July 09, 2011

Gilles, Griffin, Groza (golly!)

I began the day arguing the day camp merits of new skirts vs. old Gymboree shorts with my six-year-old. I'll end the day soon debating the merits of pomegranate margaritas vs. Long Island Iced Teas. In between, I was rippin' and runnin' so much -- from the Non-Gilded Panthers to a Southern States bodybuilder who once weighed 450 pounds and almost died to Brandon Marshall's subpeona -- that I didn't get to update this blog with a couple of pieces of news.

Gilles Dierickx, the 6-11 Belgian out of West Hills Chaminade in the LA area, made his committment to FIU official. There's one scholarship left for the 2011 class.

Isiah Thomas said in a statement released through the communications department, "His size and athleticism are impressive. He is the type of player who is not afraid to be aggressive down low both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. At 6-11, 240, we are happy to have Gilles as a member of the FIU family. He joins a great class in Joey De La Rosa (6-11, 240), KeDorian Sullivan (6-7, 185) and Tanner Wozniak (6-5, 185)."

Two 6-11 guys and two guys who are have either fast metabolism or a slow first step to the buffet...moving right along...

Kicker Jack Griffin has been named to the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, given to the top placekicker each year.

Once again, there's a college football best-of award that's an homage to an NFL great. As mentioned in the previous post, few wideouts in NFL history match up to Fred Biletnikoff. But as a college football receiver, Biletnikoff might not have even been the best productive slow wide receiver of the 1960s (see "future Dolphin Howard Twilley"). And, as for all-time, the only way he'd be at a table with, say, Michigan's Anthony Carter or Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers is if he was serving something.

Lou "The Toe" Groza picked up his nickname as a dependable booter for Cleveland and actually didn't like being known more for being a kicker than an offensive tackle. He played for Cleveland during their All-American Football Conferenc years, 1946-49. When the four-time AAFC champions moved to the NFL in 1950 along with the 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts, Groza added dependable kicking to the Browns' awesome offensive arsenal. He led the NFL in field goals four times in the Browns' first five NFL seasons. He retired after the 1967 season. Groza went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

Yet, that's pro football. Surely the Orange Bowl Committee, which gives out The Toe, could've honored one of the truly spectactular college kickers. Just in the old Southwest Conference from 1976-78, you had three kickers breaking records and collecting All-America honors -- Texas A&M's barefoot Tony Franklin, who nailed a then-record 65-yarder; Texas' Russell Erxleben, who beat his pal with a 67-yarder; and Arkansas' Steve Little, who tied Erxleben's record. A few years later in the Big Ten, Minnesota's Chip Lohmiller and Indiana's Pete Stoyanovich expanded the definition of "field goal range" to "on campus." Nevada's Marty Zendajas was money in his day.

Over on the court, the best college basketball player doesn't receive The Red Auerbach Award.

As it's Friday...


And while freshman Isiah Thomas endured his first Bob Knight practices at Indiana...


Still makes me wince...just like this one still makes me smile. Reminds me of the 1987 night they kicked against each other in the Metrodome. During the game, Baby Jessica got pulled from the well. 60,000 people roared for the saving of a child they didn't know existed two weeks before.


July 06, 2011

B-ball man bounces from the EU to LA to FIU

I spent yesterday supervising the re-installation of our hi-def dish and scrambling on about three other non-FIU stories, so I missed the late morning LA Times blog post spotted by Prowl poster J, saying 6-11 center Gilles Dierickx had received a 2011 scholarship offer from FIU and was expected to commit.

I just got confirmation this morning that they received the verbal commitment late Tuesday night. Dierickx, a native of Belgium, is out of West Hills Chaminade in the LA area and was ranked No. 19 among California recruits by MaxPreps.com. He averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game for a 14-15 team.

Here's some video on Gilles...


And another video for women and men of a certain age and all who beat the alarm clock...



