O'Neill keeps the staff intact, Donte Smith to probably stay at USC

ESPN's Andy Katz reported yesterday that Kevin O'Neill will keep Tim Floyd's assistant coaches for the 2009/10 season.

The only difference you'll see at USC as far as the coaching staff is concerned is Kevin O'Neill standing where Tim Floyd used to in front of the bench.

The coaches behind him will all be the same.

Although it's not official, O'Neill did confirm he is retaining assistants Phil Johnson, Gib Arnold and Bob Cantu.

That's a significant move, considering those three are largely responsible for securing a number of the top talents USC has recently had under Floyd.

"I feel comfortable with all of them," said O'Neill.

The USC situation is unique in that the Trojans hired a coach who wasn't coming directly from another program, so the transition from one staff to another should be rather seamless. Johnson and O'Neill have known each other for decades. They both coached under Lute Olson, albeit not at the same time.

You can probably look at it a couple of different ways. 1) there wasn't enough time for O'Neill to assemble his own staff or 2) he wanted to keep some continuity in place with the current team while also having the coaching staff be able to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.

I have seen it written in numerous places that O'Neill is a tireless recruiter. I would really like to know just what that means. What top recruits has O'Neill brought into the programs that he has coached. I am not really worried about O'Neill going after former commits that opted out of their LOI's. It would be nice to have them back but I think we are pretty much past that as it was announced that Derrick Williams will attend Arizona.

O'Neill has a tough road to hoe...He has to fight the perception that he is not a very warm person to be coach by. He has to prove that he has changed. He also is going to have a tough time getting kids to commit to USC if he cannot show them that he will be willing to open the offense up. Defense is a good thing but today's kids want to score...will this old dog learn some new tricks? Of course the other shoe has yet to drop in the form of the NCAA's investigation in regards to improper benefits given to OJ Mayo. That is O'Neill's other hurdle.

Speaking of players...Donte Smith will probably be returning to USC.

USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill said he expects point guard Donte Smith to return to the team next season.

Smith decided to transfer to Cal State San Bernardino after last season but remains enrolled at USC for summer classes. Former coach Tim Floyd made Smith stay in school this summer to make sure he left in good academic standing.

But O'Neill said the junior will be back, which is a boost to the Trojans' point-guard depth.

"I'm planning on him coming back," O'Neill said. "His intentions are to be back."

Well, at least we will have a point guard to start the season...No, I do not think that Romeo Miller is a viable option, no offense to Mr. Miller. I would be surprised if he is still on the team in the fall let alone taking up a scholarship on the roster but you never know.

Speaking of Derrick WIlliams...

I find it very odd that the AD would let Jones and Williams out of their LOI without some Pac-10 restrictions. I highly doubt that allowing players out of their LOI's while imposing restrictions will have any negative impact on the NCAA. So, fine SC punishes itself but will then get punished by the NCAA...it makes no sense and it just goes to show how screwed up things are in Heritage Hall. It is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Anyway, we move on...

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