Some great news for USC basketball...Sadly, its going to be a while before we see this again.
Tim Floyd's final "gift" to USC basketball was getting DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson prepared for the NBA draft. Gibson was the one we all kept an eye on as he was projected to go late first to early second round. His going first to Chicago will get him some nice guaranteed money. Hackett was not drafted but that a surprise to no one...his departure now just seems a as someone who wanted out. He will head back to Italy to play there and back to a life style that seems more suited to him...I could not be more happy for him. sometime you just have to follow your heart.
DeRozan made a strong case for himself in not being a head case and being willing to learn and play defense.
But NBA teams loved his unselfishness, desire to play defense and his athleticism, which is expected to make him a possible star one day. He knew the Raptors were interested and believed they would select him after visiting the city during his team workout.
"Toronto showed a lot of interest and everything, so I tried to stay open-minded and everything and thought I might go before, or that it might wait till Toronto picked," he said. "But I really felt that they really wanted me and I'm glad that I went right to the Toronto Raptors."
He was also excited about the Raptors, even though they went 33-49 last year and did not make the playoffs.
"You know, I think I can fit in great," DeRozan said. "I can bring a lot to the team on both ends ... probably would be defense and offense, that's my thing; I try to bring and just get the team going again. Just try to do the little things that need to be done.
"I'm going to go and give my all on both ends, go out there and try to win every game and never slack a bit.
He also knows what he still needs to work on and that goes to his attitude. DeRozan is well grounded and is willing to be tutored in what he needs to learn to make him a top NBA player. His willingness to play and improve his defense will go a long way to helping a team immediately that had a less than stellar season last season.
Taj Gibson had to be pleased at where he went. Tim Floyd wanted him to stay an extra year but I think its pretty clear that with all the turmoil surrounding the program that it was time to go. I can't really blame him and his gamble paid off. He really wanted to go to Chicago so he got his wish. He gets to play with Derrick Rose and a big city like Chicago is similar to where he grew up in Brooklyn so it should be a comfortable transition. I really don't know enough about the Bulls to know what they need and how Taj fits in...I'm just happy that he went in the first round.
Hackett is heading to Italy to play for Benetton Treviso where Hackett signed a one-year contract. From what I have read the team plays in a pretty small venue and finished 4th in their league. I don't think Hackett was ever a serious prospect for the NBA. He is not a true PG and playing out of position may have hurt him. Sure, he would have jumped at the chance to play in the NBA but it just never seemed realistic.
I think this was the best move for all three and it to me it really wasn't a surprise with Gibson and Hackett...why deal with the coming storm when you don't have to.
With all three now on their repsective paths away from USC I think it is safe to say that we can officially close this chapter in the book on the Tim Floyd era. We still have the NCAA to deal with and once that comes down we will officially close the book on the whole thing.
We wish all three if them the best and for a long succesful career.