USC Trojans

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Bennie Boatwright #25 of the USC Trojans is defended by Monmouth Hawks players during the game at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

USC expecting to be without Boatwright for “a while” after suspected MCL injury

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USC is expecting to be without one of its leading scorers from some time.

Bennie Boatwright suffered what is believed to be an MCL injury in the Trojans’ 76-55 win over San Diego on Wednesday night. The severity of the injury was immediately unknown with Boatwright scheduled to get an MRI on Thursday, coach Andy Enfield told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Zach Helfand.

“He’ll certainly be out for a while,” Enfield said, per Helfand. “We’re hoping it’s a few weeks versus a season.”

The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 13.5 points per game – good for second on the team – while shooting 34.7 percent from the floor and grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game.

The Trojans aren’t without size with both Chimezie Metu (6-foot-11) and Nick Rakocevic (6-foot-11) getting minutes, but if Boatwright, who already missed two games this season due to back spasms, does miss an extended amount of time – or the entire season – that’s excising an important piece of a team off to a 7-0 start that already doesn’t have a ton of depth.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.

USC lands four-star shooting guard Jonah Mathews

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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USC’s solid run on the recruiting trail in the Class of 2016 got even better Wednesday night, as 6-foot-3 four-star shooting guard Jonah Mathews (Santa Monica, California) verbally committed to Andy Enfield’s program. News of Mathews’ commitment was first reported by Scout.com.

The younger brother of current Cal shooting guard Jordan Mathews and son of former UCLA assistant Phil Mathews, Jonah joins fellow four-star prospect De’Anthony Melton (shooting guard) and three-star power forward Harrison Henderson in USC’s 2016 recruiting class. In addition to those three, the Trojans will have Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron available in 2016-17.

Mathews, who played alongside the likes of Auburn freshman Nu Williams and Class of 2016 7-footer Jayce Johnson at Santa Monica HS last season, played for the California Supreme program on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer. Mathews averaged 14.3 points per game for California Supreme, and he’s considered by scouts to be one of the top perimeter shooters on the west coast.

Mathews is ranked 96th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com.

USC doesn’t have a senior in its current backcourt, with Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt both being juniors, but the Trojans are in a position where they need to stockpile talent after struggling in Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm. More options tends to mean more competition for minutes, which should benefit the program moving forward.

USC lands three-star guard De’Anthony Melton

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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While USC’s backcourt rotation currently has a solid combination of youth and experience, with Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt (juniors) being the lone scholarship upperclassmen, there was room for an addition that could help the Trojans defensively. Wednesday afternoon Andy Enfield and his staff received a verbal commitment from a player well-equipped to help out in that regard in the form of 6-foot-3 guard De’Anthony Melton.

Melton, a southern California native who attends Crespi High School, announced the news via his Twitter account. Melton helped lead Crespi to the CIF Division IV state title this past spring.

Melton is USC’s second commitment in the Class of 2016, joining power forward Harrison Henderson. It also in all likelihood takes them out of the running for guard Te’Jon Lucas, who will announce his college choice Wednesday evening.

As mentioned above USC won’t lack for perimeter depth when Melton arrives on campus next year. Jacobs and Reinhardt will both be seniors at that time, with Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart being juniors and Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron a redshirt sophomore.

Point guard Te’Jon Lucas set to announce decision

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One of the biggest stock risers during the month of July is set to make a decision, as point guard Te’Jon Lucas will commit on Wednesday. The native of Milwaukee will choose between his finalists of Illinois, Old Dominion and USC during a 5:30 p.m. CST press conference.

The three-star Lucas burst on the national scene with his strong play during the summer as he was one of the surprise players at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and he also performed well during July. Old Dominion has been in the picture the longest for the 5-foot-11 Lucas but Illinois and USC have both made late charges.

Lucas has taken an unofficial visit to Illinois and official visits to Old Dominion and USC during the recruiting process. A high IQ floor general, Lucas is adept at running pick and rolls and he’s the type of point guard who can get others involved.

Julian Jacobs throws down impressive dunk during USC’s opening game in Italy (VIDEO)

Julian Jacobs, Savon Goodman
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USC, which is working hard to rebound from a tough 2014-15 season, is one of many college basketball teams playing some exhibitions in Europe this summer. Andy Enfield’s team is currently in Italy, where they won their opener 90-76 over the Vedano Olona All-Stars on Friday. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright led the way offensively with 18 points, with six other Trojans finishing the game in double figures.

One of those six was guard Julian Jacobs, who scored 11 points with two coming on the two-handed dunk that can be seen above. Jacobs, who will be a junior this season, turned the corner on his defender and it was “all she wrote” from there.