Although it may be hard to believe given his No. 37 ranking in the class of 2018 by ESPN, point guard Elijah Weaver might be the incoming USC freshman flying the most under the radar.
Welcome to the #TrojanFamily, Elijah Weaver (@___ewr)!— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) April 11, 2018
The 6-foot-5 guard is a consensus Top 40 player in the nation after being named the Florida Class 6A Player of the Year. #ItTakesATeam pic.twitter.com/XIH6JvY9oi
Kevin Porter Jr. (officially) started the USC basketball recruiting buzz by committing to USC ahead of the start of last season, and while listed by ESPN as No. 40 in their class, was slightly higher rated than Weaver by several other recruiting sites. He is also more of a pure scorer than his future backcourt partner, and as a result has frankly higher expectations.
Porter temporarily became the sole big-time commitment after J’Raan Brooks revoked his as a result of the FBI probe. Brooks came back into the headlines when he recommitted in March, boosting the spirits of an emotionally depleted Trojan fanbase following the team’s shocking failure to make the NCAA Tournament.
And 5-star winger Taeshon Cherry decommitted from the cardinal and gold and will instead play for Pac-12 South rival Arizona State after being linked to the infamous probe. USC may have lucked out on that one, however, as in addition to the FBI rumors, Cherry was expelled from his high school for unspecified violations of team rules.
Weaver himself quietly delayed his decision as a result of the scandal, though finally confirmed his plans in October. The Trojans are more than thankful he did.
“I would say my strengths on the court are my passing and my ability to play defense,” Weaver told Conquest Chronicles. “IQ. I just know how to play the game.”
Former Trojan and now current Houston Rocket De’Anthony Melton fit that exact mold. In his lone college season, he led the Pac-12 in steals and was top ten in assists. While he didn’t show prolific scoring nor have many opportunities to do so, his intangibles landed him an opportunity at the next level.
Yet Weaver is much more fine-tuned offensively than Melton was at this stage of his career. The former averaged 23 points and just under nine assists per game in high school, over three more points and nearly double the assists of Melton.
Head Coach Andy Enfield echoed Weaver’s assessment of his skillset.
“Weaver is a big guard who is a tremendous leader, passer and defender,” he said. “His overall skill set will immediately help our program.”
The Cocoa, Fla. Native is determined to help bring the program its first Pac-12 Tournament title in a decade, and with it an invitation to the Big Dance.
To do so, Weaver said, he’s going to, “do whatever the coaches ask, and then some.”
That mentality is a necessity for the Trojans if they want to accomplish the goals Weaver has set out for them.
With four marquee players gone and a potentially very crowded backcourt with Weaver, Porter, Jonah Mathews, Derryck Thornton and Charles O’Bannon Jr. all competing for playing time, players are going to have to mesh quickly and get used to new roles.
Whichever role Enfield gives him, Weaver will be up to the task.