To say that the 2011-12 season in the Pac-12 was a difficult one for the league would be an understatement. With defections and injuries came depleted and/or young rosters, resulting in arguably the worst season in the conference’s 10/12-team era.
Two such programs were Arizona State and USC, and with both having to deal with multiple transfers going into this off-season it would be easy to think that both are in serious trouble for 2012-13 as well.
But it’s important to realize that the situations in Tempe and Los Angeles are far different, with Herb Sendek’s program in serious trouble when looking ahead to next season.
It was announced on Tuesday that leading scorer Trent Lockett would be leaving the program, transferring to be closer to home due to his mother being diagnosed with cancer recently.
Lockett, on track to graduate this summer according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic, would be immediately eligible to play with one season of eligibility remaining.
That makes four players leaving Arizona State this season with Keala King (now at Long Beach State) being dismissed from the program in January, Chanse Creekmur announcing his intentions to play football closer to his Iowa home and Kyle Cain deciding to leave last week.
Over the last four years twelve players have left Arizona State, and even with the addition of point guard Jahii Carson (the NCAA did not clear him academically for this season) and Liberty transfer Evan Gordon the Sun Devils could be in serious trouble from a depth standpoint.
USC, who has had three players announce their intentions to leave, can at least point to the return of three injured players as a reason for optimism in 2012-13.
Jio Fontan tore his ACL during the team’s off-season trip to Brazil, and starters Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller both suffered season-ending injuries during Pac-12 play.
Guard Alexis Moore and forwards Garrett Jackson and Curtis Washington have decided to leave the USC program, but given the guys due back from injury combined with some talented newcomers this wasn’t unexpected.
Transfers Ari Stewart (Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine) will be eligible next season as will JUCO transfer J.T. Terrell, who was a member of the ACC All-Freshman team during his one season at Wake Forest.
Head coach Kevin O’Neill wrote an optimistic letter to USC fans thanking them for their support during this tough year, and as of right now the Trojans look to have a nice stable of players due back.
USC will have some veterans to look to, which could result in a move up the Pac-12 standings. Arizona State on the other hand may once again have to rely on a number of youngsters, possibly short-circuiting what looked to be a bounce-back season just a month ago.