2024-25 Big Ten offseason at a glance: USC Trojans

  • 06/06/2024 6:36 am in

Welcome to “Big Ten offseason at a glance,” a team-by-team look at the conference at the start of the summer. We’ll examine roster movement for each Big Ten roster and give an early outlook for each Big Ten program for the 2024-25 season.

Previously: Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Rutgers, Northwestern, Michigan

Today: USC (15-18 overall in 2023-24, 8-12 in Pac-12 play)

Andy Enfield jumped ship earlier this spring, leaving USC after 11 seasons for SMU. It was a smart move to get a fresh start for Enfield, who had reached the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons before last. The Trojans hired Eric Musselman as Enfield’s replacement and now have 12 new players for next season.

USC roster movement

Players returning with eligibility remaining: Harrison Hornery

Players departing due to exhausted eligibility: Joshua Morgan, DJ Rodman, Boogie Ellis

Players who left early for the NBA draft: Isaiah Collier, Bronny James

Players who departed via the transfer portal: Brandon Gardner (to Arizona State), Arrinten Page (to Cincinnati), Vincent Iwuchukwu (to St. John’s), Kijani Wright (to Vanderbilt), Kobe Johnson (to UCLA), Oziyah Sellers (to Stanford)

Players arriving via the transfer portal: Clark Slajchert (from Penn), Bryce Pope (from UC San Diego), Saint Thomas (from Northern Colorado), Chibuzo Agbo (from Boise State), Josh Cohen (from UMass), Matt Knowling (from Yale), Rashaun Agee (from Bowling Green), Terrence Williams III (from Michigan), Desmond Claude (from Xavier), Kevin Patton Jr. (from San Diego)

Players arriving via high school: Isaiah Elohim (247Composite top 50), Jalen Shelley (247Composite top 60)

No Big Ten program had more roster turnover than USC. The Trojans return just one scholarship player from last season in Hornery, who averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. USC has filled all 13 scholarships for next season with 10 incoming transfers and two freshmen.

What to like about USC

If USC is going to be formidable in year one of its Big Ten tenure, it will need Claude and Pope to excel immediately. Claude arrives from Xavier, where he averaged 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season. His 3-point shooting, however, was a struggle (23.9 percent).

Pope, meanwhile, averaged 18.3 points last season at UC San Diego and Musselman is hoping that his scoring prowess translates up a level.

In the frontcourt, the Trojans landed several players with starting experience in Williams II, Agbo and Cohen.

What to question with USC

The frontcourt depth is suspect with Cohen and Hornery as the only two players taller than 6-foot-8. Cohen arrives from UMass, where he averaged 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. But he’s just 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds and he’s not much of a defensive presence. That could be problematic in a Big Ten stocked with physical post players.

The Trojans need good floor spacing around Claude to reach their ceiling as a team. Slajchert made 42.2 percent of his triples last year at Penn, but the Big Ten is an entirely different level. Agbo made 40.9 percent of his 3s at Boise State and is a potential X-factor, as is Thomas, who averaged 19.7 points at Northern Colorado and could provide a considerable scoring punch.

USC’s outlook for the 2024-25 season

Here is USC’s Big Ten schedule for next season:

Home: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Away: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers
Home/Away: Oregon, UCLA, Washington

Bart Torvik currently has USC inside the top 25 of his preseason rankings for next season and Joe Lunardi has the Trojans as a No. 9 seed in his early bracketology projections.

Musselman is no stranger to building winning teams from the portal, but his transfer-heavy team at Arkansas last season was a flop. There’s no guarantee he can successfully put all of the pieces together in what should be an ultra-competitive Big Ten.

(Photo credit: USC Athletics)

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