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Time to look toward next season

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  • Time to look toward next season

    While Trojans are still feeling the sadness of the sudden loss, but also the exhilaration of arguably USC's best season in five decades, the coaches have already leapt right into personnel issues for next season. Let's take a look at the prospects for next season.

    First Up, what happens to the regular rotational players:

    Evan Mobley: Evan is going to the NBA and will sign a HUGE contract. Thanks for everything Evan, congratulations, and best of luck for hopefully a very long pro career. Fight On!

    Tahj Eaddy: Tahj had just a magnificent season. Probably the best one-season career for a Trojan guard since OJ Mayo. I saw "one season career," because Tahj will turn 25 this summer and by all accounts will not use his extra year of eligibility at the college level. So, while every Trojan should welcome Tahj back with the biggest of open arms, I don't see that happening. UPDATE: Tahj has announced he will move on. Fight On!

    Isaiah Mobley: Isaiah turned what had been a bit of an up and down sophomore campaign -- his analytics had always been strong, but for 14 games in the middle of the Pac-12 season from January 16 to regular season finale against UCLA, Isaiah only reached double figures in scoring twice -- into a breakout run through the NCAA Tournament, where Isaiah averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block per game, while shooting 61% from the field, 55% from behind the arc and 89% from the free throw line. The performance was strong enough to warrant some NBA Draft scuttlebutt. I fully expect Isaiah to test NBA Draft waters. That being said, Isaiah's prospects for being drafted are low right now; he is a marginal Top 100 prospects on the leading media draft boards; and there are reasons to think Isaiah may have a breakout season next year if he returns. That all being said, I have no idea whether Isaiah will be back or not. But, and take it for what it's worth, it does not appear Enfield is targeting any bigs on the transfer market.

    Isaiah White: What a tremendous season by the gritty Isaiah. Just a great, mature, hard-nosed hoopster. Trojan fans should be clamoring for his return. Will that happen? Isaiah graduated Damien high school in 2016; so next year will be his 6th season post high school. He's an adult and it's unclear if he wants to run another year at the college level. UPDATE: Isaiah is expected to return next season.

    Chevez Goodwin: Of this season's trio of grad transfers, Chevez is the most likely to return for next season. Chevez is a bit undersized as a Pac-12 level 5-man, but teaming him with Isaiah as the stretch-5 would likely produce good results on the offense end. Until the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, Chevez was absolutely killing it from an offensive efficiency perspective, hitting 25 of his last 33 FGAs. UPDATE: Chevez announced on Instagram that he is coming back for one last season.

    Drew Peterson: Everyone expects Drew to be back and to be a leader of the team next season. After going through a mid-season slump, Drew averaged over 11 points, 2 assists and 5 1/2 rebounds per game over the final eleven games of the season. Drew shot 42.4% from three during that stretch. If he can extend that shooting to next season, he could have a really big year.

    Ethan Anderson: Ethan struggled with his weigh and recovering from a back injury all season. Clearly, the lockdown was not good for his game. After returning to play in mid January, Ethan played 21 games; unfortunately, he only played well in about five of those 21 games. He really needs to rededicate himself to basketball in the offseason if he wants to be a serious contributor going forward.

    Noah Baumann: Noah had his moments and hit some big shots. Unfortunately, his efficiency from behind the arc (35% for the season) didn't compensate for the defensive mismatches he faced and very low rebounding rate when he was on the court. Noah may be better off at the mid major level, rather than in the Pac-12. UPDATE: Noah has entered the transfer portal.

    Max Agbonkpolo: Progress for Max was slow and uneven. For the reason, his reliance on 3-point attempts and low shooting percentage from behind the arc resulted in a FG% of only 36%. For a player of Max's size, that's inexcusable. On the other end of the court, however, Max was able to disrupt things and get his hands on lots of balls. The bottom line for Max is that it appears he needs to take basketball A LOT more seriously. He has a lot of God-given gifts that are not being exploited for his benefit. Enfield has invested a lot in Max. Next season that investment has to start yielding returns.
    Last edited by Chase (Gone from NYC); 04-12-2021, 09:49 AM.

  • #2
    Great post as always, Chase. Interesting point about Enfield not going after any bigs on the transfer market. You would assume that he would have more insight into Isaiah's plans than any player he's ever had, considering he employs Isaiah's father. While it's clear Isaiah isn't an NBA caliber prospect at this point, his brother is getting ready to sign a multimillion dollar contract and move to some random NBA city in a few months and you have to assume there will be some family going with him. Have you heard any talk of Eric Mobley leaving after this year? If he stays I think it's a slam dunk Isaiah does as well. Either way, Isaiah will be a featured player if he returns and can only boost his currently minimal draft stock by doing so.

    Agree with you on all the evals. Max and Ethan are facing enormous off-seasons. Truly time to put up or shut up for both.


