For all those hoops nuts sprinkled across the country, today marks the beginning of the late signing period in college basketball, spanning until May 19, where teams are able to sign recruits to official letters of intent. It's an opportunity for teams such as Kentucky to replace draft eligible players with new superstar recruits in the hopes of maintaining their place atop the hierarchy of the college basketball world.
With much of the recruiting action occurring elsewhere, Kevin O'Neill's USC program was expected to remain rather quiet over the next month, as the Trojans' four recruits for the class of 2010, Bryce Jones, Maurice Jones, Garrett Jackson and Curtis Washington, had already signed during the early period during November. But according to Scott Wolf, it appears as if O'Neill and company will in fact be somewhat active.
That is because 7-foot Antelope Valley College center DeWayne Dedmon is expected to sign a scholarship agreement with USC sometime today or later this week. But before you get carried away and start typing "USC to the FInal Four," try and keep a few things in perspective.
For those expecting Dedmon to make an immediate impact next season, don't bank on it. The Lancaster native will not enroll at 'SC until January of 2011, and as a result, he will redshirt next season in order to preserve the three remaining years of eligibility he has.
But even when he does eventually step on the Galen Center court, Dedmon remains somewhat of an enigma. That is because the Trojans newest seven footer did not start playing organized basketball until his senior year of high school in December of 2007 due to the fact that he was raised a Jehovah's Witness, which precluded him from participating in athletics.
As a result, it'd be a bit of an understatement to say that Dedmon is a little raw.
But, because of his size and potential, some scouts feel that he could eventually be taken number one overall in the NBA Draft, he earned the opportunity to play at Antelope Valley College these past two seasons under the tutelage of Dieter Horton, who now happens to be an assistant under Kevin O'Neill.
Dedmon, who enrolled at AVC in the fall of 2008, greyshirted during his first season on campus as a way for the coaching staff to ease his development and preserve his eligibility in the junior college ranks. But for a player with little to experience playing the sport, he has developed rather quickly. From WeAreSC.com:
"The weird thing about him is that he has no bad habits," Horton said. "Because he came in with no habits at all. All of his tendencies are things we taught him to do. Everything we taught him stuck like glue. He didn't know how to shoot the ball when he got here. Now, his shot looks almost perfect because it's exactly what we taught him."
Horton said that during Dedmon's year spent learning the game, the coaching staff would be routinely floored as they'd explain concepts and formations to Dedmon and five minutes later he'd be jumping into practice and performing them better than the players who'd been learning them for years.
"His upside is mind-blowing," Horton said. "He has unbelievable feet. He has a 7-6 wingspan and his hands are massive. We can do whatever we want with the kid - bring him to the high post or put him on the block. He runs the floor like a deer and is unbelievably athletic. And he can hit the 15-16 foot jumpshot. And defensively, he'll block shots with his left and right hand."
In his first season playing for the Marauders in 2010, Dedmon left a positive impression on many scouts and coaches, averaging 6.52 points, 7.42 rebounds, and 1.95 blocks per game. While those aren't necessarily the type of numbers that will blow you away, it's nonetheless a significant step up for a guy with little to no experience with the sport as a whole.
With Alex Stepheson graduating in 2011, the Trojans will need a fellow big man to complement Nikola Vucevic in 2012 provided Kid Euro even sticks around around that long. So, could Dedmon fill that role?
It's very likely.
Last season, Stepheson never provided much of an offensive surge to begin with, and generally was only an asset on the defensive end of the floor, which leans more on athleticism than developed basketball skills, which are more suited toward the offensive side of things. In turn, Dedmon's skill set seems to suggest that he's capable of fulfilling at least that role.
So while it would certainly be premature to start projecting Dedmon's NBA Draft stock, there is no question that 'SC's newest seven footer should be able to fill in for the departing Alex Stepheson in 2012 and serve as an excellent complement to Vucevic.