar to when Castañeda and Murphy were on the floor at the same time.

Small Forward

South Florida Bulls wing Jamir Chaplin (24) blocks Cincinnati Bearcats center Chris Vogt’s shot (33) at the rim during the second half at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati. (Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Starter: Jamir Chaplin

Over his two seasons with the Bulls, Chaplin’s production may not have not given off obvious indications that he is ready to be a starter. However, during the 2020-21 season, Chaplin’s average of 12.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per 40 minutes played is impressive. He will be needed to come into his own but we think the SF/Wing spot is Chaplin’s until it isn’t.

Reserves

Gregory has lots of options here. We think D.J. Patrick’s size, length – a reported 7-foot wingspan – athleticism and shooting ability will make him difficult to keep off the floor. Jake Boggs could fit in here as could Sam Hines Jr. Corey Walker Jr. could figure in heavily.

Power Forward

Jalyn McCreary (4) dunks over Texas A&M Aggies guard Hayden Hefner (2) in the first half at Colonial Life Arena. (Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)

Power Forward

Starter: Jalyn McCreary

After waiting his turn for two seasons at South Carolina, McCreary started what would be his final game for the Gamecocks scoring 15 points and blocking three shots. He has experience and has looked good in spurts – mostly when he gets going due to extended playing time. His per 40 minutes average last season was 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Reserves

Bayron Matos could get starter minutes here and Corey Walker Jr. might see playing time here as well. Boggs must get stronger but he has stretch-four skills.

Center

South Florida Bulls center Russel Tchewa (54) attempts a hook shot during the second half as multiple UCF defenders look on in the Yuengling Center. (BullsInsider.com)

Starter: Russel Tchewa

Not much to say here other than Tchewa should grab a stranglehold on the position during summer workouts and will get a chance to improve upon a sophomore campaign that he showed flashes of what kind of player he can be. But Tchewa must work at it every day and learn to avoid cheap fouls.

Reserves

Matos played quite a bit of his minutes at the five for New Mexico. Also, if Tchewa is not ready for prime time he might be the reserve center to McCreary.



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