The USC Trojans added star-studded freshmen to replace those who moved on in the transfer portal and to the NBA.
As is tradition, CBB Review again ranks the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. We will reveal the next team each day until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.
After landing three top-tiered freshmen, coach Andy Enfield grabbed a prominent player from the portal in DJ Rodman. He needed to do so after losing Drew Peterson to the NBA and two other starters to the portal. Getting the best freshman in the recruiting class, Isaiah Collier was also the highest-ranked point guard—the talented incoming big in Arrinten Page and the biggest splash came in Bronny James. On a very talented team, there is significant upside for this team. With the challenges of adding new players, Enfield will be tasked with making this a team instead of individual talents.
Unfortunately, after a health scare, Bronny James was rushed to a hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest in July. At the hospital, it was discovered he had a congenital heart defect. James has since fully recovered from surgery and started rehab, hoping to play with the Trojans this year. He will likely be an immediate contributor as a potential sixth man after the health scare.
Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.
Head coach: Andy Enfield (13th season, 11th at USC)
2022-23 record: 22-11 (14-6)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to Michigan State, 72-62, in first round of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Drew Peterson (NBA), Reese Dixon-Waters (Transferred to San Diego State), Tre White (Transferred to Louisville), Malik Thomas (Transferred to San Francisco Dons)
Notable nonconference games: vs. Kansas State (Nov. 6), vs. Seton Hall (Nov. 23), vs. Gonzaga (Dec. 2), at Auburn (Dec. 17)
PG: Isaiah Collier (6-5, 190, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 2 rated recruit
SG: Boogie Ellis (6-3, 180, Gr.Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 38.6 3P%
SF: Kobe Johnson (6-5, 170, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.2 SPG, 36.0 3P%
PF: DJ Rodman (6-6, 215, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 9.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 38.1 3P% (Washington State)
C: Arrinten Page (6-11, 220, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 57 rated recruit
6: Bronny James (6-6, 190, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 27 rated recruit
7: Joshua Morgan (6-11, 195, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 7.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 2.2 BPG. 58.2 FG%
8: Oziyah Sellers (6-5, 185, So.)
2022-23 stats: 1.1 PPG, 0.2 RPG, 0.2 APG, 0.1 SPG
9: Vince Iwuchukwu (7-1, 235, So.)
2022-23 stats: 5.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.0 BPG, 50.9 FG%
10: Kijani Wright (6-9, 235, So.)
2022-23 stats: 1.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.3 APG
11: Harrison Hornery (6-9, 210, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 1.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.2 APG
12: Brandon Gardner (6-8, 210, Fr.)
247Sports No. 93 rated recruit
USC Trojan’s MVP: Boogie Ellis
Unsurprisingly, that All-Pac-12 first team in 2022-2023 and preseason Pac-12 first team player Boogie Ellis is set to retain USC’s most valuable player. With his experience of getting an extra year due to COVID-19, this experienced player will be considered a leader. Ellis was also the scoring leader for this team last year. He ranked at the top in a few of the conference categories. Ellis was second in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6%), third in total points (583), fourth in points per game (17.7), fifth in free throw percentage (80.5%), sixth in steals (46), and seventh in steals per game (1.4). The list only gets longer when looking at advanced stats.
Ellis has some younger players who will get time and look to him this year. He will be able to dominate and likely increase this team’s offense with the new talent. Ellis remains as his competitors have moved on to the NBA or graduation. At the same time, he is still trying to carve out a role and become a better player suited for the NBA. This team could quickly become the number-one team in the Pac-12.
USC Trojan’s make-or-break player: DJ Rodman
DJ Rodman is coming in to replace Tre White and Reese Dixon-Waters. When looking at the stats, he is like a mixture of these two players. Suppose Rodman can switch between these two spots and be a boost offensively. He is coming to fill a hole and bring along Brandon Gardner as his eventual replacement or substitute. The style of play, Rodman is a forward, and it is seen in his ball handling as he had turnover issues last year. If he can slow down, the sky is the limit. Rodman should have more opportunities as this team will be focused on tempo and creating shots in space and off breakaways.
There is a lot of responsibility here for DJ Rodman. There are high expectations, and the team hopes he has grown over the summer and with the team. The worry is that Rodman’s skill set won’t fulfill the team’s needs and that he could struggle in learning the system. Coming from a Pac-12 team with a different philosophy, changes are coming, and he is needed for this team’s success to make a run.
Key analytic: Defensive Rebounding
Outside of the 3-point rate, the biggest issue the USC Trojans can easily change and focus on is defensive rebounding. This team was ranked 330th in defensive rebounding last season. This year, coach Enfield concentrated on getting in some more prominent players. With these bigger players, the opportunities should be increased. With the incoming freshman, this team should have the chance and have a nose for the ball with something to prove. With some better 3-point shooters, both weaknesses could move up quickly.
USC Trojan’s 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 2nd in the Pac-12
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Elite 8 Exit