USC Men's Basketball Set For Trip To Italy Beginning Aug. 12|
Aug. 10, 2015
The USC men's basketball team is finishing up the preparation for a trip to Italy which begins on Aug. 12 and runs through Aug. 22. During the 11-day trip, USC will play three games and a scrimmage while visiting Lake Como, Milan, Venice, the Adriatic Coast and Rome. Included among the cultural highlights on the trip will be visiting St. Mark's Square in Venice, the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, an ancient Rome guided tour and a visit to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. USC's three exhibition games will be on Aug. 16 in Vicenza, Aug. 18 at Senigallia and Aug. 20 at Ferentino. Updates on the Trojans' 2015 Italian Tour can be found on the school's athletic website USCTrojans.com or on twitter @USC_Hoops.
Head Coach Andy Enfield on the trip --
"Our players, coaches and staff are looking forward to the trip to Italy. From a basketball standpoint, this affords our young team extra practice, a chance to learn to play together, improve their skills and work on game situations. The Italians have a strong and growing basketball tradition and we look forward to the great competition they will provide. The trip is so much more than just basketball, though. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow together as a Trojan family, learn about the Italian culture and visit some amazing historical sites. This trip will be a special learning experience for everyone involved in our program, both on and off the court."
The following is the 2015 Season Outlook for the USC men's basketball team. Guard Jordan McLaughlin and forward Strahinja Gavrilovic will make the trip, but are not medically cleared for game action as of yet. Transfer Shaqquan Aaron is not allowed to travel with the team due to NCAA rules
When Andy Enfield came to USC he made a conscious decision to build the program from the bottom up, bringing in high-level recruits and developing them for the future. The belief is that the future is now, despite still having only one senior on the roster. USC's core remains sophomore and junior laden, but they have had the opportunity to gain valuable experience, and the Trojans have added a pair of top 60 recruits in forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright which make up the freshman class.
USC's top nine scorers from the 2014-15 season return, led by redshirt junior guard Katin Reinhardt (6-6, 215). Reinhardt led USC in scoring with 12.5 points per game and was the team's top three-point threat, making 61 shots from beyond the arc. After sitting out a season following his transfer to USC from UNLV, Reinhardt had to shake off the rust, but kept improving throughout the season. In conference play, he averaged 13.5 points, shot 40.2 percent from three-point range and made 86.2 percent of his free throws. He scored in double-figures 20 times during the season, including scoring a career-high 35 and tying a USC record with nine three-pointers made in a triple-overtime loss to Colorado on Jan. 29.
Sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin (6-1, 170) had an outstanding freshman campaign, before it was cut short due to shoulder injuries. He had both his left and right shoulders repaired and it is believed that those problems which have hampered him since high school should be behind him now. McLaughlin was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team as he averaged 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He led the team in minutes played per game (31.6) and despite missing 10 games due to injury, was second in assists (100), steals (33) and free throws made (60) and third in three-pointers made (28). His 100 assists rank ninth on USC's all-time freshman single-season list and his 1.5 steals and 4.55 assists per game led all Pac-12 freshmen.
Elijah Stewart (6-5,180), another sophomore guard, showed flashes of brilliance in his first season. In the game at Boston College on Dec. 21, Stewart tied the school record for makes in a game without a miss by going 10-for-10 from the floor. He didn't really hit his stride until late in the season when he scored in double figures in six of USC's final eight games, averaging 13.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals to close out the season. He also became a force on the defensive end, registering a team-leading 37 blocks, sixth all-time by a USC freshman and tops for a guard. For the season, he averaged 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds, while finishing second in three-pointers made (37) and third in steals (31).
Junior guard Julian Jacobs (6-4, 180) continued to be a leader on and off the court as he served as the team's co-captain in 2014-15. He was fourth on the team in scoring with an 8.4 average, third in rebounding with a 4.3 average and led the team with 113 assists. His 3.5 assists per game ranked eighth among Pac-12 players and his shooting percentage of 50.2 was 11th. In conference play he upped his scoring average to 9.9 points per game, with 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
The fifth key returning guard is steady sophomore Malik Marquetti (6-6, 195). He played in all 32 games and made 15 starts as a freshman, while averaging 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. He ranked among the team's top five in assists (29), steals (22), three-pointers made (15) and total rebounds (86). In USC's final five games of the season, Marquetti averaged 7.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and shot 45.0 percent from three-point range (9-for-20).