July 01, 2011

More on Ivan the Terribly Early

After writing on NBA lockout mess, consuming an entire aluminum container of shrimp fried rice from New Chinatown and noting Warren Sapp and Darnell Dockett both were hanging out in South Beach, I conked out Thursday night like a 1982 Chrysler K-Car. I meant to give more information on Boca Raton Grandview Prep guard Ivan Canete, who has verbally committed to FIU for 2013.

It's not as if we've got a full IMF dossier on the kid, but here are a few tidbits:

Born in Cuba

Spent his freshman year at West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman

His defensive length, at 6-3, gives other high school guards trouble.

Oh, and SourceHoops.com's Rick Staudt loves the kid. Here's what Staudt had to say about him off of March's Hoops Mountain Tipoff jamboree: 

“Smart” and “Skilled” are the words that first come out of scouts’ mouths when talking about Canete.  He sees the game a play ahead, makes the right pass instead of the fancy one, and if need be can create his own shot.  Canete has range out to the arc and throws catchable passes to open teammates for scores when he breaks down the defense off the dribble.

And, this, from April, off the Disney Spring Classic:

The Boca Raton Grandview Prep product can play either guard spot equally well.  At the point, he has very good court vision and his height allows him to see over most defenders.  Canete handles and passes the ball well and understands when to push the pace and when to back off.  Off the ball, he can knock down open jumpers or create on the drive.  Defensively he works hard but does need to add strength which should come in time.

So, there you go. Enjoy your July 4 weekend. And, remember, the relative who winds up in the emergency room with only six fingers or toes because the others went shooting off with the fireworks he just knew everything about setting off? Not Captain Role Model.

Say "Hey" to Uncle Gus for me.

-- David J. Neal

June 30, 2011

Ivan comes to Isiah

Got the wife off to jury duty, the kid off to camp, hit the Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries (two bowls), dishwasher going, now down to business.

While I was scouring for the "Give Me the Night" video for my post on the swimming and diving recruiting class, the men's basketball team's scouring for talent paid off with a 2013 verbal commitment from Ivan Canete, a 6-3 point guard out of Boca Raton Grandview Prep. Canete's on MaxPreps.com's 2013 Players to Watch and has been designated by the site as a Top Underclassman. He averaged 12.1 points, 4.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks and 7.9 rebounds per game last season for Grandview's 27-3 team. 

While they're still trying to pull in kids for 2012, Isiah Thomas' staff has picked up what appears to be an early flower for 2013. To paraphrase Carl the assistant greenskeeper, "So they got that going for them. Which is nice."

I'll have more about Mr. Canete later. 


May 19, 2011

KeDorian Sullivan becomes third recruit to sign with FIU

If all goes to plan, FIU basketball essentially wrapped up its 2011 recruiting effort this week when Memphis-based KeDorian Sullivan signed a letter of intent with the Golden Panthers.

Sullivan, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound swingman from Southwind (Tenn.) High School, becomes the third high school player to ink with FIU.

Darnell Harris, a small forward from Christian Life Center Academy (Texas), is expected to snap up the Panthers’ fourth and final scholarship should he qualify academically.

In the heavily-publicized world of college recruiting, Sullivan is a relative unknown.

Last summer, SlamOnline.com wrote of Sullivan: “[He] might not be a big name nationally, but his high motor, slashing ability, finishing skills, activity on the boards, tough D and ability to excel in transition might change his low-key status as a recruit in the near future.”

May 03, 2011

It's official: De La Rosa formally a Golden Panther

As we first reported, Joey De La Rosa signed his letter of intent last week to join Isiah Thomas' FIU squad this fall.

Now, we get word that his LOI has been processed and approved, meaning his formally a Golden Panther.

The Panthers have at least two more scholarship spots to fill during the NCAA's spring signing period, which runs until May 18.

April 15, 2011

Tanner Wozniak signs with FIU

Keswick Christian (St. Petersberg, FL) PG/SG Tanner Wozniak signed with FIU Friday morning. Wozniak, listed at 6-4, 185LB, plans on coming down to Miami sometime in the summer. Wozniak, a fourth-team Parade All American selection, averaged 31 points a game his senior year and participated in the CBS/Maxpreps 3-point contest in Houston.

