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.
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. Read the rest of this entry »