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Hoops Notes

I know football season is just about upon us but there a re couple of things going on with the basketball program.

Mexico Prep

USC gets a chance to evaluate their players early, as they get ready to play in Mexico next weekend.

Capitalizing on an NCAA rule that lets teams compete internationally once every four years, the Trojans are tentatively scheduled to play two teams from Mexico's Professional National Basketball League.

The trip comes at an opportune time for USC, whose roster is undergoing major reshuffling after losing its top three scorers from the team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Even a highly touted recruiting class that includes guard O.J. Mayo and forward Davon Jefferson will be hard-pressed to offset the loss of Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt and Lodrick Stewart, who averaged a combined 43.8 points.

The Trojans opened practice Wednesday in preparation for their trip to the resort town along Mexico's central Pacific coast. Coach Tim Floyd had to bring back former walk-on Chris Penrose to conduct five-on-five drills because the team's six-man freshman class can't begin practicing until the first day of school on Monday.

This is going to be interesting to watch. We are kind of at a crossroads with all these new faces and it at a time where we have seen some new found success. There will be some ups and downs this season so we should just enjoy the ride.

Hackett to play on the Italian National Team?

There is a good chance that Daniel Hackett won't make the trip to Mexico, as he is close to being named to the Italian National Team.

The Trojans sophomore guard is one of 14 finalists for a spot on the Italian national team, whose roster will be whittled to 12 on Monday in preparation for the FIBA European Championships.

So, after returning to Southern California on Thursday from Italy, where he helped lead the under-20 national team to a bronze medal in the European Basketball Championships, Hackett could be hopping back on a plane to his native country as soon as Monday.

"Hopefully, they'll give me a call and I'll fly back," said Hackett, who probably would have to miss the Trojans' exhibition trip to Mazatlan, Mexico, over Labor Day weekend if he joined the national team.

If it happens that is great! SC will surely miss him but that is quite an honor. Congrats Daniel!

Cunningham should Contribute

After missing last season to a knee injury Kasey Cunningham is looking forward to getting back on the court.

Expected to be a significant contributor out of Albuquerque Cibola High, he was sidelined the entire season by a torn knee ligament that healed slower than expected. He participated in some practice drills toward the end of the season while wearing a bulky knee brace but never played in a game.

Cunningham shed the brace earlier this summer and resumed full-contact drills this week as the Trojans began preparations for a series of exhibition games over Labor Day weekend in Mazatlan, Mexico.

"It's great to be back out there with the guys," Cunningham said. "Last year was hard to watch, but it was fun to watch too. It's just great to be back on a good team."

There are a lot of new faces on the team this year and while Cunningham didn't play last season he familiarity with system and Coach Floyd will help with new guys settling in. welcome back Kasey!

New Director of Basketball Ops

USC Hired Dwayne Polee father of commit Dwayne Polee Jr. to be the new director of basketball operations.

Trojans Coach Tim Floyd said he was not concerned that his most recent hire was the father of a top recruit "because I think he's more qualified than 90% of the assistants that come into college basketball based on his playing experience and what he can bring to the table for us at SC through his contacts in our area."

The Trojans would not have to use a scholarship on Polee Jr. because his father is a university employee. The team has a similar arrangement with sophomore guard Daniel Hackett, whose father, Rudy, is the strength and conditioning coordinator.

Polee was a standout 6-foot-5 swingman at Manual Arts High who went on to star at Pepperdine before the Clippers selected him in the third round of the 1986 NBA draft. He played in one game with the Clippers, which was the extent of his NBA career.

Floyd described Polee, 44, as an invaluable recruiting tool because of his background and personality.

You can already hear the mock outrage coming from our detractors. There is a reason that Tim Floyd is the coach and we are not, he knows what he is doing. I'm not going to get worked up over it or how it looks, as it is not my concern.