Wozniak points to coach Thomas as one of the main reasons for picking FIU.

"[Thomas] knows basketball a lot," he said. "He’s going to help me get to the next level."

Signing class update

Joe de la Rosa, C, 6-210, 200LB, Montverde Academy, FL - STAUS UNKNOWN

Monteverde Academy's Joe de la Rosa still has not signed with FIU, according to Monteverde assistant coach Alton Clark. Clark said he could not comment further on where de la Rosa stood in the process.

Still waiting on official word from FIU on this year's signing class. From what I've been told, FIU should have a press release sometime next week. No date has been set.


Thanks to the Wozniak family for the pictures.



April 13, 2011

NSD | No official word expected from FIU today

As the first day of basketball signing day is coming to an end, there is still no official word from FIU on who has signed letters of intent to play under Coach Isiah Thomas. From what I heard from the University yesterday, FIU is waiting for all the players to sign before they release the names. Under NCAA rules, FIU is not allowed to comment on potential recruits until they have received the players signed national letter of intent.


March 31, 2011

FIU recruit Wozniak named to Parade All-America Basketball Team

Sharp-shooter Tanner Wozniak -- the FIU recruit who will compete in this weekend's CBS/Maxpreps 3-point contest in Houston -- has been named fourth-team All-American in Parade's prestigious annual list.

Wozniak, a Keswick Christian senior who averaged 32 points per game as a senior, is one of just two Florida players recognized by Parade.

The other: Winter Park's Austin Rivers, the Duke-bound guard considered the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011.

February 09, 2011

Recruiting: men's basketball part 2

Recruiting notebook, odds and ends from a busy day chasing basketball players.

rivals.com interviews

I had a chance to do a quick interview with rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi about FIU and the work Isiah Thomas has done since coming to the school.

"Clearly [Thomas] is making a stir at Florida International. There are a lot of mixed opinions with Isiah Thomas. People probably wouldn’t notice Florida International if it was not for Thomas. They would have never gotten [Dominique] Ferguson if it wasn’t for him," Bossi said.

"I tell you this, I worked in this business since 2000 and since Isiah got there, there has been way more talk about FIU in the last two years than there was in the last 10 years," he added.

I also asked him about freshman Phillip Taylor

"Phil isn’t the biggest guy around but he’s a kid that has played against some of the top players in the country and has held his own. He’s not afraid to shoot it. He adds an element of confidence at the point guard position," Bossi said.

Scouting report for Darnell Harris

I also spoke with rivals.com national basketball analyst Jerry Meyer. Meyer gave me a scoting report on Harris.

"[Harris] is a tall shooter. He has length and he has pretty deep range out to 25 feet. That’s the strength of his game. Not really a slasher/ball handler type, more of a shoot over you type," Meyer said.

I also asked about the level Harris' commitment to FIU

"As far as I know, I haven’t heard anything different," Meyer said. "I don’t know if he has signed yet. From what I know his commitment is solid."

Scouting report for Chris Coleman

"Real big guy, space eater, barely skilled but more than that, he’s just a huge physical precense," Meyer said. "He's a big guy. Both these guys got looks from high majors. Good gets for a Sun Belt school."

I also asked Meyer if some of that buzz around FIU and Isiah has died down some since Thomas first came to FIU?

"Maybe a little bit of that allure is gone. Isiah Thomas is still Isiah Thomas and that is going to get the attention of the recruits," Meyer said. "There was a buzz. Now it's fair to say that some of that buzz has gone away. FIU has to win. That’s only going to help recruiting. It’s a lot easier to recruit when you win. Isiah has recruited at a higher level and has gotten some nice players."

Chasing down basketball recruits this afternoon.

I had a chance to talk with Yvan Ngirabakunzi's coach at the Piney Woods school in Mississippi. Coach Lemuel Jones said he has not had a chance to talk with FIU coach Isiah Thomas since the season began and that he is not sure where Ngirabakunzi stands in the recruiting process. Jones basically said he is waiting for the season to be over to sit with Ngirabakunzi to talk about where he could possibly end up at.

Jones described Ngirabakunzi has a four who has the "chance to be pretty good."

