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The Five Greatest USC Basketball Players of All Time

These former Trojan stars are all school legends. We tell you why they’re the best of the best.

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1. Harold Miner

As a star at nearby Inglewood High School, shooting guard Harold Miner earned the nickname “Baby Jordan” because of his play above the rim and overall scoring ability.

Miner is the school record-holder with 2,048 career points, over 300 more than the next highest on the list, Ronnie Coleman. He was a three-time All-American as well as All-Pac-10 honoree.

In 1992, Miner was the Sports Illustrated National Player of the Year and Pac-10 Player of the Year as a junior.

That season, he led the Trojans to what was at the time a school record-tying 24 wins. It took a historic buzzer beater by Georgia Tech to knock off the No. 2 seed Trojans in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

He was 7th in the country with 26.2 points per game. Joining him as ’92 1st Team All-Americans were Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Jim Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal.

Miner went on to win two slam-dunk contests in his four-year NBA career with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

2. Sam Clancy Jr.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no USC team went farther than the 2000-2001 squad, led by forward Sam Clancy Jr.

As a junior, Clancy guided the Trojans to the Elite Eight, trumping Kentucky and future NBA champion Tayshaun Prince in the Sweet 16. It took the eventual tournament winner Duke, led by Shane Battier and Jason Williams, to end the Trojans’ historic run.

Clancy fueled the Trojans to that same 24-win mark. He led the team in both points and rebounds with 17.3 and 7.5 respectively.

The following season, he was named Pac-10 Player of the Year and to the Associated Press All-American 2nd Team.

Clancy has the third most career points and rebounds among Trojans, and the second-highest block total behind Taj Gibson.

He was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers but never appeared in an NBA game following a bad knee injury, and currently plays for Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba in Argentina.

3. Taj Gibson

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Current Minnesota Timberwolves forward and former collegiate teammate of Nick “Swaggy P” Young, Gibson was a force to be reckoned with in the cardinal and gold.

Besides Clancy and company’s Elite Eight finish, Gibson’s 2006-2007 side is the only other USC team to reach the Sweet Sixteen since the tournament expansion.

In the second round, Gibson had a monstrous double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds over Kevin Durant’s Texas Longhorns in a rematch of the epic National Championship football game at the Rose Bowl the previous year.

Along with DeMar DeRozan, he was a key member of the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament champions, where the 6th seeded Trojans made a shocking run to the final and knocked off James Harden’s Arizona State Sun Devils.

Gibson had a team high 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest, and was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He was a two-time All-Pac-10 man as well.

Gibson is the school record holder with 253 career blocks and trails only Ron Riley on the all-time rebounds list.

4. Jordan McLaughlin

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While he finished up his career at USC less than four months ago, the fact that Jordan McLaughlin is fresh in the minds of Trojan fans has nothing to do with his inclusion on this list. This past season, he was a top ten finalist for the Bob Cousy award, given to the nation’s best point guard.

JMac finished in the top five in school history in points, three-pointers, steals, and assists, where he trails only Brandon Granville.

He averaged double-digit points per game in all four seasons, including his sophomore year where he led the team with 13.4, and topped the team in assists in all but one campaign.

But McLaughlin’s greatest contributions may have come off the stat sheet. He brought a program still reeling from sanctions caused by O.J. Mayo back to relevance, and kept it that way as the captain during the FBI probe involving De’Anthony Melton.

McLaughlin went undrafted but was signed by the Brooklyn Nets. He had seven points and three assists in his summer league debut yesterday.

5. Bill Sharman

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Bill Sharman is one of just four Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Fame Members as both a player and coach. The other three are John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens and Tommy Heinsohn.

Prior to attending USC, Sharman fought for the United States Navy in World War II.

Then, as a Trojan from 1946-1950, Sharman played under the founder of the triangle offense, Sam Berry. Sharman’s teammate, Tex Winter, would go on to teach it to Michael Jordan as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls, two years before Phil Jackson joined the staff.

Sharman was an All-American in his senior season, and won the league MVP back when it was the Pacific Coast Conference.

He and Bob Cousy paired for an unstoppable backcourt for the Boston Celtics, winning four NBA championships in five seasons from 1957-1961. He also won the finals as the head coach for the 1972 Lakers, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Pat Riley.

In addition to basketball, Sharman played first base on the USC baseball team. After winning the 1948 College World Series, he played minor league baseball for several years in the then-Brooklyn Dodgers’ system.