The Trojans look to turn around the program and make a case that they belong amongst the super 64. Last season, led by Chemezie Mezu, USC played in the NIT, but their current outlook on this season looks far beyond a consolation prize. They began last season on a controversial note as the FBI linked USC with paying high school recruits under the table and ultimately arrested Assistant Coach Tony Bland, who is soon to testify before a grand jury. The Trojans, however, with the help of Assistant Coach Mobley, have locked in key recruits in the class of 2019 through Southern California big men Onyenka Okongwu (Chino Hills) and Isaiah Mobley (Rancho Christian), so the future looks bright. Currently, USC’s shining gem is none other than Kevin Porter, Jr from Rainier Beach HS (Seattle), whom spent the summer bodying grown professional basketball players in the Drew League. J’raan Brooks of Garfield High School, another Seattle native, joins KP as another star freshman. Another intriguing player is Chuck O’Bannon, son of former UCLA star Charles O’Bannon. Trojans return big time scorer Bennie Boatwright and big man Nick Rakovecic.
Players To Watch
Kevin Porter, Jr- This freshman superstar is already being talked about in NBA mock drafts. Big 6’6” frame, crafty with the ball, can create his own shots at will, pull up, and finish with authority. Was ranked rather low by ESPN as a senior and snubbed from the major senior events (McDonald’s All American, Jordan Brand Classic, Etc.), but played in a scrimmage versus the USA Nike Hoop Summit on a team called the “Portland Generals” again the U18 USA team alongside Tres Tinkle and he was dominating the best players in the nation all week. Look for his name and expect to hear it often.
J’raan Brooks - The polished big man from Garfield looks to have an impact Hihi’s first year for the Trojans. Nicknamed the big fundamental, Brooks has an advanced game for his age, was ranked within the ESPN 100 last year for the Bulldogs, who were ranked top 25 the entire season and lost in the opening round of the Dick’s Sporting Good’s Nationals to Oak Hill Academy.
Bennie Boatwright - 6’10” big man for USC returns as captain, can score inside and outside, good three point stroke. Averaged about 13 and 6 for USC and looks to patrol the paint and help lead the Trojan’s young talent into stardom.
3 Key Non-conference games
November 19th vs Texas Tech - Southern California travels to Kansas City early in the season to battle the Red Raiders who had an elite eight run last season. Texas Tech has a few seniors leaving last season including NBA bound Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith but this should be a shootout.
December 1st vs Nevada - USC is pitted against a incredibly talented and experienced team in the Wolfpack, led by the Martin twins. As mentioned previously this team oozes of production and chemistry and can make a run at any given second.
December 7th vs TCU- Trojans play a tough TCU team that was ranked all last season in the top Big 12 conference. Jaylen Fisher returns this season after injury alongside Desmond Bane.