Oct. 4, 2016
This week marks the official start of the 2016-17 women's basketball season, and the Women of Troy are ready to hit the ground running with all 14 members of USC's roster checking in for duty for practice numero uno on Wednesday (Oct. 5). Eight returning Trojans have welcomed a strong set of newcomers, with six Women of Troy set to clock in for their first minutes in a USC uniform this season. Under the direction of Trojan great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who enters her fourth season at the helm, the USC women look to battle back to the top of the pack.
The first thing opponents will notice about the 2016-17 Trojans is their size. USC opens the year with five players standing 6-foot-3 or taller -- a first for any USC roster in program history. In the past two decades, no USC roster has had more than three players with that kind of height. Such a notable influx will significantly up the Trojans' post presence, and bring some key balance to their gameplan to pair with its returning backcourt savvy.
There's plenty of experience coming back to aid the Trojan cause this season. Redshirt senior Jordan Adams pairs with fellow seniors Courtney Jaco and Alexis Lloyd while juniors Sadie Edwards and Kristen Simon will continue the upward trajectory they set off on as sophomores. True sophomores Aliyah Mazyck, Candela Abejón and Marguerite Effa now have a year of competition under their belts to help anchor a powerful blend of talent on the Trojan roster for 2016-17. Redshirt freshman forward Dani Milisic will check in for her first action as a Trojan this season alongside true freshmen Minyon Moore, Valerie Higgins, Asiah Jones and Ja'Tavia Tapley, while USC welcomes the savvy and skill of grad student transfer Ivana Jakubcova. USC's supersized post presence is comprised of 6-foot-6 Jakubcova, 6-4 Milisic and a trio of 6-3 youngsters in Effa, Jones and Tapley.
The team got an early dose of experience together this summer with a trip to Italy, where the Trojans combined incredible cultural experiences with valuable game action against several international squads. Now, the Women of Troy take their training to the domestic level as they look to a competitive 2016-17 campaign.
With a fully loaded roster, USC aims to improve on last year's 19-13 mark and make some noise in the Pac-12 Conference and beyond. Three years ago, the Trojans won the Pac-12 Tournament Championship for the first time in program history and got back to the NCAA Tournament after several years of near misses. Three members of that 2014 squad remain and those veterans -- Adams, Jaco and Lloyd -- look to help lead their 2016-17 team to another postseason appearance as they wrap their Trojan careers this season.
Here's a quick look at each of the Women of Troy and what they bring to the table for USC's 2016-17 campaign...
1 Jordan Adams | RS-SR Guard
Adams enters her fifth year with the Trojans, standing tall as USC's most veteran player and possible its most versatile athlete. Able to play the point and the perimeter, as well as hit the boards with authority, the 6-1 redshirt senior averaged 7.7 rebounds and 12.8 points per game as she helped USC to its hot start in the 2015-16 season. Adams started all 12 games in USC's 12-0 start to last season, which marked the most successful season start for the USC women since 1982-83.
2 Ivana Jakubcova | SR Center
Jakubcova joins the Trojans as a transfer, closing out her eligibility as a grad student at USC after serving two seasons at Kentucky. A 6-6 center who has significant range on her shot, the native of Slovakia brings an extra dimension to the USC gameplan as well as a wealth of experience and smarts.
3 Minyon Moore | FR Guard
A Bay Area product, freshman guard Moore boasts serious ball-handling skills as well as the ability to distribute and create. Her physical strength makes her tough to contain on the offensive end and tough to get past on the defensive end, and the freshman stands to make an impact in the backcourt for the Women of Troy.
5 Ja'Tavia Tapley | FR Forward
An athletic addition to the paint, Tapley has great leaping ability. An all-state first-teamer as a senior out of Jacksonville, Fla., Tapley adds an extra element of size and skill to the USC lineup as she digs in for her freshman season at Troy.
10 Courtney Jaco | SR Guard
Jaco enters her final season at Troy as USC's No. 5 all-time 3-point shooter, having nailed 145 threes in her USC career to date. She also is the Trojans' fourth most productive shooter from behind the arc, as she hits at a 37.9 percent from 3-point range. The sharpshooter's backcourt savvy landed her All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last year as the 5-8 guard averaged 10.1 points per game for the Trojan cause.
13 Marguerite Effa | SO Forward
A finisher in the paint, Effa settles in for her second season as a Trojan. With a year under her belt, the 6-3 sophomore forward brings back her length and athleticism to give USC an added dose of depth down low.
14 Sadie Edwards | JR Guard
Now fully entrenched as a Trojan, 5-10 guard Sadie Edwards enters her second season of competition with the Women of Troy. A midseason transfer from UConn in 2014, Edwards will engage in her first full season of action at USC. In her 22 games played last year, Edwards impressed in providing 11.3 points per game while dishing out 1.5 assists per game and nabbing 1.5 steals per game. A talented junior with a nose for the hoop, Edwards is primed to shine in 2016-17.
21 Aliyah Mazyck | SO Guard
Another sophomore with a key season of work now under her belt, Mazyck enters 2016-17 with a wealth of potential to make a real impact in the USC backcourt. A 5-9 guard with no fear and no qualms about attacking the hoop, Mazyck also has shown she can pull up a nail a three when necessary. She averaged 7.8 points and 2.0 assists per game as a freshman.
22 Valerie Higgins | FR Guard
Higgins got gold-medal experience overseas last summer as a member of the U.S. Under-18 National Team that won it all at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championships. An all-around talent, the 6-0 freshman guard was the SoCal Player of the Year and stands to be a difference-maker for the Women of Troy. Skilled in practically every aspect of the game, the versatile Higgins will be a key to success for USC in 2016-17.
23 Asiah Jones | FR Forward
Another power player in the paint for USC is Jones, who comes to Troy from South Carolina. Standing tall at 6-3 with length and leaping ability, Jones gets the Trojans some much-needed depth down low as she enters the start of her USC career.
25 Alexis Lloyd | RS-SR Guard
Lloyd played her first season at Virginia Tech but soon made the switch to USC and played her first season as a Trojan in 2014-15. Now, Lloyd stands out as one of four Women of Troy in their final season at USC. A Chicago native, Lloyd started 15 games for USC last year and has shown herself as a spark for the Trojans. Her strength and vision keeps Lloyd very much in the mix as a role player and contributor for USC on both ends of the court.
30 Candela Abejón | SO Guard
Spanish product Abejón adds to USC's battalion of guards with size, backing up the Trojan backcourt with her 6-1 frame and ability to score from distance. After one season of work with the Women of Troy, Abejón stands out as a hard-working teammate who will play an increased role for the Trojans in 2016-17.
32 Dani Milisic | RS-FR Forward
Australian import Milisic is slated for her first official action as a Trojan this season after redshirting last year. A midseason addition to the Trojan roster in 2015-16, Milisic is another one to watch in the paint. A 6-4 forward, Milisic adds serious size and strength to USC's gameplan, which is taller and deeper than ever before. A former member of Australia's Under-16 and Under-17 squads, Milisic has the smarts and the skill to stand tall for USC throughout her Trojan career.
35 Kristen Simon | JR Forward
With an influx of height in the paint, Simon may stand an inch or two shorter than her fellow Trojan post players but few can match her strength and tenacity on the block. Simon came into her own last year as a sophomore, dominating down low and emerging as USC's second leading rebounder with 8.0 boards per game while contributing 10.7 points per game for the Trojan offense. Now a junior, the 6-2 Simon will remain a reliable impact player for the Women of Troy this season.