USC Men's Basketball: A Secret Success Story
July 25, 2013
One of the biggest secrets in the collegiate basketball world is that USC has quietly risen towards the top of the industry in preparing players for a basketball career. The USC basketball program continues to develop some of the top talent in the country as evident by its five current NBA players and five first-round draft picks in the past seven seasons. In fact, USC's first-round selections in the NBA Draft over the past seven seasons are tied for the ninth-most among all schools in the past seven years. That's right, more than schools like Arizona, Georgetown, UConn, Louisville, Memphis and Michigan...just to name a few.
This year Trojan fans will have a special treat as one of the USC all-time greats Nick Young (2007) has signed on to play for the Lakers, just down the street from the Galen Center where he first showed off his talents. Young has averaged 11.3 points per game in his five-year NBA career and now joins his boyhood favorite team, just a stone throw from his Trojan roots.
Forward Nikola Vucevic (2011) really blossomed in his second NBA season, averaging a double-double while playing for the Orlando Magic last year. Vucevic scored 13.1 points and grabbed 11.9 rebounds per game, the second-highest rebound average in the league.
DeMar DeRozan (2009) is the cornerstone to the young Toronto Raptors team which made big strides in the second half of the last NBA season and just missed making the playoffs. The budding star DeRozan averaged 18.1 points per game last season, 17th-best in the league.
Taj Gibson (2009) continues to be a vital piece in the Chicago Bulls system and averaged 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. His defensive abilities, shot-blocking and rebounding help to keep the Bulls as one of the NBA's elite defensive teams.
Trojans from last year's team went undrafted, but caught scouts' eyes nonetheless and earned invitations to play on NBA summer league teams. Eric Wise played for Orlando in the Orlando Summer League, Dewayne Dedmon played for Miami in the Orlando Summer League and for Dallas in the Las Vegas Summer League. Renaldo Woolridge, a 2013 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest finalist, also played for the Lakers in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Another avenue where Trojan basketball brethren have succeeded is on the international scene which is where Jio Fontan headed immediately following the 2012-13 campaign. Fontan was drafted in the 2013 Puerto Rican basketball draft and played for San German where he averaged 6.2 points and 1.8 assists in 18 games. Another 2012-13 teammate Aaron Fuller is currently in the process of selecting a team to play for overseas.
Daniel Hackett (2009) continues to flourish in his native Italy and last season lead his Montepaschi Siena team to the league title, earning the MVP award for the finals. Dwight Lewis (2010) continues to play in Venezuela for Trotamundos de Carabobo where he averaged 13.1 points per game this past season. Davon Jefferson (2008) continues to flourish overseas, last season playing for Enisey in Russia and averaging 11. 7 points, his fifth consecutive season in double figures.
New head coach Andy Enfield looks to build off the successes of the past decade and take the program to a new level. With his up-tempo offense and winning experiences, one of the top venues in the country the Galen Center to play in and a highly regarded young coaching staff, it is likely that USC basketball will no longer be a secret success story.