With a pair of guards already committed for 2009 in Shaun Noriega and Jordan Dumars, USF has shifted its sights to focus on a highly regarded central Florida post player to help round out its recruiting class. All signs point toward Stan Heath and his staff putting on a full-court press to sign Orlando Christian's Keith Clanton.
The 6-foot-7 power forward has already made two unofficial visits to campus and he said he plans to make his decision and sign during the early period in November, prior to the start of his senior season. Also in the running right now are Big East foes Marquette and Providence, along with in-state rivals Miami and UCF.
"I really like Coach Heath a lot. I like the school and the players there and I'd really like to play in the Big East," said Clanton, via phone from Philadelphia where he is attending the elite Reebok All-American Camp. "The coaches can see me fitting in real well (at USF). Coach Heath says I'd have a great chance to start as a freshman."
That may be the case no matter where Clanton lands. As a junior last season, Clanton finished fifth in Florida's Mr. Basketball voting. He was the Class 1A Player of the Year and a unanimous choice for Class 1A District 7 most valuable player.
Clanton led Orlando Christian to a 27-2 record and its first state championship. He averaged 21 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks, and saved his best for last. In the state semi-final, Clanton registered a triple-double, including 12 blocks. And in the championship game, he scored 23 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to take home MVP honors.
That campaign sent his recruiting into high gear, although Heath and the Bulls had been courting him since prior to his junior season. Clanton has also made unofficial visits to Miami and UCF, and said he plans to travel to his other two suitors before deciding.
"I just want to find the place that is the best fit for me; where I feel most comfortable" Clanton said when asked what his decision will come down to. "I'll narrow things down at the end of July."
It's a good bet USF will still be in the mix at that point, according to Clanton's mother, who confirmed that the family has been very impressed with what it has seen of USF and its coaching staff thus far. For now, however, Clanton will be on the road until July 16, making the camp rounds.
"It's an opportunity for me to show what I can do with all the other great players here," he said of the Reebok camp. "We just went through our meetings today and we'll start drills at 2:30 (Monday)."