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The Scholarly Spotlight: USC Trojans

The basketball program for the University Of Southern California had a very exciting summer recruiting for their 2023-2024 season. They acquired some of the best talent high school basketball has to offer. Their recruiting class included freshmen Isaiah Collier, Arrinten Page, and Lebron James Jr. All three had an incredible amount of notoriety from high school. Now, they have teamed up in college for the world to witness. They also added DJ Rodman to the roster from Washington State via the transfer portal. 

Isaiah Collier is a 6’4 guard coming out of Marietta, GA where he played at Wheeler High School during his senior year, Collier averaged 19.6 PPG, 6.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.2 steals for the Wildcats.  He played so well his senior year that he was invited to play in the 2023 McDonald's All-American game and also ended the year with a 3.30 GPA in the classroom showing he can balance being a student-athlete.

Collier is one of the most highly touted prospects in the nation.  Mock drafts from notable basketball websites like Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated predict he will be a top 5 pick in the 2024 NBA draft. All of his scouting reports have similar details about his skillset. He has a frame that is ready for the NBA and he can take over games with his killer instinct on the court.  It’ll be interesting to see how he and Lebron James Jr fair as a backcourt together against the competition in the PAC-12 this year. 

Arrinten Page played alongside Collier at Wheeler and carved out a great career while at the school. During his senior year, he averaged 15.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. He can spread the floor with his 3-point shooting ability , and he ended his last year shooting 31%. His scouting report says he has a big and strong frame that should fill out nicely as he continues to lift heavier weights. This will help him down in the paint against collegiate big men as they're naturally bigger than high school players.

It'll be interesting to see Page's development over the course of his collegiate career because of the potential that he possesses. He is a 6'11 center who can spread the floor and he has the ability to score in the post as well with incredible versatility. His size and athleticism make him a constant lob threat. This will cause team defenses some issues having to keep track of Page and his teammates as well as knowing he can score from anywhere at any moment. It'll be fun to see what he brings to USC this season.

Lebron James Jr’s commitment to the University Of Southern California was one of the biggest stories in sports last year. Known as Bronny James he's the son of all-time great Lebron James and his arrival at the school has the university very excited. He played high school basketball at the private school Sierra Canyon in Los Angeles, CA where he averaged 14.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.8 steals per game. James led the Trailblazers to the state championship, but lost the game to Notre Dame 80-61. His performances on the court of Sierra Canyon earned him a roster spot in the 2023 McDonald’s All-American game. During the game, he got to play alongside his new teammate Isaiah and scored 15 points all from behind the 3-point line. The East would still win the game with a final score of 109-106. 

It will be exciting to see the son of an NBA legend grow during his first year on the world stage of collegiate basketball. Scouts have different opinions on whether he will become a superstar in the league. Mock drafts have him projected to be a mid-first-round pick, but this is a pre-season prediction before touching the floor to prove himself. We must see how he performs in USC’s system throughout the season.

Many people are unaware, but Bronny James isn’t the only son of an NBA legend on the roster this year. DJ Rodman is the son of legendary power forward Dennis Rodman Sr. He is transferring from Washington State where he spent four years under Head Coach Kyle Smith. Last season he averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 42.5 3PTFG% during conference games. He was the number 1-rated offensive player in the entire PAC-12.

The scouting reports on Rodman mention that he is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions on the perimeter and inside the paint.  He is good at getting offensive rebounds and creating second-chance shot opportunities for himself and his teammates. His 3-point shooting provides good floor spacing, and he can alternate between both forward positions. He can draw power forwards out of the paint so his teammates can penetrate more easily.

USC's record last season was 22-11 with a conference record of 14-6 ranked 3rd in the PAC-12 under #2 Arizona and #1 UCLA. The new talent will provide USC with better depth for their bench unit. Collier and James will combine to make an explosive backcourt but have to get used to each other's game during the first couple months of the season. Rodman will be useful on the wing with his perimeter defense and 3-point shooting ability. 

Head Coach Andy Enfield utilizes “The Ball Screen” offense and constantly attacks the rim at a fast pace. His coaching has a good assist-to-turnover ratio and uses misdirection to trick defenses into anticipating what play the team is trying to run.  The system is for a team with multiple offensive weapons, and USC improved its offensive potential substantially during the summer.  It will be interesting to see how Enfield uses his system with Collier, James, and Rodman this year. 

USC fans have many things to look forward to this year with new talent arriving at the school. With Bronny James on the team, there will be fans and celebrities alike coming to the games to watch him perform, and they will witness the talent of his teammates as well.  With the arrival of James, the entire team will be in the spotlight, and this could help all of their draft stocks with good performances. Their season opener will be on the road versus Kansas State on November 6th and they have their home opener against California State on the 9th.  There will be a lot of eyes on the Trojans this year so we will have to see how they handle the pressure. 



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