The USC men's basketball team enters the season with a brand new ball club, featuring six new players that are hoping to enliven the downtrodden program that amassed just two conference wins last year.
There are plenty of young players that will be thrown into the fire and expected to contribute early and often. The Trojans lost almost 80 percent of their top scorers from last season. There are no seniors and just two juniors -- both of which will be coming off the bench.
Leading scorer Byron Wesley left the program and transferred to Gonzaga despite the opportunity to potentially finish in the top five of points scored in USC history. Instead, USC will be led by the talented duo of redshirt sophomore transfers Darion Clark and Katin Reinhardt along with four-star freshman recruit Jordan McLaughlin to help the Trojans get out in the open court.
The Trojans plan to run up and down the court playing 40-minutes of in-your-face basketball. The conditioning from head coach Andy Enfield and staff will be crucial for this group's success, especially once Pac-12 play kicks off at the start of the 2015 calendar year.
How can the Trojans win more than 11 games this season?
USC has to have just the right amount of tempo on the floor, but the answer lies not just with a couple of sophomores and some talented freshmen. The entire roster will have to contribute. That's why we're counting down the entire roster. This isn't who will score the most points or grab the most rebounds. Instead, we ranked the players based on importance to the Trojans' success this season.
We start the countdown at the bottom of the 14-man roster with numbers 14-11:
14. Devon Pflueger - Guard
The 6'6", 195-pound shooting guard is only going to play during garbage time. Devon Pflueger and Samer Dhillon are the Trojans' two true walk-ons, meaning neither will see the court. If Pflueger does get into the game, he is a spot-up outside threat.
He scored three points and grabbed five rebounds in six minutes of game action his freshman season. Against Howard, he scored his first career point and grabbed four rebounds in two minutes. His senior year of high school, Pflueger averaged 9.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 21 games before suffering a season-ending injury.
13. Samer Dhillon - Forward
One of the first Indian basketball players to compete in a Power 5 conference, Samer Dhillon gets the edge over Pflueger because of the Trojans' lack of depth in the frontcourt. The undersized 6'7" forward is an injury to a post player away from being a part of the second team. Andy Enfield would likely shrink his rotation and play with an even smaller lineup than will be used this season, but the possibility still gives Dhillon the advantage over his fellow sophomore walk-on. Dhillon is also a year and a half younger than Pflueger.
At Inderkum HS in Sacramento, Samer Dhillon averaged 13.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, helping lead his team to the most wins in school history. Last season, he played in three games, earning four minutes. He came down with one rebound and made his only shot attempt, scoring his first career points against Stanford.
12. Brendyn Taylor - Guard
Brendyn Taylor appears to be the forgotten man on the USC roster. Despite good athleticism and strong man-to-man defense, Taylor hasn't been a fit in the Andy Enfield system. After amassing 100 minutes of game time in 14 games his freshman season under Kevin O'Neill/Bob Cantu, Taylor played only 89 minutes in 18 games last season. He did miss the final six games of the year because of a knee injury, but had received only 21 minutes in the six games prior to the injury.
Cal State Northridge and West Alabama were the only two games Brendyn Taylor received double-digit minutes after five such games his freshman season. Taylor set his career high with six points in both of those games last season. Playing time might be scarce this year for Taylor as the freshmen Enfield brought in have similar, but better skill sets. Enfield is probably quietly hoping the Trojans' only scholarship junior decides to transfer somewhere he can get more playing time his senior year.
11. Kahlil Dukes - Guard
There haven't been many Connecticut natives in USC hoops history. In fact, Kahlil Dukes may actually be the first. And he definitely did some damage in Connecticut before coming to USC. As a freshman, Dukes led the state, averaging 29.1 points per game. He once scored 51 points in a double overtime game, including a step-back 3-pointer to send the game to the second OT. During his senior season, Dukes averaged 23.9 points, 3.9 assists and 3.0 steals.
Plain and simple, Kahlil Dukes is a shooter. Dukes is a hard worker that routinely gets up extra shots before and after practice. But that's his skill. He was a respectable 11-for-31 from three-point range as a freshman last season while playing in 19 games (two starts). He played a career-high 20 minutes against Utah and took advantage, putting up nine shots, making four for 10 points -- all career highs. He also notched a career-high two steals. If a team tries to go zone against USC, Dukes could potentially be inserted as a zone buster.