Pac-12 Burning Questions: How Good Can USC’s Chimezie Metu Be?

Posted by Adam Butler on November 9th, 2016

It’s perhaps strange to consider Chimezie Metu the hottest topic out of the Galen Center and perhaps I’m wrong on this one. Such is the case with preseason prognosticating. But consider that the Trojans – a team that attended the 2016 Dance – have many of the right pieces already in place and developed to cover for the departures of Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic. I find Metu perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the Pac-12. Jacobs was a first team conference performer last year in leading the conference in assists. And while I don’t love to play the game of “how to replace a singular talent,” Elijah Stewart has long felt poised to become an elite scorer while Louisville transfer Shaqquan Arron could very well have that guard productivity covered (after all, he was a top-30 recruit in 2014). The frontcourt is well-positioned to also see a sophomore bump out of Benny Boatright, a stretch four who shot a cool 37 percent from beyond the arc while posting competitive-but-not-great rebounding numbers (get in there big fella!). Losing Jovanovic to the Draft, therefore, left the Trojans with their biggest gap at the biggest position. Enter: Metu.

Chimezie Metu. (Shotgun Spratling/uscfootball.com)

Chimezie Metu Returns to Show What He Can Do at USC. (Shotgun Spratling/uscfootball.com)

He’s a fantastic athlete who has shown bursts of remarkable ability. As freshmen go, of course, they were indeed just bursts. He could play the role of big body this season, filling space and continuing those flashes or dominant presence, controlling the paint and altering anything in the lane. If it’s the former (body), I still like these Trojans as a top-of-the-league competitive and in the dogfight for an NCAA bid (two straight). If it’s the latter, however, with Metu as a nightly double-double threat and protecting the rim like he’s demonstrated (seriously, 8.2 percent block rate… but 5.2 fouls per 40 minutes), then the Trojans begin to feel like an NCAA lock with a shot at a top-three finish.

And why is this critical? This is Andy Enfield’s fourth year in town. It’s the year a lot of us felt would be Enfield’s return to the NCAA Tournament as he’d have a veteran McLaughlin (still got it!), seniors Jacobs and Jovanovic (gone), and a nice recruiting record (still got it!). Losing a veteran presence shook that up and losing a lot of basketball games down the stretch last year dulls both expectations and optimism. How good can this program really get to? USC was 18-5 and ranked #21 nationally at midseason. Fight on! But from that point forward — after being swept in Arizona in mid-February — USC lost eight of its final 11 games. College sports are about as what-have-you-done-for-me-lately as sports can get and the last few things we’ve seen from USC suggest a negative trend. Of course that’s what offseasons are for, clean slates and such. We can’t enter a season with last March’s bitterness still completely on our tongues. But it’s also no secret that Enfield is a young coach who has cut his teeth and perhaps earned his grit in some very different ways than other similarly situated coaches. That’s neither right nor wrong, as he was a successful player too, but this is the first time he’s been a fourth-year coach. This feels like a great opportunity to see what he’s learned and the type of coach he will be.

Adam Butler (23 Posts)


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