It's that time of year again...
With USC's basketball season officially over the inevitable question of who stays and who goes are already being asked.This is always tricky, players like Mayo and DeRozan are pretty much guaranteed pretty big paydays while players like Davon Jefferson make the jump and fall terribly short of their goal. DFWTrojan has a good write up about it in the FanPosts.
That's how it is in college hoops today...its tough to keep top talent on the roster but to me the bigger problem isn't so much the talent, Tim Floyd is doing a pretty good job of recruiting solid players, but the effect of the revolving door of talent can take its toll. I am a big team chemistry kind of guy and players jumping in and out of the program make it more difficult for a team to gel.
USC didn't look as if it was going anywhere this season, except maybe the NIT, until a five-game winning streak took the Trojans from the middle of the Pac to their first conference tournament championship. Then came an upset win over Boston College in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"This season, we learned how to be a team," junior guard Daniel Hackett said. "We learned how to be united no matter what people are saying outside. I'm proud of the way some guys responded. As far as [the Michigan State] game, we should be proud of the way we played."
Now the question is, can they keep it going? The Trojans could return all five starters and have new talent available. But on the Internet, mock NBA drafts indicate the potential for plenty of turnover.
DeMar DeRozan could be USC's third one-and-done freshman in two seasons, joining O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson from last season. DeRozan, who elevated his game the last three weeks, is projected as a high first-round pick.
Hackett and forward Taj Gibson are projected as second-round picks. Hackett is the team's point guard and Gibson led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding.
All three players said they would make decisions after consulting with their families and Floyd. Hackett seems to be the hardest to replace, as the Trojans are lacking point guards and recruited none for next season. Mike Gerrity transferred from North Carolina Charlotte -- having transferred there from Pepperdine -- but he won't be eligible until midseason.
I have already noted that I think Taj Gibson's time at USC is done. He has pretty much built his game as far as he can and based on some of his comments after the BC game he feels he redeemed himself from last years 1st round exit against Kansas State, to me thats pretty strong sign that its time for him to go.
DeRozan did nothing if he didn't launch his NBA stock late in the season. He clearly became the darling of the pundits with his performance in the Pac-10 Tournament and what we witnessed is what we knew was always there...it just took a little bit of time for it to blossom.
Daniel Hackett is the enigma...some see him as a possible 2nd round pick while many others think that he has no chance at making the NBA, at least for this season, and that he would probably end up playing in Europe. Hard to tell but I really don't think that he leaving, he isn't taking up a scholarship spot and he isn't paying for his education so why leave when you can be the unquestioned leader of the team as a senior.
I am also not going to delude myself into thinking that SC is now going to dominate the Pac-10 year in and year out. If everyone stays they have an excellent chance at winning the Pac-10 next season because of their experience but the numbers are going to be a problem. Foster points out in his piece that Tim Floyd has to be pretty sure he is losing some players too, with 12 players on scholarship and with 5 incoming commits somethings gotta give. Miller will off of scholarship and the inevitable transfer or academic casualty will probably raise its ugly head so one can never know how it will work out. My only problem is that to me its hard to build a core when top talent leaves year in and year out.
Floyd understands that as well...
"You know, we're a team that has talent and it's young talent," Floyd said. "Maybe that's the nature of college basketball today. But if there is some way we can keep them together and add what we have coming back next year, we've got a chance to be, you know, a special team.
"But we could have said that last year with O.J. (Mayo) and Davon (Jefferson) coming with this group, and could have said it the year before with Nick (Young) and Gabe (Pruitt) coming back with O.J. and Daniel (Hackett) and Dwight (Lewis) and Taj.
"But that's the nature of the college game right now. And hopefully these young guys will return and we will improve as a basketball team."
I think that is wishful thinking...who wouldn't loved seeing Mayo and Jefferson on this team? Who wouldn't love to DeRozan and Taj play with this incoming class? I was actually more disappointed that Jefferson left than I was Mayo because Mayo leaving was a foregone conclusion...in the end its a big "what if".
It would be great to everyone return but that is hioghly unlikely so I am fully prepared to see a totally different team next season...its the nature of the beast