Junior forward Nikola Jovanovic (6-11, 230) returns to anchor the Trojans' front court. Jovanovic averaged 12.3 points and a team-leading 7.0 rebounds per game. He ranked sixth in rebounding and eighth in field goal percentage (51.5 percent) among Pac-12 players. He was one of eight players in the Pac-12 to rank in the top 21 in scoring and rebounding and was one of two in that group to shoot over 50 percent from the floor. He scored in double figures in 22 of USC's 32 games, including 15 consecutive games from Nov. 25-Jan. 29. In the game on Jan. 29, he scored a career-high 30 points in the triple-overtime loss to Colorado. He also registered five double-doubles during the season. This summer he gained valuable experience by competing with the Serbian National Team at the World University Games in Gwangju City, South Korea.
Redshirt junior forward Darion Clark (6-7, 220) averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for USC last season, while serving as team co-captain. He played in all 32 games and started half of them. He scored in double figures five times and posted three games with 10 or more rebounds. He had two games with double-doubles, with 10 points and 14 rebounds vs. CS Fullerton on Nov. 25 and 12 points and 11 rebounds at New Mexico on Nov. 30.
Sophomore forward Malik Martin (6-11, 220) played in 29 games and made 15 starts as a freshman, averaging 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He led USC with a 52.4 shooting percentage and with third in blocks (22) and fourth in rebounds (105). He was also second on the team with 16 dunks. He scored in double figures five times and averaged 6.6 points over the final 12 games of the season.
The Trojans' lone senior on the squad is forward Strahinja Gavrilovic (6-9, 230). He has come a long way from his freshman season when he scored two points and played in six games. He averaged 4.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game off the bench for USC last season. He scored in double figures five times and registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. Penn State on Nov. 23. His season ended a few games before the Pac-12 Tournament with a shoulder injury and he had his right labrum surgically repaired, but is expected at full-strength for the opening of the 2015-16 campaign.
Newcomer forwards Metu (6-11, 215) and Boatwright (6-10, 220) should have an impact on the team right away. Metu was named the John R. Wooden Award winner as the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year as he averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game. He led his Lawndale High team to the CIF-SS 2AA final where they lost in double-overtime, despite 24 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks from Metu. He was a consensus top 50 recruit, ranking as the No. 31 prospect in the 2015 class by Scout.com, No. 47 by Rivals.com and No. 48 by ESPN.com.
The high-scoring Boatwright was the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year as he averaged 27.8 points and 13 rebounds per game for Village Christian High. He led his team to the Southern Section 1AA title by scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a 79-61 win over top-seeded Great Oak. Boatwright was also an L.A. Times All-Star selection, named to the Cal-High Sports All-State Elite second team and was the CIF co-Player of the Year in the California Division I voting. He was a top 60 recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. He scored a school-record 50 points in one game and nailed eight three-pointers in a game twice. He posted 10 games with 30 or more points and 27 games with 10 or more rebounds.
Also providing depth to the Trojans' frontcourt will be junior Samer Dhillon (6-7, 220). He played in four games last season, but did not find the scoring column. For the second consecutive season he posted the top GPA on the team and following the season was given the Ernie Holbrook Award as the team's most inspirational player.
Another guard on the Trojan roster is Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron (6-7, 175). He is expected to have a major impact, but will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to transfer rules and will have three seasons of competition remaining. Aaron is a former top 30 recruit from Rainier Beach High in Seattle where he averaged 19.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists as a senior and led his team to the Class 3A title for the second consecutive season. Aaron appeared in 23 games and made two starts last season for Louisville which advanced to the 2015 NCAA Elite Eight. He played in three of Louisville's four NCAA Tournament games and averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game during the season for the Cardinals. He had a season best of 11 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes at Wake Forest.
Coach Enfield has masterfully put the building blocks in place to prepare the USC men's basketball program for a strong future. The foundation has been laid and experience gained over the past two seasons, now the USC men's basketball team seems poised to show the results.
For USC men's basketball ticket information go to www.usctrojans.com/tickets or call 213-740-GO SC.