    • #3
      Picking up with non-rotation players:

      Boubacar Coulibaly: Boubacar was CLEARLY the biggest surprise among the newcomers this season. A very late edition to the Class of 2020, and frankly not all that highly ranked in high school, few seemed to expect much from Boubacar there was a lot of talk on him being another Victor or Henderson type recruit. But Boubacar posted some excellent numbers and showed real athleticism in limited minutes. He still needs to work on his hands and ball security, but there are reasons to think Boubacar will be a serious contributor in the future for USC.

      Joshua Morgan: Morgan was perhaps the biggest "get" for SC from the transfer market. Morgan was the Big West Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman at Long Beach State, averaging 2.5 blocks and 6.5 rebounds in 26 minutes per game. He chose SC over transfer offers from Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and San Diego State. Morgan was expected to sit out this season before the NCAA granted all transfer immediately eligibility along with a free season. But once eligible, Morgan didn't look good. He appeared uncoordinated and unsure of himself on the court. His hands were a major liability and he struggled with his footwork. As impressive as Boubacar was, Morgan was the opposite.

      Reese Waters: Reese entered college early in late December, after gaining eligibility. The book is still very open on him. Unfortunately, he wasn't ready to play and entered right as conference play was starting, offering limited minutes to get adjusted to the college game. As the season wore on, the game seemed to slow down for him, but Reese still seemed to struggle in the defensive half court and in breaking down defenders when he had the ball.

      The bottom line is that these three need to step up big time for next season.

      Up next will be a look at the committed/signed newcomers....


      • #4
        Excellent stuff Chase, you say it like I see it. Iā€™m just not so good at writing it out.

        Looking forward to next write up.


        • #5
          Before delving into the transfer market, USC already has four players either signed or committed for next season. Here's a brief look at each of them:

          Harrison Hornery: HH is a stretch-4 from Australia who plays for Mater Dei. He is a Top 200 prospect with an excellent stroke from behind the arc. He lacks the athleticism of a typical elite high major big; so it's a bit unclear how he'll stack up at the Pac-12 level. Unless SC has some unexpected personnel losses in the front court, I would not expect to see a lot from him in the upcoming season.

          Kobe Johnson: The brother of Duke blue chipper, Jalen Johnson, Kobe is kind of a point-wing who, while lacking the raw athleticism of his brother, has developed a nice offensive skillset from the perimeter. The downside here is that Kobe plays a very low level of competition in high school and will have a giant leap coming at the Pac-12 level. Not sure how he'll handle that.


          Malik Thomas: Malik is the one Top 100 high school recruit left signed with USC for the Class of 2021. Malik is a well-built shooting guard who can drain from outside and finish strong inside. He's not super long, but he has nice up and can really slash. Malik is back playing at Damien for the delayed CIF basketball season.

          Kealen "KJ" Allen: By now, most USC hoops fans have seen KJ on Last Chance U Basketball on Netlfix. KJ is a strong, bouncy, undersized 4 in the mold of Hank Gathers or Larry Johnson. The mild-mannered KJ is a big hit on the show; and has clearly demonstrated himself to be a high major level talent. I was a bit worried earlier this winter when it looked like KJ had put on some bad weight during the pandemic. But recent Instagram uploads have shown KJ to be back in excellent shape. KJ still hasn't officially been accepted by admissions to USC yet. Update: The academic demands of USC may in the end be a bridge too far for KJ.

          Last edited by Chase (Gone from NYC); 04-13-2021, 03:48 PM.


          • #6
            Next up, the transfer portal ....


            • #7
              The transfer portal is about as dynamic as it gets right now. The list of players who SC may be interesting is quite literally changing by the minute. I'll cover some of the bigger names first, starting with out of region kids, and then continuing with kids who have some kind of SoCal connection.

              Out of Region Kids:

              Chris Lykes, 5'7" SR PG, Miami (Fl.): The Isiaiah Thomas -like Lykes missed this season due to a foot injury; he has listed Arkansas and USC as his final two. However, it does not appear USC is seriously involved with Lykes. UPDATE: Lykes, as expected, commits to Arkansas.

              Joseph Yesufu, 6' SO CG, Drake: Yesufu was basically the only Drake player who could make a dent against the SC defense. After the game, I commented to friends that, if SC had Yesufu, it might make the Final Four. Now Yesufu is in the transfer portal and USC is heavily involved. Other schools mentioned are Arizona State, Kansas, Minnesota, Washington State, Georgia, Texas, Nebraska and Wisconsin. UPDATE: Yesufu has committed to Kansas.

              Kids with a Connection to SoCal:

              Boogie Ellis, 6'1" SO CG, Memphis: Boogie was a huge recruit for SC a couple years back from Mission Bay HS, who ultimately signed with Duke, obtained a release, and then signed with Memphis over (apparently) Oregon. Boogie has had an up and down career at Memphis, shining in the NIT Title Game, but struggling in other games this season. SC is involved, but there are quite a few red flags here. UPDATE: Boogie Ellis has committed to USC.

