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The Hoops Recruit Rundown

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From the holdovers to the earliest commits and the late breakers, let's take a look at USC's likely top 25 recruiting class:

Alex Stepheson (2006 - won't be included in this years class rankings): Scout: #55 (#11 C) Rivals: #41 (#11 PF) ESPN: N/A

The Lowdown: Everyone already knows about the Alex Stepheson saga already. After leaving UNC to be closer to his family and ailing father, Stepheson looked at ucla, ASU, and USC. After being recruited over most of the summer Stepheson eventually settled on the Trojans not too long after ucla picked up highly rated center J'mison Morgan. Orginally expected to play this season, Alex was denied a hardship waiver from the NCAA. His only real weakness is the lack of a polished offensive game, so it will be interesting to see what the coaches have done with him in the offseason.

Youtubin':

Alex Stephenson dunk vs. v-tech (via carolinagirl69642)

...But can he play PG?: Haha yeah right. Who do you think he is, Magic Johnson?

Wrapping Things Up: Alex Stepheson will be an impact player for USC over the next couple of years. He has incredible strength and size (6'9"-6'10", 235 lbs) and will be a force on the glass. Whether Taj Gibson stays or goes (please stay), Stepheson will see serious minutes next season.

Noel Johnson: Scout: #58 (#11 SG) Rivals: #38 (#7 SF) ESPN: #65 (#12 SF)

The Lowdown: Although listed by many sites as a small forward, the most likely position for Noel Johnson at USC has to be a shooting guard. Certainly Johnson has the size (at 6'6"-6'7") and athleticism to slash and play around the rim, but his quick release and silky smooth jump shot are his main strengths. Johnson is a little thin at 180 lbs, but not terribly so, and apparently he needs to be a bit more aggressive. All in all though Noel is a very well rounded player and its easy to see why he was so high on the Floyd's wish list for this class.

Youtubin':

(New Video) Noel Johnson, Fayette County High School (via VideoSportsScout)

...But can he play PG?: Johnson has good handles and actually acted as the point guard for his AAU team as a 6th man. Its doubtful, and I mean really really doubtful, that he starts at the point or plays it as his primary position, but he will be able to help out with the ball handling responsibilities when he is on the court.

Wrapping Things Up: Noel Johnson may start some games for SC next year depending on whether or not Derozan decides to stay (please stay), but either way expect him to come off the bench regularly and make a definite contribution next year and eventually become a go to scorer for USC in the future.

Derrick Williams: Scout: NR (NR PF) Rivals: NR ESPN: NR (#37 PF)

The Lowdown: Derrick Williams may be the most interesting prospect on this list. He is very under the radar and is not even ranked in the top 200 for most scouting services. Playing at the as a combo forward for La Mirada, WIlliams is averaging nearly 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. Williams brings a developed set of post skills to go with a respectable jump shot. It is only very late in the recruiting cycles that Williams began receiving a lot of interest from high major D-1 programs, but it seems like he came on very strong this past summer.

Youtubin':

DOD: Derrick Williams 8/19/08 (via hooptv)

...But can he play PG?: Williams value is playing down low. Although his game is a bit more varied than a traditional back to the basket PF or C, if WIlliams is spending most of his time handling the ball then something is horribly wrong.

Wrapping Things Up: It will be interesting to see how much playing time Derrick sees next season. With Gibson, Washington, Vucevic, and Stepheson there may not be much time available. EIther way, Williams seems like a hard worker and will be at the very least a solid role player for SC. Think of him like a better (and hopefully injury free) Kasey Cunningham.

Three down, three more after the jump...

Solomon Hill: Scout: #64 (#14 SF) Rivals: #28 (#3 SF) ESPN: #96 (#21 SF)

The Lowdown: If Derrick Williams is the most interesting prospect, then perhaps Solomon Hill has the most inriguing skill set. Often classified as a Point Forward, the Fairfax standout is a distributor who also scores and rebounds well in the post. Strangely enough, despite his passing ability and dribbling skills the least developed aspect of his game is his jump shot. Somewhat over shadowed by teammate and fellow SC commit Renardo Sidney, Hill is nonetheless an excellent prospect in his own right and is rated as the top combo forward on the west coast by Full Court Press (take a look at #3 on that list as well).