From what I gather, Piney Woods has a chance at a state championship this season and Jones is not trying to distract his players. Jones stopped short of saying if Ngirabakunzi has been offered a scholarship by FIU or any other school for that matter.

Still waiting to hear back from Christian Life Academy in Texas.

New Additions

FIUScout.com added three more potential players to the mix

SG Austin Keel, Winter Springs, FL, interest medium

PF Jonathan Holton, Coral Gables, signed with Rhode Island

SG Curtis Davis, Woodrow Wilson, TX, interest medium

According to his former coach at LaSalle Tony Reguiera, Holton is not considering FIU and has already committed to Rhode Island.


February 08, 2011

Recruiting: men's basketball

I was looking over the different recruiting sites to see what is being reported about FIU. All three sites (ESPN, Scout and Rivals) are in disagreement on who has and has not verbally committed to coach Isiah Thomas. Recruiting is going to start heating up as it gets closer to signing day in early April. Just like with football, much of what is being talked about in the media is more speculation than truth.

From what I can tell you from football signing day last week, the services really do not pay as much attention to the Sun Belt as the other conferences and some of the information can be inaccurate.

ESPN lists four verbal commitments for FIU:

PF, Darnell Harris, Christian Life, 6-8, 210, TX, grade 91.

C, Chris Coleman, Christian Life, 6-10, 270, TX, grade 88

C, Joe de la Rosa, Montverde Aca., 6-10, 200, FL, grade 88

C, Yvan Ngirabakunzi, The Piney Woods, 6-9, 205, MS, grade 82

Plus one possible commitment

PF, Vince Van Nes, Northfield-Mt. Hermon, 6-11, 235, MA, grade 82


Lists only Coleman and Harris has the only two verbal commitments.


Lists only Harris.


FIU is definitely lacking size this season and could only benefit from having PF Harris and a legitimate center come in. FIU has 14 guards on the roster, with half graduating this year. That includes starting point guard Phil Gary, Alex Legion and Marvin Roberts. At the moment, the Panthers have needed Eric Frederick to carry the load inside. In 23 games played, Frederick has a team-high 6.6 rebounds and 13.3 points a game.

Both Phil Taylor and Dominique Ferguson are freshmen. FIU will need to build around them, along with Frederick, who is returning to play his senior season. FIU will also have the benefit of having leading scorer DeJuan Wright for another year. Put that together with another strong recruiting class and FIU should be a contender in the SBC next season.

This year might not be totally wasted just yet. I have a feeling FIU could make a run in the conference tournament but with how erratic they have played late in games, I am not sure how far they could go.


January 14, 2011

Montverde assistant: De La Rosa a 'true center'

Just got off the phone with Montverde assistant AD/basketball coach Alton Clark, who gave the GPP a scouting report of FIU hoops' latest recruit, Joey De La Rosa. Hoping to talk to the recruit himself this afternoon.

Here’s Clark:

"This is his first year with us. He’s originally from the Bronx. A 6-11 center, really skilled, a traditional post player. In today’s game, it’s hard to find true centers anymore. You can put him on the block, likes to bang down low, use the jump-hook. I think FIU is getting a really good player.

"Joey provides a lot of energy. He’s from the East Coast. They play a different brand of basketball than everyone else. Physical, without being out of control. I think [FIU] did a really good job of communicating with Joey, how he will fit into the offense, fit into the offense. I think they did a really good job of nailing him down.

"He had interest from Big East schools like St. John’s and Georgetown. He had offers from FIU, Manhattan, UCF. FAU showed some interest too."

More on De La Rosa commitment

For some reason, neither by Joey De La Rosa story -- nor our recap of FIU's 87-77 loss in North Texas, for that matter -- made its way onto our website, so here ya go ...


It might be the peak of football recruiting season, but FIU basketball was busy as well Thursday, locking down a commitment from one of the best centers in Florida.

Joey De La Rosa, a 6-foot-10 post player from Montverde Academy near Orlando, decided this week to play for the Golden Panthers, the Miami Herald has learned.

