USC Week: Reinforcements Arrive Among Seven NewcomersPosted by AMurawa on July 4th, 2012
Coupled with the three players that the Trojans get back from season-ending injuries last season, Kevin O’Neill welcomes in four newly-eligible Division I transfers, two scholarship freshmen, and a walk-on freshman. This means that the USC team that finished off last season with an opening-round Pac-12 tourney loss to UCLA will bear almost no resemblance to the team that tips off the 2012-13 season in November. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those seven newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.
- J.T. Terrell, Junior, Guard, 6’3” 185 lbs, Wake Forest – Terrell played his freshman season as Wake Forest, scoring 11.1 points per game and finishing second on the team in scoring. But, two months before his sophomore season was to begin, he got busted for a DWI and decided to leave the school. He attended Peninsula College in Washington last season and averaged 24.4 points per game on his way towards earning the rating of the best junior college player in America (according to Swannys Roundball Review). In his single season with the Demon Deacons, Terrell showed a great fondness for shooting the ball, taking nearly 30% of his team’s field goal attempts while he was on the floor, but hitting only 38.8% of those. He showed improvement last season at the JuCo level, making 48% of his attempts from the field, but with this Trojan team featuring plenty of capable scorers, Terrell needs to show that he can be an effective offensive player even when not getting all the looks he wants.
- Ari Stewart, Junior, Small Forward, 6’7” 205 lbs, Wake Forest – Stewart’s freshman season at Wake Forest came a year prior to Terrell’s, but they were remarkably similar. Like Terrell, Stewart took almost 30% of his team’s shots while on the floor (albeit in fewer minutes) and made just 37.5% of those. His sophomore season showed some signs of improvement as he became more judicious with his attempts and as a result shot a higher percentage, but for a guy who shoots a ton of threes, his percentage from behind the arc dipped from a solid 37.1% to a woeful 27.4%. Still, Stewart showed a new side to his game as a sophomore, taking on more of a ball-handling role and actually dishing out some assists; unfortunately, a big bump up in turnovers accompanied that change. At USC, he likely won’t be needed to do a whole lot of handling, but he will be asked to knock down the three from the corner and from the wing. He’ll at least need to bounce back to his freshman year efficiency to live up to expectations.
- Eric Wise, Senior, Forward, 6’6” 240 lbs, UC Irvine – Wise spent three seasons playing for the Anteaters, but the undersized forward will wrap up his collegiate career playing a little further north against better competition. Wise led UCI in scoring in his freshman and sophomore seasons and he became the first player in 37 years to lead UCI in scoring, rebounding and assists his second season there. He’s got a polished mid-range game and a tough body inside, but his listing at 6’6” is probably generous and that could be a drawback as he takes a step up. Wise, however, is used to playing against strong competition as his high school team featured NBA lottery pick Kawhi Leonard and current New Mexico wing Tony Snell. Better yet, not only was Wise the best player on that team, he was the CIF Southern Section Division I Player of the Year as a senior. It remains to be seen exactly what role Wise will play on this team, as he is most comfortable creating in the lane but may struggle against the bigger competition in the Pac-12. Still, he is a very talented player and will likely find some way to earn minutes and make a big contribution for the Trojans.
- Renaldo Woolridge, Senior, Forward, 6’9” 220 lbs, Tennessee – Woolridge came onto the scene four seasons ago for the Volunteers and made a big splash early, earning a starting role early in his freshman campaign. He scored 14 points and grabbed six boards in an Old Spice Classic opening round win over Siena that put the youngster with the famous basketball lineage on the radar of fans across the country. Only three more times over the course of his next 89 games in Knoxville (including one medical redshirt year) did he scored as many points in a game and only nine times did he grab as many rebounds. But hey, his music career is going great, right? Still, he’s a big body with talent, and if he’s got the desire to play basketball at a high level, he could make an impact for the Trojans. If not, well, at least he’s in Los Angeles.
- Strahinja Gavrilovic, Freshman, Forward, 6’8” 225 lbs, Rock Academy, Kragujevac, Serbia – Gavrilovic is a relative unknown, for despite the fact that he spent his senior year of high school at Rock Academy in San Diego, he did not play basketball there. He did, however, play for the Serbian U-18 two summers ago. He’s a European big who can knock down the jumper, make the extra pass, and also compete in the paint and on the glass. He’s not a great athlete and may have trouble guarding small forwards at the next level, but offensively could be ready to contribute right away.
- Brendyn Taylor, Freshman, Guard, 6’2” 185 lbs, Fairfax High School, Los Angeles, CA – The brother of former Oregon guard Bryce Taylor, Brendyn has the reputation of a serious athlete who is only a jump shot away from breaking out. He’s currently regarded as a combo guard, and certainly shouldn’t expect to earn minutes at the point ahead of either Jio Fontan or Maurice Jones, but could blossom into a point guard later in his college career. Still, on athleticism alone, he could break into the rotation as early as this season.
- Chass Bryan, Freshman, Point Guard, 5’9”, 165 lbs, Oaks Christian High School, Oak Park, CA – Bryan walks on as the final member of the 2012 class, and likely won’t play a whole lot right away, but O’Neill thinks Bryan can eventually earn a role in his program. Despite his size, he is a pure point who can be a pestering defender. Don’t expect to hear his name this season, but keep his name in the back of your mind for future years.