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USC Basketball

Season Recap: USC Basketball looking for answers after disappointing 2018-2019 campaign

March 15, 2019

USC’s season-ending loss to Washington in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals marked the end of a tumultuous 2018-2019 campaign. The Trojans concluded their season with a 16-17 record, their worst mark since finishing 12-20 in 2015.

By any standard, this season was a disappointment for the Trojans. In the midst of the winningest stretch in program history, the 2019 campaign was one that featured drama, instability, and a need for off-season adjustments to be made.

What Went Wrong?

When looking at USC’s schedule, there are two trends that stick out: a lack of quality wins and a plethora of bad losses. Early in the year, the Trojans failed early tests against elite teams such as Texas Tech and Nevada, two games in which they appeared to have control. Additionally, embarrassing non-conference losses to the likes of TCU and Santa Clara were simply setbacks the Trojans could not afford.

In conference play, USC squandered numerous opportunities to separate themselves in a wide-open Pac-12. After starting out Pac-12 play 6-3, USC dropped 6 of their next 9 games in the conference, finishing the regular season just 8th after finishing 2nd a year ago. 

Injuries and off-court issues also plagued USC’s depth all season long. First, Bennie Boatwright health was a concern in the early part of the season. The senior captain missed the first few games recovering from off-season injuries and was a shell of himself early on. On the perimeter, former McDonald’s All-American Charles O’Bannon Jr. was lost early in the season to a finger injury and Jordan Usher transferred out of the program after being suspended indefinitely in December. Additionally, freshman Kevin Porter Jr. went down with a hamstring injury before he was also suspended for a few games for off-court incidents.


Despite the Trojans’ poor record, Bennie Boatwright shined as the focal point of the offense once he regained his rhythm. Boatwright averaged 18.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on the year en route to earning Pac-12 first team honors. 

Although USC will lose starters in Boatwright and Shaqquan Aaron to graduation, Andy Enfield should return the majority of his core next season. Even if Kevin Porter Jr. decides to enter the NBA draft, point guards Derryck Thornton and Elijah Weaver will have another offseason to grow, while Jonah Mathews and O’Bannon Jr. should return next season. On the interior, Nick Rakocevic has already announced that he intends to return for his senior season and freshman J’Raan Brooks showed potential throughout the year.

Along with the returning players, USC will welcome one of the best recruiting classes in the country next year. Currently ranked 3rd in the 247sports rankings, the class features two consensus 5-star big men in Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu as well as 4-stars Max Agbonkpolo and Kyle Sturdivant. The class is rounded out by two-sport athlete Drake London, who is ranked as a 4-star wide receiver and a 3-star shooting guard.

Tags: Basketball
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