Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
Choosing a university to play college basketball at should have been one of the more difficult decision's in highly-recruited Byron Wesley's life.
But USC's prized gem of the Class of 2011 knew early on that Troy was the place for him.
"I committed here early on in my junior year," Wesley said. "The coaches were all recruiting me really tough, but I felt like I had a good relationship with Kevin O'Neill and the rest of the coaching staff. The deciding factor though, was when I went on my unofficial visit and saw the campus, met the players and just had a great time. I knew from then on I wanted to be a Trojan."
After taking a look at his high school highlight reels, it's easy to see why USC was so thrilled to sign an offensive threat from the small forward position like Wesley (averaged 19.5 points per game his senior year). At six-foot-five, the freshman is a prime target on the fast break, can get to the basket with a variety of dribble-drive penetration moves and forces opposing defenses to guard him tightly on the perimeter in catch and shoot scenarios.
While that may be all well and good, the former Etiwanda Eagles' star will dawn the Cardinal and Gold uniform for his defensive-minded head coach for two reasons.
"I think I can fit in really well," said Wesley. "I can make a big contribution to the team whether it's with my defense or my rebounding."
Although the freshman continues to work on his jump shot (both from a consistency and range standpoint), it's his body frame, long arms and polished court awareness at the defensive end, that will make him an instant hit with his coach and USC fans.
Not surprisingly, Wesley (who has been compared to the Lakers' Ron Artest) expects this year's team to win the Pac-12 title and to make a solid run in the NCAA Tournament. However, it's the goal he has for himself as a Trojan that might surprise people.
"I want to get a degree here in business and a minor in film," said Wesley candidly on his personal expectations. "I took an Economy class my senior year, and it was really interesting and caught my eye. I think I might want to be an accountant someday so business can help with that."
While the Trojans' season-opener is still over four months away, Wesley can't wait to begin his collegiate career in what is more or less his own backyard (lives in nearby Fontana,CA).
"It's all just a blessing," said Wesley on getting to play in front of family and friends. "I know it's a big stage, but that has never scared me before. I want USC fans to see how hard I play and to know that just because I am freshman doesn't mean I can't compete with other college players."
(Photo by ESPN LA)