Dispatch from Galen: A Two-Sport Athlete, Summer League, and Other Notes

via latimesblogs.latimes.com

Despite being just over one week removed from the NCAA's sanctioning of the USC athletic department, today was a good day to be a Trojan, especially if you happen to keep note on the dealings of the basketball program. That is because Kevin O'Neill and his staff solicited the first committment from a player for the class of 2012 - 6'7" forward Arik Armstead, the younger brother of current defensive end Armond Armstead, according to sources at USCFootball.com.

Amstead, who hails from Elk Grove, California, is a two-sport athlete who also happens to be a highly-rated defensive line recruit, and as a result, he will play both sports at USC. While he will attend USC on a football scholarship for it his football abilities that draw most of the attention, it was O'Neill who made sure that Armstead became a Trojan in the end. Per WeAreSC.com:

Though Lane Kiffin and the Trojan football team will likely see the bigger morale boost from one of the top California linemen in the class of 2012 stemming the flow of recent negative publicity by pledging his commitment, it was Kevin O'Neill and the USC basketball program that had the biggest say in it happening at this point in time.

"It was about getting to know Coach O'Neill and the basketball coaches," Armstead said of why he committed now. "I'm going to be a two-sport athlete."

And once O'Neill was in on Armstead, the big man pulled the trigger.

"I'm excited," Armstead said. "I'm ready to keep working and getting better. When I get there, I want to play as a freshman."

In combining the recruiting efforts of both O'Neill and Lane Kiffin, it's tough to imagine any dual-sport athlete landing anywhere else. There's no doubt that these are two of the premier recruiting coaches in all of collegiate athletics. I guess this is what happens when both of them try to reel in the same prospect.

And while most players end up at USC strictly because of the school's success on the gridiron, it's refreshing to see the hoops program play a role in the recruitment of such a high-caliber prospect. Per The Sacramento Bee:

Arik attended a showcase basketball camp on Friday at USC. Guss said USC coach Kevin O'Neill "was really, really impressed" and made the invitation to join the basketball program after watching him play.

With the ability to play two sports, it was all but a guarantee that he would end up a Trojan.

"It was about getting to know Coach O'Neill and the basketball coaches," Armstead said of why he committed now. "I'm going to be a two-sport athlete."

The more big bodies K.O. can bring in, the better it is for everybody involved. More bigs means more rebounds and a tougher interior defense, which often translates to more victories. If you need an example of this, just watch a replay of Game 7 between the Lakers and Celtics. LA controlled the glass and the paint, and as a result, has a parade scheduled for Monday. It's as simple as that.

In other news regarding the future of the hoops program, signees DeWayne Dedmon, Aaron Fuller, and Bryce Jones, all particpated in the Nike SayNo Classic Summer League tournament held this afternoon in Hawthorne, California. Playing for a team called Salvatori's Squad, coached by former 'SC basketball walk-on Chris Penrose, the trio earned a victory over a group of Gib Arnold's Hawaii recruits despite looking rather rusty according to Pedro Moura of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

It was the first time the trio had suited up for the same team, and it showed. Particularly in the early-going, the three Trojans' signees were largely outshined on their own team by UC Riverside guard/forward Kyle Austin, who spent a season at USC before transferring. But each USC player managed to put their own skillsets on display as the game went on.

Fuller, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward who decided to transfer from Iowa last month, frequently used his bruising style of play to post up Team Aloha defenders. He also showed a smooth stroke from within 18 or so feet in warmups.

Jones - who couldn't get his shot to fall consistently - was perhaps the fastest non-point guard on the court, often serving as a distributor to Austin from the perimeter. And the ever-raw Dedmon ran the court with alacrity and battled for rebounds, although his 7-foot, 225-pound frame was outfought on more than one occasion.

With the game moving at a frenetic, playground-style pace, Austin dominated both the game and the ball, leaving few shots for Fuller and even fewer for Dedmon. But the 6-foot-5, 175-pound Jones found open looks at the hoop multiple times, only to come up empty on most of his tries.

Jones' athleticism - and development over the next few months - will be key for the 2010 squad. In March, he said he planned to feverishly work out over the summer in order to enter into college with a more Division-I-type body. He seems to have started on that process, although he is still able to be pushed around on the boards.

Fuller's frame reminds some of Elton Brand - the 76ers forward listed at 6-foot-9, 254 pounds but widely believed to be closer to the 6-foot-7 mark - and he uses it well, boxing out efficiently on most plays. He notably recorded 7.6 rebounds per game in Big Ten conference play a season ago.

Dedmon looked particularly slender. Even as the tallest man on the court, he was far from the most intimidating defensively. He did amass an early block but was silent on the defensive end later on.

It would have been a little more refreshing to hear that Jones was shooting the ball proficiently from the perimeter, considering that he will be replacing all-Pac-10 guard Dwight Lewis next season. Lewis led the team in scoring a year ago with 13.8 points per game, yet many anticipate that the highly-regarded Jones will be able to fill his shoes with little to no difficulty at all.

Those expectations may be a bit high, as Jones is a different type of player than Lewis. Generally, he's more of a slasher, known for his ability to get to the rim. On the flip side, Lewis was more comfortable shooting from 3-point land or curling of screens for 17-footers.

Often, shooting is a skill that comes over time and goes hand-in-hand with hours logged hoisting up jump shots in a hot gym over the long summer months. Remember, the season doesn't tip off with until November. As a result, I wouldn't take Jones's performance in June as any serious indication as to how he'll performance this winter.

Speaking of Jones's predecessor at the two-guard sport, Lewis, it appears as if the Louisiana native is on cusp of being selected in the late 2nd round of Thursday's NBA Draft. Granted, there are only two rounds, and thus, making the odds tough, but he is getting some looks from some teams. So far, he has worked out for his hometown New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks, but it is Mark Cuban's team that seems to be giving him the most serious look, even as a possible undrafted free agent. Per ESPNDallas.com:

Jermaine Beal from Vanderbilt and Dwight Lewis from USC also worked out with several Mavs coaches and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the report said.

The players could earn a spot on the Mavs' summer-league team that will play in Las Vegas in July with hopes of then earning a free-agent contract with Dallas or another team.

With only five former Trojans active in the NBA, it'd be nice to see Lewis get a crack at the professional ranks. We'll keep you posted on the draft as it gets closer to Thursday. For now:

Fight On!

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