We continue the recruit and return series with the USC Trojans, who did not make the NCAA tournament. A look at what the 2018-19 season could hold.
Possible 2018-19 starting five
G/F: Shaqquan Aaron
G/F: Jordan Usher
Who is lost: Guards Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart are out of eligibility and forwards Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu are strong candidates to declare for the draft. Those four players averaged the most minutes for the Trojans in 2017-18 and were their top four scorers.
Who is added: The Trojans have a pair of ESPN 100 players committed for next season: PG Elijah Weaver and SF Kevin Porter. Both figure to have a shot at moving right into the starting lineup considering the losses, but the same was said about Charles O’Bannon Jr. at this time last year. O’Bannon came in as a five-star recruit, but earned just 70 minutes of playing time as a true freshman. In fact, none of the three freshmen USC signed last year started a game this season. Weaver, at 6-foot-5, has good size and is a natural scorer, while Porter, a lefty, will arrive as the top-ranked player from the state of Washington.
What it means for next season: If Boatwright and Metu do, in fact, leave for the draft, the Trojans will be expected to take a significant step back. If one, or both, return they should again be in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid. More notably, however, is coach Andy Enfield’s status at USC after the season began with his assistant coach, Tony Bland, being arrested as a result of the FBI’s investigation into corruption into college basketball. At USC, which has had serious compliance issues in the past, there is no longer much patience for these types of problems — especially in basketball, which still fails to move the needle from an attendance standpoint despite improved play during Enfield’s tenure. The fallout from Bland’s arrest already includes the decommittment of Taeshon Cherry, who would have been one of USC’s most highly regarded recruits in history.
Trending: Neutral. USC has gone from 12th to seventh to fifth to second in the Pac-12 under Enfield, but after heightened expectations in recent years, the Trojans, at best, seem to be leveling off.