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Pac-12 Basketball: Preseason power rankings for 2021-22 season

UCLA Bruins celebrate during the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.Ncaa Basketball Ncaa Tournament Alabama Vs Ucla
UCLA Bruins celebrate during the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.Ncaa Basketball Ncaa Tournament Alabama Vs Ucla /
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Pac-12 Basketball USC Trojans forward Isaiah Mobley Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Pac-12 Basketball USC Trojans forward Isaiah Mobley Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

. Trojans . 3. team. 519. .

The Trojans and Andy Enfield reached their potential last season as the Trojans, something that hadn’t necessarily been easy over the coach’s time in south Los Angeles. Thanks in large part to the phenomenal year of Evan Mobley, winner of the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year.

Mobley was the cog of a 6th ranked defense in KenPom and was an otherworldly shot-blocker while also leading the team in scoring. He left after his freshman year for the NBA and the second leading scorer Tahj Eaddy graduated, leaving the Trojans in a tough spot to repeat their approach in 2021-2022.

Luckily for USC, the rest of the cast remained intact, with the remaining six leading scorers returning this season. Mobley’s older brother Isaiah Mobley will take on a bigger role and try to take on some of the possessions that greatly benefitted the one-and-done. Isaiah does not have his brother’s shot contesting skills nor his offensive arsenal, but it’s a bit unfair to hold him to the expectations of one of the best defensive centers in recent memory.

Isaiah had a promising sophomore season that saw him fill out his game by the Trojans’ tournament run. He was 10 for 15 from outside in both the conference and NCAA tournament and averaged 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds. If Mobley continues to develop his game he could be one of the best power forwards in the country and a potential Pac-12 Player of the Year recipient.

The biggest factor for whether the Trojans can replicate last season’s success is the play of the team’s backcourt. The loss of Eaddy might be an underrated factor as the Trojans do not have a great amount of ball-handling depth, let alone Eaddy’s production as a shooter. Ethan Anderson served as the backup point guard last season and had a tough time filling the hoop, shooting 38% from the field while averaging 2.7 assists and 1.8 turnovers.

The best returning guard and scoring threat is senior Drew Peterson, who will likely be asked to replace some of the offensive usage lost by Mobley and Eaddy. Peterson shot 38.5% from outside last year and offers impressive length at 6-foot-9.

A lot of the guard play’s potential rests on Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis who could be asked to do some primary ball-handling as well as be a major scorer. Ellis averaged 38% from three last season and averaged 10.2 assists. If Ellis replicates Eaddy’s production–or even takes another step and exceeds it–the Trojans could be in the conversation for best in the conference.