De La Rosa is a two-star recruit according to ESPN.com, which lists the Bronx native the 39th-best center nationally.

FIU coaches and staff are prohibited by the NCAA from commenting on any potential recruits until they sign a letter of intent. Basketball’s spring signing period begins April 13.

De La Rosa, who reportedly had offers from several Big East schools, including St. John’s, becomes the fourth high schooler verbally committed to enroll FIU this fall. He joins forward Darnell Harris and centers Chris Coleman and Yvan Ngirabakunzi – all of whom are 6-8 or taller.

UPDATE: Ah, found it buried.

November 16, 2010

Early signing period ends Wednesday

Still no word from FIU hoops if any of the program's recruits will sign letters of intent during the early period, but all indications are this will be a relatively quiet period -- likely by choice.

Should Wednesday's deadline pass with few or no signed commitments, it's not necessary a cause for concern. The Panthers, who with a slew of seniors and now Phil Taylor's scholarship to fill, might be holding their fire until the spring signing period, so they give themselves every opportunity to go after the top prospects.

We'll know for certain as of close of business tomorrow. Names to keep an eye on: Darnell Harris, Chris Coleman and Yvan Ngirabakunzi -- all of whom have made verbal commitments to FIU.

November 15, 2010

FIU recruit Taylor enrolls in prep school

Point guard Phil Taylor, who had signed to play with FIU this fall but was deemed ineligible by the NCAA, withdrew his commitment to the Panthers and has enrolled at CJEOTO prep school in New Jersey.

FIU head coach Isiah Thomas confirmed Taylor's status following FIU's 69-54 win over Barry Saturday night, although he declined to comment on the situation in accordance to NCAA rules.

Talyor is on CJEOTO's active roster, and will likely re-enter the pool of eligible collegiate players next fall.

November 13, 2010

No word yet on early signings

A little hoops news (or non-news, as the case may be) as we await kickoff for FIU-Troy.

Midway through the early-signing period, it doesn't sound like any of FIU's commits have yet to put pen to paper.

FIU's athletic department has yet to announce any signings since the weeklong early period began on Wednesday.

Those to keep an eye on: small forward Darnell Harris and center Chris Coleman -- both of Christian Life Center Academy (Texas) -- and Piney Woods School (Miss.) big-man Yvan Ngirabakunzi.

The Panthers, who rolled past Florida Memorial 89-73 in their opener Friday, face Barry on Monday.

November 10, 2010

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

More of than not, it's been the latter with me -- and that's going to change.

I'm embracing social media like Cam Newton embraces shady advisors. I'm all over it.

If I come across something in the world of Isiah Thomas, FIU, the Sun Belt or college athletics on the whole that interests me, I'm gonna share it.

Feel free to follow me @AdamHBeasley. You won't regret it.

If you do follow me, you’ve seen insightful Tweets like …

No word yet on any early signings for #FIU basketball, but the week is still young.

FIU's Wow Stat of the Week. Trojans are 88-11-1 at home under Blakeney, including 17-1-1 in homecoming games. http://tinyurl.com/2btsam7

#FIU OC Satterfield on late INT vs ULM: if done over again, 'we would have ran the ball and kicked it.'

… in just the last 12 hours. So c’mon, join in. Everybody’s doing it.

November 05, 2010

Isiah Thomas wants local recruits

Here's a writeup from Thursday's men's basketball media day, but one note that didn't make the paper:

Isiah Thomas' Hall of Fame credentials and dogged salesmanship has made FIU a viable option for talented recruits from across the nation, like transfers Eric Frederick and DeJuan Wright and freshman Richaud Pack.

Yet Thomas hasn't had the same success convincing the Sunshine State's best to consider the school.

"For so long, they looked at FIU as a place not to come to, in terms of the basketball program," Thomas said. "We'd like to have some success here locally to also go along with what we're doing nationally."

October 04, 2010

McAfee: I'm going to Auburn

Just two weeks after committing to FIU -- before quickly backing out -- Memphis Melrose guard Cedrick McAfee has agreed to attend Auburn, according to the Commercial Appeal.

