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From Beyond The Arc: USC MBB 2023 Preview

The Trojans continue their bid to be top in the Pac-12

USC v Michigan State Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Head coach Andy Enfield will be entering his 11th season with the USC Trojans. In the past four seasons, the Trojans have placed no lower than 3rd place in the Pac-12 rankings, and have been in the NCAA Tournament for the past three years (they would surely have been included for the cancelled 2020 tournament, with a 22-9 record).

USC v Michigan State Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Last season, USC (22-11, 14-6 Pac-12) was tied for second in the Pac-12 standings and was seeded #3 in the Pac-12 tournament. After having a bye in the first round, USC lost their first game to #6 Arizona State 63-57. They entered the NCAA tournament as a 10-seed and dropped their first match against #7 Michigan State (who would reach the Sweet Sixteen before being ousted by Kansas).

The Trojans play very tough at home. Their home record last season was 15-2, and 9-1 in the Pac-12. They were 5-5 in away games and 2-4 at neutral sites, so USC enjoys a home court advantage. Against teams that ended the season in the top-25, they were 1-4 (defeated #8 UCLA; lost to UCLA, #16 Tennessee, #17 Arizona).

As a team, USC generally produced better offense than their opponents, and drew even in most other statistical categories. They shot 45.5% and 74.5% on FTs, to the opposition’s 39.3% and 71.4 % on FTs. The Trojans blocked 69 more shots than their opponents. Rebounds, steals, and turnovers averaged virtually the same.

USC’s primary starters last season were 6-9 5th-year G Drew Peterson, 6-3 Sr. G Boogie Ellis, 6-11 R-Jr. F Joshua Morgan, 6-6 So. G Kobe Johnson, and 6-7 Fr. G Tre White. Their sixth man, 6-5 So. G Reese Dixon-Waters, played more minutes than half the starters but only started in eight of 29 games.

These six players were also the six top producing players on the team. Boogie Ellis started all 33 games and led the way in averaging 17.7 PPG on 33.1 MPG, with 3.7 RPG. He shot 43.4% (38.6% on threes), and 80.5% from the line.

Drew Peterson also started every game. He averaged 13.9 PPG on 35.8 MPG. with 6.2 RPG. Peterson shot 44.2% (35.8% on threes), and 75.2% from the line.

Sixth man Reese Dixon-Waters averaged 9.8 PPG on 25.5 MPG, and 3.2 RPG. He shot 43.8% (29.6% from distance), and 77.5% from the line.

USC v Michigan State
#0 Kobe Johnson
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kobe Johnson averaged 9.2 PPG on 28.8 MPG, and 5.0 RPG. He shot 46.8% (36% on threes), and 84.1% from the line.

Tre White averaged 9.0 PPG on 26.7 MPG, and 5.1 RPG. White shot 47.4% (26.5% from distance), and 69% at the line.

USC v Michigan State
#24 Joshua Morgan
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Their other starter, Joshua Morgan, averaged 7.0 PPG on 24.4 MPG, with 5.2 RPG. He shot 58.2% (does not shoot threes), and 55.1% at the line. Morgan easily had the most number of blocks with 63 (Peterson was 2nd in blocking with 25).

The rest of the team played far fewer minutes per game regardless of the number of games they appeared in, and their numbers reflect what one might expect from bench players.

USC will return three of their starters from last season: Boogie Ellis, Kobe Johnson, and Joshua Morgan. Of their other starters, Drew Peterson graduated and Tre White transferred to Louisville. Bench players Reese Dixon-Waters transferred to San Diego State, and Malik Thomas transferred to San Francisco.

The Trojans signed four players for the 2023 class.

The most visible player of the freshman class is easily Bronny James. James is a 4* (5* On3) 6-4 G. However, on 7/24/23 at a Trojan’s practice, James had suffered a heart attack as a result of a congenital heart defect. He has not practiced with the team since. Reports from doctors three weeks ago state that James’ condition is treatable and being corrected at this time, and there is optimism that he can return to play in the near future.

Arrinten Page is a 4* 6-11 F from Marietta, GA, who was ranked as the No. 40 overall recruit by

Brandon Gardner is a 4* 6-8 F from GA who graduated from Christ The King High in New York city.

USC landed the #1 recruit in the nation with 6-5 G Isaiah Collier. He is a McDonald’s All-American with a lengthy list of honors to support his #1 ranking.

With all the star power that the Trojans are bringing in, they chose to only pull in one player from the transfer portal: 6-6 Gr. F DJ Rodman. He is the son of Dennis Rodman and played all four of his previous seasons with the Washington State Cougars. Rodman started in 30 of the 31 games he played, and averaged 9.6 PPG on 31.5 MPG, with 5.8 RPG. He shot 41.3% (38.1% on threes), and 79.2% from the line. Nearly all of his statistics have the steady, upward improvement that one would expect from four seasons with a Pac-12 team, and he should be a valuable component in 2023-24.

USC has an enviable, star-studded recruiting class that was ranked #4 nationally and #2 in the Pac-12. Even with the delayed return of Bronny James, it would take very dire circumstances for the Trojans to not be vying for #1 in the Pac-12 standings in 23-24.