              Timmy Allen, 6'5" JU G/W, Utah: Timmy is a Compton Magic alum who grew up in the Phoenix area. SC showed some interest in him out of HS, but probably not nearly enough, as Timmy signed with Utah. Unlike Ellis, Timmy's years in college have been consistent and strong. He earned All-Conference while scoring 17+ points per game each of the last two seasons. The knock on Timmy is that he's a poor outside shooter with a funny release; and that's true on both counts. But he's a strong ball handler, who can not only handle the point, but can score amongst the bigs down low. Timmy shot nearly 50% on 2-point FGAs this season. A bit of a wrinkle on this one is that Timmy's brother, Teddy, who had a big year for Minnesota this past season, is also in the transfer portal.

              Matt Bradley, 6'3" JU SG, Cal: Somewhat similar to Timmy Allen, Matt Bradley was a kid with a local connection who SC probably could have signed if it focused more on him, and then went on to be an immediate success in college. In the case of Bradley, however, SC never even offered, despite SC being a dream school for him. Also like Allen, Bradley has a reputation as a hard-nosed player who will get dirty on the boards. Bradley doesn't have the wonderful scoring touch around the rim that Allen has, but he is a good shooter from beyond the arc. Bradley has already scored nearly 1,300 points in college, while maintaining an eFG% consistently and comfortably above 50%, all while playing for a really bad team. There is talk that SC is involved here, despite the possibility of some resentment from Bradley. UPDATE: Matt Bradley has committed to San Diego State.

              Devin Askew, 6'2" FR CG, Kentucky: Like Johnny Juzang, Askew left high school early for an opportunity in Lexington; and, also like Juzang, Askew is leaving after his one season playing for the Cats. Immediately after entering the transfer portal, there were rumors that Askew was considering Duke, Louisville and Tennessee. Those have apparently been debunked, but it's not clear at all that Askew is looking to return to the west coast. If he was, he'd be an interesting prospect, but he's not necessarily the type of proven commodity that Allen, Bradley, and Yesufu are.

              Ian Martinez, 6'2" FR SG, Utah: For a variety of reasons, Ian Martinez is probably the biggest prize from this list. By the end of this past season, he had become one of the top guards in the conference, averaging 10 points and 1 1/2 steals per game, while shooting 67% from 3, over his final 6 games. SC simply couldn't guard him (until he fouled out) in the Pac-12 Tournament. The big question on Ian is whether his father, Henry, will demand to be put on the staff, as a condition to getting Ian.
              Last edited by Chase (Gone from NYC); 04-13-2021, 07:57 AM.


              • #8
                Of this motley crew of transfers, who Ideally would you like to see as a Trojan Chase? Especially considering we only have 2-3 scholarships remaining?

                Who do you think is leaning toward SC or likely to come?

                And if we got a lot of transfer attention is it reasonable that we may revoke scholarships from existing players or is that not possible/a really bad look?

                Thanks for a lil the info!!!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Trojan2021 View Post
                  Of this motley crew of transfers, who Ideally would you like to see as a Trojan Chase? Especially considering we only have 2-3 scholarships remaining?

                  Who do you think is leaning toward SC or likely to come?

                  And if we got a lot of transfer attention is it reasonable that we may revoke scholarships from existing players or is that not possible/a really bad look?

                  Thanks for a lil the info!!!
                  My No. 1 would be Ian Martinez. After that, probably Joseph Yesufu and Timmy Allen.

                  But I have no idea how realistic this is.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hoss View Post
                    Agree with you on all the evals. Max and Ethan are facing enormous off-seasons. Truly time to put up or shut up for both.
                    Evals are great, Chase!

                    I couldn't agree more. Max is such a great kid, but many of our lowest moments this season had Max contributing little and making head-scratching turnovers, or missing the rim completely on most of his 76.2% off-target 3pt shots. Despite a handful of difference-making games, the same goes for Ethan, but he does bring toughness. Ethan's outside set shot also improved significantly. Here's hoping they both improve tremendously this offseason. Other than literally his length, I don't consider Max a "plus" defender. This perspective isn't popular with many on the new board, but when I evaluate Max's defense, I see weaknesses in his footwork, anticipatory skills and ability to stay in front of his opponent. I will admit it got better the last month or so when CAE had started limiting his minutes, but we were also employing more zone down the stretch.

                    I'm not expecting either to make huge leaps forward after watching them both for 2 full seasons, but I'm hopeful. In a perfect world, we would have 3 open spots, get two good back court players, and a wing from the portal and grad-transfer market. I'll take two and be thrilled, but can you imagine getting THREE of the kids on Chase's list?

                    We can dream, can't we?

                    Last edited by SC MOJO; 04-07-2021, 12:11 PM.


                    • #11
                      There is no question that Max is not a plus man-to-man defender. However, as a team defender, I think he's strong.


                      • #12
                        With Boogie Ellis and Matt Bradley off the board, the focus for USC turns to Ian Martinez, Timmy Allen and Devin Askew, with Seattle U's Darrion Trammell being an interesting name in the mix.