McAfee, an ESPNU top 100 player, committed to Auburn after visiting the school over the weekend.

"I think they got a steal," Melrose coach Jermaine Johnson told the Commercial Appeal. "He likes their style of play. Coach (Tony) Barbee runs the triple-drive motion (offense) and Cedrick is an attacker."

McAfee's switch leaves FIU coach Isiah Thomas with three recruits from the class of 2011: forward Darnell Harris -- another top 100 talent -- and centers Chris Coleman and Yvan Ngirabakunzi.

The Golden Panthers, who open practice on Oct. 15, have seven seniors on roster, giving Thomas plenty of roster spots to fill.

June 28, 2010

Talking w/ Chris Coleman

Had a chance to catch up with Chris Coleman and his Christian Life Academy high school coach CarlosColeman Wilson on Monday afternoon -- one day after the No. 10 center in the nation said he will become an FIU Panther.

Here's what the gentlemen had to say....

PP: Chris, what made you decide on joining FIU in 2011?

CC: I wanted to get coached by someone that knows the game. Plus, I loved the school when I went down there. I liked that if you graduate from FIU, because of its international ties, you can basically get a job anywhere in the world. And you can't beat the weather in Miami.

PP: When did you first meet coach Thomas and as a 17-year-old how much did you know about his Hall of Fame career?

CC: I met him last summer and he is great. I've known about what he did on the basketball court for a while, because of my grandma. My grandma loves coach Thomas. She's from Chicago, like coach, and she is a big It Detroit Pistons fan. And my mom and coach Thomas went to the same high school also in Chicago.

PP: Coach Wilson tell me a little about Chris's game.

CW: Chris is a true center that can beat you with his back to the basket or by putting the ball on the floor. He's a multi-faceted big guy. He's going to cause big problems at the five spot for FIU opponents. Chris averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks last year. He shot 52% from the field and 64% from the free throw line. He has to be a better free throw shooter.

PP: Chris, it seems like you pretty much have a complete game. But what about the free throw shooting? Do you feel that it's the thing you have to improve on the most?

CC: I thought I did all right at the line last season, but I would love to improve that 64%. I'm going to get fouled a lot down there and I'm going to be at the line a lot. A lot of big guys like Dwight Howard and Shaq have trouble with the free throw. It's just a matter of concentration and focus.

PP: Do you have any ritual you go through at the line to help you out?

CC: Yeah, I think of a song when I shoot free throws. I'm thinking "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne. I like the song andLil it helps me relax.

PP: Coach, how was FIU's recruitment of Chris?

CW: FIU got in on Chris really early and they were consistent and persistent. They did a masterful job.

PP: Chris, are you done growing at 6-10 and how do you feel about the 249 pounds you are carrying right now?

CC: I'm hoping I can get to 6-11 or 7 feet. I come from a big family. My dad is 6-4 and my mom is 5-9. I feel good at 249, but I'm going to add some muscle and get bigger. I love the weight room.

PP: Chris, do you know any of the highly-regarded recruits that FIU is chasing or any of the top players that FIU has signed?

CC: I played with Dominique Ferguson last summer in Detroit. We liked how we fed off each other on the court. We played well together. I really don't know any of the other players. But I think we can get some more top players to come down and play with us at FIU.



Aaapaw Along with the continued recruitment of Rakeem Christmas, the Panthers are pursuing Josiah Turner (No. 4 point guard in the nation). JT will have to decide among: Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, USC, Cal and FIU.

Word is RC is down to four schools: FIU, Oklahoma, Texas and Georgetown. FIU is also after Coral Gables High 6-8 power forward Jonathan Holton -- a 1st team All-Miami Dade player last season.


blkpanther: So Pete this makes two commitments for the 2011 season? Yvan Ngirabakunzi, Chris Coleman.

PP: Yes, so far.

Max: Any news on our schedule for this season? Shouldn't it be released soon?

PP: Opener is at home against Florida Memorial. Big non-conference home game is vs. Florida State. There won't be any 24-day road trip for FIU like last December. Schedule should be out by mid-August.

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