Youtubin':

Soloman Hill @ Pacific Shores Tournament (via Ballislifedotcom Yes, they misspelled his name)

...But can he play PG?: Solomon is comfortable with the ball in his hands and is a good passer. While he won't be a pure point, Hill is similar to Daniel Hackett in that he posseses a lot of point guard skills in an SF's body.

Wrapping Things Up: I am not sure how much of an impact Solomon Hill will have next year (it could be a lot or a little depending on how things shake out), but it shouldn't be too hard for anyone to envision him as a starter and contributor in the years to come. A good get for USC and the kind of talented player that will stay more than one or two years that form the core of most major programs.

Mike Gerrity: NR

The Lowdown: The wandering point guard had a solid freshman season at Pepperdine before transferring to Charlotte due to a coaching change. In his one season of play at Charlotte he came off the bench for 12 minutes per game and put up decent assist numbers to go with the occasional 3 pointer. Now at USC, Gerrity will likely act as a stop gap in a support role behind Donte Smith until Gary Franklin rolls into town in 2010 as he only has a half season to play with the Trojans a la Marcus Johnson.

...But can he play PG?: Having never seen him play or even heard of him until he decided to transfer, all I have to say is that I sure hope so.

Wrapping Things Up: In my opinion I find it hard to imagine that Donte will not be much improved next year, and it will definitely be interesting to see what role Gerrity has on the team. Its likely that he'll be behind Hackett, Smith, and possibly even Wetherell, but what does SC have to lose by taking on a walk on PG who has College Basketball playing experience? Who knows, maybe he will turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

Renardo Sidney: Scout: #5 (#2 PF) Rivals: #10 (#3 PF) ESPN: #5 (#3 PF)

The Lowdown: Renardo Sidney is arguably the best player in the country. Problems relating to possible character issues and weight fluctuations combined with conditioning issues have put a bit of a damper on his ranking, but in spite of that he is still a consensus top 10 player. Sidney brings a lot to the table and is an immediate impact player. Not only does his size make him a force in the paint, he is also a capable shooter and can break down his man off the dribble making him a huge match up issue. Like many high school stars he still has a lot of room to improve on defense, and if he adds a few more low post moves to his repertoire then he will be almost unstoppable down low. A likely one and done more in the vein of the elite players of the past two classes, Renardo will have an immediate impact on SC's fortunes next season (assuming he qualifies).

Youtubin' x2:

Renardo Sidney @ Pacific Shores Tournament (via Ballislifedotcom)

RENARDO SIDNEY BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS BY TrIpLe G (via TrIpLeGHighlights)

...But can he play PG?: Sidney can ease the pressure on the guards by playing on the perimeter and can even bring the ball up court in the fast break. USC will be much better served though by feeding Sidney rather than relying on him to handle the ball on his own.

Wrapping Things Up: Sidney is a one and done no doubt, so SC will have to get as much out of him in his one year as they can. If he makes it to USC and the right players return then the Trojans become an immediate favorite for the Pac 10 title next season. We'll just have to wait and see though!

**BONUS COVERAGE**: For all pure PG lovers out there, rumors are starting to fly that SC is taking a very serious look at Westchester PG Dominique O'Connor. O'Connor is also seeing interest from Arizona and San Francisco, but it is questionable whether he has what it takes to have an impact on the Pac 10 level as a freshman.

So there you have, all you need to know about the incoming players in one neat package. If everything comes together SC will be bringing in one of the nation's best classes. And don't despair, despite the lack of a true long term PG Tim Floyd has Gary Franklin lined up for 2010 and Ryan Boatright for 2011. Right now the future of USC Basketball is looking pretty bright.

(Player Rankings: Scout Rivals ESPNU Other Links: Full Court Press Ken Pomeroy)