Busting Brackets

USC Basketball: Trojans set for glitzy final year in the Pac-12

Dec 11, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sierra Canyon High School guard Bronny James looks on against Perry High School at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sierra Canyon High School guard Bronny James looks on against Perry High School at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

USC Basketball only has one year of basketball left in the Pac-12 Conference. Andy Enfield’s program is certainly going out with pizzazz.

In the past few days, the Trojans landed both a highly-scrutinized recruit and a former conference foe to further load up the roster. Both of their new additions are sons of some of the most notable players in NBA history.

The name everyone knows is Bronny James, son of one of the three greatest players in the history of the sport, LeBron James. King James’ namesake is not quite the same player as the Los Angeles Lakers star – and nobody should expect him to be – but he should be able to make an impact as a freshman.

DJ Rodman, Dennis’ son, joined the party days later, deciding to transfer from Washington State to USC to take advantage of his extra year of eligibility. He averaged 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a full-time starter for the Cougars last year.

Will the high-profile additions prove to be more style or substance?

Following the additions of Bronny James and DJ Rodman, how do the USC Trojans look compared to the rest of the Pac-12?

The two recent additions are high profile, but neither ranks as the top development of the offseason for the Trojans. Both the returning cast and a different new addition should inspire more confidence in USC this season.

First, the returns. Boogie Ellis is back for what seems like his 21st season of college basketball and should be one of the best players in the Pac-12. Last year, the guard averaged 17.7 points per game, which led the program.

Not enough attention is being cast on the return of two other players, Kobe Johnson and Joshua Morgan. They are the epitome of “defense wins championships,” both placing on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team last year.

While James brings the attention, Isaiah Collier brings the skills. The point guard is one of the top prospects in the country, drawing offers from UCLA, Alabama, and Beyond. The pass-first guard could be the best player on the Trojans.

That could be part of the reason the James addition won’t make the impact all the headlines would have a reader believer. James is not going to start for this team. He’ll be in the rotation, but his night-to-night impact will be somewhat limited.

The addition of Rodman helps with depth on the wing, but there’s still a dearth of big men on the roster. A heart issue and back problems foiled Vincent Iwuchukwu last year. If he can stay healthy, he can be a solid backup to Morgan, who is more defensive-focused than offensive. Still a big “if,” though.

Bringing in Rodman and James is certainly exciting. This is the most buzz the Trojans have had on the hardwood in more than a decade, since the days of OJ Mayo and DeMar DeRozan.

The biggest winner may actually be the conference USC is soon to depart. The Pac-12 has had its moments recently, particularly with Arizona and UCLA, but hasn’t received as much attention as other power conferences. The USC and UCLA rivalry is going to provide some required viewing for fans across the country.

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As long as the Lakers, Bruins, and LA Clippers hold up their end of the bargain, it should be another special season of hoops in Los Angeles next year. This time, the USC Trojans will be right in the thick of it.