The Andy Enfield era has been chalk-full of talent, and this year is no different. Over the past several seasons, Enfield's recruiting prowess has produced a steady flow of electric players. This season, USC will miss several key playmakers from last year's squad – most notably Chimezie Metu, Jordan McLaughlin and the shooting and athleticism of Elijah Stewart – but will also debut members of the 15th ranked recruiting class of 2018.
Freshmen Kevin Porter Jr. and J'Raan Brooks, who played against one another at rival Seattle high schools Rainier Beach and Garfield, highlight the impressive incoming class along with guard Elijah Weaver.
Weaver, who was set to shoulder much of the point guard role with junior transfer Derryck Thornton, injured his left ankle in August during an offseason workout. The Florida native had surgery and will likely return during pre-conference play in late November.
Thornton is the only other true point guard besides Weaver, which leaves uncertainty for the Trojans at the position. The team possesses plenty of talent at the wing positions, but it is unclear who will be tasked with handling the ball with Thornton while Weaver recovers.
Thornton played limited minutes last year behind McLaughlin and was not exactly impressive in those minutes. He will need to come into his own this season in order for the Trojans to be successful.
Luckily for USC, Thornton is surrounded by a plethora of offensive weapons. Senior sharpshooter Bennie Boatwright is returning from a knee injury and can create offense as well as anyone in the Pac-12. Other returning players like Jordan Usher, Shaqquan Aaron, and Nick Rakocevic will help to guide the flow of a potentially dynamic scoring attack.
Having one of the most athletic players in college basketball doesn't hurt the Trojans' cause either. With potent agility and impressive bounce, Kevin Porter Jr. is a matchup nightmare for any team the Trojans face.
The Trojans have all the pieces to score in bunches, but their defense remains a question mark. Losing Metu hurts their inside presence, and injuries may force them to play zone more often than Coach Enfield would prefer.
The season begins next Tuesday against Robert Morris at the Galen Center, and questions still remain about what to expect out of the team. There is certainly enough talent for a run at the Pac-12 title and perhaps some madness in March, but talent guarantees nothing. This season will be an extreme test of Andy Enfield's ability to coach. He has proven himself as a gifted recruiter, but this year's team requires an extra amount of guidance and expertise in order to succeed.
Enfield can move his team to the upper echelon with a solid season this year. He currently has the No. 1 ranked recruiting class lined up for the 2019 season, but can elevate his team to the next level and snag one of the nation's top-10 2019 recruits with a conference title run this year.
The Trojans will be on an interesting journey this year. Expect a lot, but don't write them off when early mistakes happen.
The Men's Basketball team will play their first game of the season against Robert Morris next Tuesday, November 6th at 8 p.m. at the Galen Center.