After suffering their 21st and final loss of the 2013-2014 season at the hands of the Colorado Buffaloes, it would only help lighten the blow by diving into the next crop of talent coming into USC's hands for next season.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, and folks knew plenty well that an opportunity for the NCAA's, NIT's or even CIT's were well out the window; seniors Pe'Shon Howard, J.T. Terrell, Omar Oraby, D.J. Haley and Daniel Munoz walked off the court and into the locker room for the final time in their college careers.
While the Trojans certainly do rank among the perennial top-25 the football team, USC does possess one of the states top talents. That young man, the Etiwanda H.S. PG Jordan McLaughlin, chose USC over UCLA and others giving Andy Enfield his first four-star recruit and more importantly, a leader to run the point for years to come.
Jabari Craig (Three-Star Center: Tucker, GA)
After receiving a bulk of offers from Pac-12 rivals which included that likes of ASU, Arizona and UCLA, the rising 6-10 prospect will be looking for immediate playing time down low for Andy Enfield's bunch. Craig will enter the fold as a somewhat raw prospect in terms of his footwork and post game down low, but he does bring tremendous athleticism and rim-protecting skills to possibly provide the Trojans a stretch defender.
This year will actually only be Craig's fourth season playing basketball. He formerly played soccer, ran track and swam, but likely didn't pick up basketball until he hit a growth spurt at 12 or 13 years old. It still wasn't a major emphasis on the game until Vidal Massiah, director of the Canadian AAU program Northern Kings, told him he had the talent to take it to the next level and pushed him there. (Thanks to Shotgun Spratling for the extra research)
Malik Marquetti (Three-Star SF: Long Beach, CA)
The high-flying wing (6-5, 180 pounds) is a terror along the baseline due to his length, assertiveness, and hang time. He affects the game in multiple areas due to his long arms and bounce. He has excellent instincts which is exhibited by his passing and his motor is non-stop at both ends. Deciding upon USC as his first and only offer, Marquetti seems to fit the mold of an atypical Andy Enfield recruit that can stretch the court and defend multiple positions with his tremendous athleticism.
Marquetti has risen up the prospect rankings over the past few weeks, drawing interest from the likes of Tom Izzo and Bill Self after taking a major step in his game last summer. Now in his final season, Marquetti still considers USC his dream school and cites that the additions of Tony Bland and Jason Hart swayed him towards the Trojans cause.
Jordan McLaughlin (Four-Star PG: Etiwanda, CA)
USC has not been as excited about a talented player coming to campus since DeMar DeRozan stepped foot through the Trojans doors of the Galen Center. The local four-star product brings an electric set of skills that could instantly make him the starting point guard for Andy Enfield's run-and-shoot offense.
McLaughlin is an explosive scoring point guard can get to the rim at will and his ability to slither his way through defenders is incredible. He can score in every conceivable way, yet he still has the time to drop off passes to get teammates involved on offense. While currently battling a shoulder injury, the talented point guard will even try to battle through pain in the State CIF Championships and should be fully healthy very soon.
Malik Price-Martin (Three-Star PF: Opa Loca, CA)
Price-Martin chose to play for Andy Enfield and USC over the likes of UConn, Louisville and Miami among others, and his collegiate potential could certainly be among the highest of any three-star product from California. He scores the ball in the high post by driving to the basket or hitting a jumper and will also attack the offensive glass to score second-chance points.
Defensively, he changes/blocks shots with his seven-foot wingspan. No one should ever feel comfortable with break-away lay-ups with his ability to block shots from behind, something that reminds us very much of what former Trojan Dewayne Dedmon provided for the program during his three-year USC career.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRANSFERS
Katin Reinhardt (UNLV)
You want to talk about an instant glue player for some of USC's biggest weakness, then bring along the likes of Katin Reinhardt (35% 3-PT) to the worst three-point shooting offense in all the Pac-12. Reinhardt transferred from UNLV after wanting to pass more in college, but he will have to become more efficient with the basketball (he finished with a 98.8 offensive rating, and shot 36.7 percent from 2) to spread the court for his teammates.
Darion Clark (Charlotte)
The Trojans also needed a grinder down low to replace the likes of Eric Wise, Aaron Fuller and James Blasczyk that have left the program over recent years. While only 6-7 and 235 pounds, Clark instantly provides a strong rebounding presence (4.6 RPG in 2012) and an incredibly tenacious demeanor towards working hard against bigger forwards down low. Clark becomes the rotational player to fill Oraby and Haley's shoes, while also affording Enfield the chance to play small on defense.