The USC Trojans are coming off a strong NCAA Tournament run that raised expectations for the 2017-18 season. The only possible road block was potential departures for the NBA Draft. Coming off a memorable tourney run, draft stocks were trending up. When Elijah Stewart, Shaqquan Aaron, and Bennie Boatwright all declared for the draft, anxiety kicked in.
All eyes were on Chimezie Metu if he would follow. Luckily for USC, Metu did not and all three of his teammates pulled out of the draft. There was no hiding from the moment anymore. With those decisions, it was time to start preparation to face massive expectations.
Like Boatwright’s video, USC should be excited for the upcoming campaign. With everyone back from the team that set a new program record in wins, it’s an exciting time. In addition to the returning squad, the Trojans add one of the best transfers in the country in Derryck Thornton from Duke, as well as All-American Charles O’Bannon Jr.
That’s a loaded squad capable of at least a top-four finish in the Pac-12. Now, in order to reach that potential, Andy Enfield is going to have to work some coaching magic.
Between Aaron, Metu, Stewart, Boatwright, O’Bannon Jr., Thornton, Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Jonah Mathews, and Nick Rakocevic, that’s a lot of bodies. That’s a lot of talent. Throw in promising freshman Jordan Usher, and there could be some hurt feelings over playing time.
While it’s a challenge for Enfield, it’s a good problem to have. If he can keep everyone happy, USC can thrive off superb competition. Even for a program like USC, though, that’s a lot of touches and confidence to manage.
As tough as figuring out the rotation may be, the possibilities are endless. McLaughlin is there to control the tempo; Thornton can speed things up; Melton is the rock and the glue on defense; Metu protects the paint; Boatwright carries the scoring and the shooting. If they can play adequate defense, the Trojans might be able to top last season’s heroics. All that stands in the way is figuring out how to handle their depth.