USC basketball entered the offseason with a conundrum. The Trojans had one open scholarship this season and have one senior graduating, but have a strong three-man recruiting class entering in the fall.
That isn't an issue any more.
Wednesday morning brought news of a Trojan transition, at least on the bench. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted the three aforementioned players were planning to transfer:
That was news to Marquetti. The Trojans' co-captain tweeted that he finished taking an exam only to see that his phone was blowing up about his supposed transfer:
Marquetti's high school coach soon confirmed the same:
While Marquetti appears to be staying at USC, the other Malik, 6-foot-11, 220-pound sophomore forward Malik Martin, confirmed that he was transferring. The Miami, Fla. native played in 27 games off the bench this season, averaging 6.6 minutes and 1.8 points. That was a precipitous decline from his freshman season when he averaged 5.2 points in 17.9 minutes. He played in 29 of the teams 32 games, starting more than half the time.
Clark, who has not responded to attempts to confirm his status with the Trojans, also saw his on-court time decline this season. The undersized 6-foot-7, 220-pound rebounding machine basically played half the minutes. He made 16 starts and played 22.0 minutes per game in 2014-15. This season, he averaged 11.1 minutes and did not start, but the redshirt junior was an integral piece off the USC bench. He brought toughness and a relentless motor to attack rebounds. The Trojans were also just 2-6 during the eight games Clark was unavailable after suffering a separated shoulder in practice that is likely to need offseason surgery.
The addition and emergence of freshmen Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu caused Clark and Martin's decline in playing time. Both players, along with second leading scorer Nikola Jovanovic, are expected to be back next year at the forward position. Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron will also be eligible and could see some time at the 4. Clark and Martin would likely see similar or even lessened roles next season, depending on the lineups Andy Enfield uses and the progression and impact of incoming forward Harrison Henderson.
According to Rothstein, Clark will graduate and therefore can transfer and be eligible immediately for his final season. Martin will have to sit out a season due to transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility remaining. Moving back closer to home on the East Coast could be a possibility, but Martin said he would be looking for the best fit regardless of location.
Could Andy Enfield also be destined for another school? According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USC's head coach is one of several candidates that Pitt has identified and attempted to reach out to determine if there is any interest.
Would Enfield leave? That is unknown. Why would Enfield consider a school like Pitt? He is a Shippensburg, Pennsylvania native. Shippensburg and Pittsburgh are on opposite ends of the state so it would not quite be the hometown return, but it is an are of the country where he does have plenty of ties.
There is also the allure of coaching in the nation's top conference. The ACC produced a record number of Sweet 16 teams this season and thriving traditional powers Duke and North Carolina give a young coach an opportunity for plenty of national exposure with a couple of upsets.
Previously Prized Pastner
Before Enfield was hired at USC, athletic director Pat Haden is believed to have his eyes set on another young, rather inexperienced coach that had a very strong 2012-13 season. Memphis won 31 games under head coach Josh Pastner and had a top recruiting class lined up. Apparently, Haden liked what he saw:
Haden wanted Pastner. He offered him a six-year contract for $3.6 million a year and a $1 million interest-free loan, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
That comes from The Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins in Memphis where Pastner has become a coach that is keeping his job only because he is too expensive to get rid of. Memphis would reportedly have to pay Pastner a $10.6-million buyout -- the largest in college basketball history -- to ship him out.
It's amazing how different things end up when you don't get your first choice head coach...especially at USC.
Darion Clark has confirmed on his Twitter that he will not return to play for USC next season: