#76 USC Trojans: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The USC Trojans were one of the final teams to get an at-large bid into the 2011 NCAA Tournament.  With several key players gone from that team and a season-ending injury to guard Jio Fontan, Southern Cal is a long shot to get back to the Big Dance.

USC TROJANS
T-4th, 10-8 in Pac-10, 19-15 overall
Predicted Pac-12 Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: DeWayne Dedmon (So)/James Blasczyk (Jr)/Curtis Washington (Fr)
PF: Aaron Fuller (Jr)/Evan Smith (So)
SF: Garrett Jackson (So)/Byron Wesley (Fr)
SG: Greg Allen (Jr)
PG: Maurice Jones (So)/Alexis Moore (Fr)/Jio Fontan (Sr-out for season)

Gone: F/C-Nikola Vucevic, PF-Alex Stephenson, SF-Marcus Simmons, PG-Donte Smith, SG-Bryce Jones (transfer-UNLV)

usc cheerleaders

2011-2012 Outlook:
Fontan was supposed to provide the experience for the Trojans this season.  However, he tore his ACL on the team’s trip to Brazil which is a huge loss for a team that already has to replace three other starters and their top reserve from last season.

Add in a shoulder injury that will likely cost Curtis Washington the entire season and the fact that former Wake Forest Demon Deacon Ari Stewart and UC-Irvine’s Eric Wise are eating up two scholarships but must sit out this season due to transfer rules; and that leaves Kevin O’Neill with just nine scholarship players.  O’Neill usually has a tight rotation anyway so the lack of bodies does not hurt as much as the lack of talent.

Sophomore Maurice Jones will have to carry the load in the backcourt with the absence of Fontan.  Jones stands just 5-7 but doesn’t let his lack of size hinder his effectiveness on the floor.  He played nearly 35 minutes per game as a freshman and is the team’s top returning scorer.

JUCO transfer Greg Allen and freshman Alexis Moore will compete for the other starting guard spot.  Allen is more of a scorer while Moore has a well-rounded game and could become a favorite of O’Neill due to his tenacity as a perimeter defender.

The frontcourt features three transfers who should see significant roles this season to replace the losses of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson.  DeWayne Dedmon is a defensive-minded seven-footer who O’Neill has raved about this off-season.  Former Texas A&M big man James Blasczyk is 7-1 and offers even more size inside.  Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller is expected to start at power forward.  At 6-6, he is a bit under-sized but Fuller does have a strong build and nice mid-range game which should help the Trojans.  Evan Smith returns after using a medical redshirt last season and will back up Fuller.

Garrett Jackson will likely take over the starting small forward role. Jackson saw decent minutes as a freshman and his versatility is his biggest asset.  Freshman Byron Wesley is a physical wing who will be able to play the two or three this season.

With another challenging non-conference schedule USC should once again have a solid RPI which will help their tourney resume.  However, wins will be the deciding factor for this team and I do not see them finishing above five-hundred in the Pac-12 which will quickly burst their bubble.  You never do know with O’Neill and the way his teams defend the basketball though.   If they can control the tempo of the game and D’ up, maybe, just maybe there is a chance the Trojans will prove me wrong.

Player to Watch: DeWayne Dedmon
O’Neill uncharacteristically hyped up Dedmon this off-season saying he will average a double-double and will certainly be a first round pick, possibly as early as next summer.  Those are bold statements when talking about a guy who averaged just 6.6 points and 7.8 rebounds as a freshman at Antelope Valley College.  Dedmon certainly looks the part and if he can back up O’Neill’s praise, might become one of the more dominant big men in college basketball.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/14 vs. Nebraska
11/17 at San Diego State
11/25 vs. UNLV (Las Vegas Invitational)
11/26 vs. North Carolina/South Carolina (Las Vegas Invitational)
12/3 at Minnesota
12/10 vs. New Mexico
12/17 vs. Georgia
12/19 vs. TCU
12/22 vs. Kansas

OTHER 111 IN 111’S
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#105 Providence Friars
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the #111 Utah Utes and NBA material at college basketball and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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