#7 USC Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

USC Trojans
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #7
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
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Andy Enfield has turned USC into a program on the rise as they have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Trojans return all eight of their top scorers from last season’s Sweet 16 team. USC will have one of the most experienced and talented rosters in the nation. USC also adds a Duke transfer along with two four-star recruits to bolster their depth. Enfield’s biggest issue will likely just be trying to distribute playing time amongst his players. The Trojans will have not only Pac-12 title aspirations, but national championship hopes as well.
2016-17 Record: 26-10, 10-8
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Andy Enfield
Coach Record:
70-64 at USC, 111-92 overall
Who’s Out:
The only player USC loses from last season is Charles Buggs. Buggs spent just one season with the Trojans as a graduate transfer from Minnesota. Buggs played in 24 games, averaging 1.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per contest.
Who’s In:
Derryck Thornton is a transfer from Duke who will be eligible this season. Thornton started 20 games as a freshman at Duke, averaging 7.1 points and 2.6 assists. Thornton will provide a steady back-up to Jordan McLaughlin this year and will be the point guard of the future. Chuck O’Bannon is a four-star, top-50 recruit in the nation. O’Bannon is a 6-6 guard who was a McDonald’s All-American and could play important minutes off the bench. Jordan Usher is another four-star recruit who was ranked just outside of the top-100. Usher is a 6-7 forward who should add depth this season and could become a top scorer in the future. Victor Uyaelunmo is a three-star center who will likely struggle to get minutes as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
The Trojans return essentially every major contributor from last year. Bennie Boatwright missed 17 games last year, but led USC in scoring when he returned from injury. Boatwright averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19 appearances and should be USC’s go-to scorer this year.  Jordan McLaughlin is the conductor of the Trojan offense at point guard. McLaughlin started all 36 games as a junior, averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Chimezie Metu is a 6-11 center with freakish, NBA-caliber athleticism. Metu was named to the second team All-Pac-12 as a sophomore behind his 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Elijah Stewart led the Trojans with 78 made threes last season and averaged 12.3 points per game. Stewart is a microwave scorer who can take over a game when he gets hot from the perimeter. De’Anthony Melton is another NBA prospect who had a strong freshman campaign. Melton is a well-rounded player who averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks. Shaqquan Aaron averaged 7.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in his first season in a USC jersey. Jonah Mathews played in 35 games as a freshman, averaging 7.0 points. Mathews and Aaron will be key reserves who can score in bunches off the bench. Nick Rakocevic is a reserve big man who played in all 36 games as a freshman. Rakocevic has a bright future after he averaged 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in just 14.9 minutes per game. Finally, Harrison Henderson is back after appearing in 13 games as a freshman.
Final Projection:
The Trojans enter 2017-18 with a rare amount of returning production from a team that made the Sweet 16. The Trojans have multiple players with All-Pac-12 potential and NBA-level talent. Head coach Andy Enfield will have to keep his team happy by balancing minutes and scoring production. The Trojans have too much talent and experience to struggle with maturity issues though, and should thrive regardless of who is on the court. USC is a legitimate Final Four contender.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Jordan McLaughlin, Senior, Guard, 12.9 points per game

De’Anthony Melton, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 points per game
Elijah Stewart, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Bennie Boatwright, Junior, Forward, 15.1 points per game
Chimezie Metu, Junior, Center, 14.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.2 (61th in nation, 5th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 73.1 (206, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (107, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.4 (157, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.9 (125, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (116, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.1 (58, 4)
Rebound Margin: 0.4 (181, 9)
Assists Per Game: 15.3 (62, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (27, 2)
Madness 2018 NBA Draft Rankings:
#21 Chimezie Metu
#34 De'Anthony Melton
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#45 Charles O'Bannon Jr.
#115 Jordan Usher