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5 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball: USC Trojans Preview

Andy Enfield has a squad in Los Angeles that could be one of the biggest surprise teams in the land.

NCAA Basketball: Santa Clara at Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans

  • Head Coach: Andy Enfield (7th Season) | Overall: 110-93
  • Last Season: 16-17 (8-10) | Post-Season: None
  • Pac-12 Media Preseason Poll: 5th (198 Points - 1 First Place Vote)

Projected Starters

  • Daniel Utomi (Guard - RS Senior)
  • Jonah Mathews (Guard - Senior)
  • Isaiah Mobley (Forward - Freshman)
  • Onyeka Okongwu (Forward - Freshman)
  • Nick Rakocevic (Forward - Senior)

The Skinny

In 2013, Andy Enfield guided Florida Gulf Coast on their “Dunk City” run to the Sweet Sixteen.

The little known mid-major who was better heralded for it’s beach-side dorms and party atmosphere was arguably the most exciting college basketball team of the decade. They threw alley-oop dunks in transition, regardless of the score, and played with a passion that transformed their talent level.

And then Enfield left the Sunshine State for USC. And the magic somehow disappeared.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Enfield’s tenure in the City of Angels has been one described by most fans as ambivalent, as the Trojans have made two trips to the NCAA Tournament but overall, they haven’t been the must-watch outfit that Enfield encompassed as his trademark style.

It’s been a hard program to gauge and one that reaches a very puzzling crossroad heading into the 2019-2020 campaign.

The good news for Enfield is that the 2019-2020 campaign can be one of great promise in Los Angeles, as USC has assembled a roster that talent-wise should develop itself into one of the Top 25 teams in the land. However, it’s cohesion and chemistry will either be it’s moment of unprecedented success or it’s point of complete divide.

High School Basketball: Hoophall West Tournament-Chicago Simeon vs Rancho Christian
Isaiah Mobley could be a massive impact freshman for the Trojans.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Up-front, with thanks to an extremely gifted recruiting haul, the Trojans are unbelievably promising. Two five-star recruits in Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu both stand at over 6’ 8” and will take a ton of pressure of returning veteran Nick Rakocevic (14.7 PPG) to handle the every day load. Another four-star prospect, Max Agbonkpolo, has the size to play at the wing and against undersized fours, who gives the Trojans another body to throw into the mix.

Are they mostly unproven? Sure. But sometimes unproven at the college level can only mean that a wealth of development is sitting on the horizon.

Like most teams in the Pac-12, everything USC does will begin at the guard spots, where Enfield has an overflowing cupboard of options. Jonah Mathews (12.6 PPG) is an old reliable type of player who can play off-the-ball, alongside some crucial transfers in Daniel Utomi (Akron) and Quinton Adlesh (Columbia). Utomi could breakout into one of the team’s best overall pieces, while Adlesh is a sharpshooter who is reminiscent of the “x-factor” type of players that usually spurn a Sweet Sixteen type of squad.

Outside of them, Charles O’Bannon Jr., a former five-star recruit, is finally back on the court and healthy after a hand injury forced his 2018-2019 campaign to become a redshirt season. It’s important to also not forget about Elijah Weaver (5.1 PPG), another program mainstay.

And yet somehow, there’s still more at Enfield’s disposal, as the seventh year head coach has another trio of three-star recruits in Kyle Sturdivant, Ethan Anderson and Drake London to work with, the former two who are likely to see the court regularly with a special emphasis on Anderson. The 6’ 1” guard from California is a former Oregon State target who might morph into the best point guard option on this team.

Four Non-Conference Games To Watch

  • 11/16 at Nevada
  • 11/29 v. Davidson/Marquette* (ESPN Orlando Invitational)
  • 12/6 at TCU
  • 12/21 v. LSU* (Hall Of Fame Classic)