On Wednesday morning, USC announced it had given head basketball coach Andy Enfield a second two-year contract in as many years, pushing his current deal through the 2022-23 season. For the second year in a row, Enfield led the Trojans to the NCAA tournament after they had not previously made the field of 68 since 2011.
It was a record-setting season for USC. The Trojans set a school record with 26 wins and finished with a winning record in conference play for the first time since 2011. But it was also a sign of consistency as the Trojans improved for the fourth consecutive season since Enfield took over
"With Andy Enfield as our head coach, we have built consistency and stability in our men’s basketball program,” USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann said in a statement. “Extending Andy’s contract will allow that consistency and stability to continue. The record-setting season we just had is proof that Andy has established the USC program as an annual contender on the national level.”
USC went just 21-41 in Enfield's first two seasons and a woeful 5-31 in Pac-12 play, but the program's resurgence began last year when the Trojans won 15 of their first 18 games en route to a 21-13 season that included a first round tournament game against Providence. The Trojans had a great opportunity to win but let a late lead slip away.
This season, they avenged that loss, rallying from 17 points down in the second half to beat the Friars in the First Four round in Dayton, Ohio. USC built on that momentum and beat SMU for the second time this season, again rallying from 10+ points down -- making an even half and half of wins when they did and when they didn't trail by double digits.
It appeared the Trojans were following the double-digit comeback script perfectly against Baylor, but after rallying to take a lead, they were done in by Bears guard Manu Lecomte, who scored eight straight in 46 seconds and all 12 of his points in the final 4:39. Baylor pulled out an 82-78 victory.
"Our coaching staff is proud of our players’ development and accomplishments both in the classroom and on the court,” Enfield said in the school’s release. "With the core of veteran returnees and incoming talented freshmen, we are excited about the future of USC basketball."
If the Trojans return everyone, they could be a preseason top 15 team, but that could be a big "if."
Wing Shaqquan Aaron has already declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, but has not hired an agent, so he could still return. More imperative to USC's future success are forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright returning. Neither has stated whether he will enter the NBA draft, but associate head coach Tony Bland told Scout that "they're testing for sure."
Enfield earned the job at USC after leading Florida Gulf Coast to a historic NCAA tournament run as the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. His original contract was a six-year deal believed to be worth around $1.5 million per year. After two rough seasons, he's turned USC into a team on the rise in the Pac-12. He earned a two-year extension through the 2021 season after last year's tournament bid.
With the help of assistants Bland and Jason Hart USC has recruited very well, bringing in seven Scout Top 100 players in the last four classes, including Chuck O'Bannon Jr., the Trojans' first McDonalds All-American since DeMar DeRozan in 2008.
With the potential of every player returning along with the addition of Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. and a three-man recruiting class that includes O'Bannon, USC has the talent to compete for a Pac-12 title next season, if it can keep everyone together.
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