2003 Pac-10 Preview: USC

This is the second in a 10-part series profiling each of the Pac-10's basketball teams. Today, the USC Trojans are covered. After losing three key seniors to graduation, including 2002 Pac-10 Player of the Year Sam Clancy, USC will need contributions from its young talent as much as possible. In the end, however, it might just be too much to ask to replace Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville.

USC Trojans (Los Angeles, CA)
2001-02 record:
22-10 (12-6, Pac-10)
Lost, NCAA 1st round
Returning starters:

Projected Lineup: (*=returning starter; Incoming recruits in BOLD)
PG-Brandon Brooks, 6-0, 165 So. (14.7 ppg, 7.6 apg at Indian Hills CC as a Fr.)

SG-Errick Craven*, 6-2, 185 So. (11.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.1 spg, .450FG%, .324 3pt%)
G/F-Desmon Farmer, 6-4, 190 Jr. (9.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg as sixth man; 17.6 ppg last 5 gms)
PF-Jerry Dupree, 6-7, 200 Jr. (3.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 19 blks in 11.7 minutes per game)
C-Kostas Charissis*, 7-0, 250 Sr. (10 mpg and coming off of season-ending injury in '02)

Rory O'Neil, 6-11, 220 So. C (4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 21 blks in 13.4 mpg)
Robert Hutchinson, 6-1, 195 Sr. G (Fifth-year senior is a valuable reserve off the bench)
Jack Wolfinger, 6-11, 225 So. SF (Ventura CC transfer can play anywhere on wing)
Roy Smiley, 6-4, 195 Jr. SG (14.4 ppg, 3.7 apg at SE Iowa College last year)
Jonathan Oliver, 7-0, 230 So. F/C (Nicknamed "Gizmo", also from Ventura CC)

Nick Curtis, 6-8, 220 So. SF (Should get more playing time this season in the frontcourt)
Derrick Craven, 6-2, 185 So. SG (Errick's twin has shown improvement in offseason)
Gregg Guenther Jr., 6-8, 250 So. PF (Played sparingly off the bench in '02)

Recruiting class grade: C
--The two Juco teammates, Wolfinger and Oliver, will provide much needed size for the Trojans. Wolfinger can play shooting guard and both forward positions and has a nice inside-outside game while Oliver is more of a true big man who plays the four and five spots. Smiley is a good outside shooter with some size and should contribute immediately if he's ruled eligible.
Gem of the Class:
Brandon Brooks, PG
--The 2000 Oregon state Player of the Year from Portland's Jefferson High was ranked as America's No. 1 junior college point guard going into the 2002 season. However, a preseason knee injury ended his sophomore year prematurely after he transferred from Indian Hills (IA) CC to Compton CC. Brooks has exceptional quickness, plays solid defense and runs a team very well. He led his Jefferson High team to a 28-0 4A state championship in 2000 while averaging 21 points, nine assists and four steals per game.

*USC will make its third appearance in the John R. Wooden Classic this season when it takes on an expected top 10 Missouri team December 7th at the Pond in Anaheim. The Trojans beat Utah in 2000 and lost to Duke in 1999 in their other two trips to the Pond.
*Sophomores-to-be Derrick Craven, Nick Curtis and Rory O'Neil have had productive offseasons and their improvement should help soften the blow of losing the senior threesome of Sam Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville.

2003 Expectations:
--At the end of 2002, both Farmer and Dupree showed just how valuable it can be to have energizers coming off the bench. The last five games of the season saw Farmer score 88 points and dominate in the Pac-10 tournament. Dupree is a tremendous defender capable of guarding point guards to power forwards with his wingspan and shot blocking ability. Along with Errick Craven, those three should be the leaders of the 2003 team. With the way the Pac-10 will be wide open after Arizona, a particular team could finish anywhere from second to seventh and still be pretty good. Count USC among that group.

Pac-10 Projection: Sixth
Postseason chances:
NCAA bubble team

June 25, ASU http://www.arizona.theinsiders.com/2/52118.html
June 26, USC (today)
June 27, UCLA
June 28, Stanford
June 29, Cal
June 30, Oregon
July 1, Oregon State
July 2, Washington
July 3, Washington State

Ben Hansen can be reached via e-mail at AZPointGuardU@yahoo.com.

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