USC basketball's not-so-merry go round
Public perception may be that investigations of USC's basketball program are moving slowly.
The roster is another story.
Since the end of the season, USC has lost seven players. Three of its four top scorers from last season are underclassmen who declared for the NBA draft. The team's top three recruits all gave solid commitments (or even signed), but are now headed elsewhere. A bit player is transferring. USC won't be replacing this amount of talent anytime soon:
- DeMar DeRozan -- Highly touted one-and-done was easily the program's most skilled athlete.
- Daniel Hackett -- A solid showing in both tournaments boosted his stock, but it still surprised a lot of people when the junior decided to turn pro.
- Taj Gibson -- Despite his being named the Pac-10 defensive player, it's unclear whether Gibson helped his cause by staying last year. He's old for his class, so nobody was surprised that he decided to enter the NBA draft.
- Renardo Sidney -- One of the best prep big men in the country, Sidney made a big deal out of his commitment ceremony to USC ... then decided to go to Mississippi State when the Trojans got concerned about his recruiting baggage.
- Solomon Hill -- High school teammates with Sidney, the forward was upset that Coach Tim Floyd flirted with Arizona's coaching job while telling Hill to stay loyal to his original commitment to the Trojans. Floyd didn't leave for the Wildcats, but Hill did.
- Noel Johnson -- The swingman from Georgia had actually signed a binding commitment with USC, but didn't like the "cloud" over the program. What does it say that the Trojans are releasing him?
- Donte Smith -- The point guard is transferring to Cal State San Bernardino. His departure wouldn't normally cause concern, but he started three games last year and the Trojans lack depth at his position.
- Marcus Johnson -- Originally a transfer from UConn, the swingman was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA because he played in only one exhibition game during his last season with the Huskies.
- Lamont "Mo Mo" Jones -- A recent signee, the prep from Virginia could be the first traditional point guard to lead the Trojans for several years.
- Mamadou Diarra -- The tallest player on USC's roster was looking to transfer to another school or even play overseas, but is now expected to return.
The Trojans still return a good amount of talent including their leading scorer, guard Dwight Lewis, and forward Leonard Washington. Rivals.com is also reporting that power forward Derrick Williams (La Mirada) has signed with USC.
In case you don't pick up the print edition, here's a chronology that ran Thursday in The Times:
A chronology of USC basketball news since the Trojans lost to Michigan State in the second round of NCAA tournament:
March 31: At the team's end-of-season banquet, Coach Tim Floyd urges underclassmen to forgo the NBA and stay in school.
April 1: One day after his speech, Floyd takes a private jet to Tucson for discussions about the University of Arizona job.
April 2: Floyd announces he will stay at USC, reiterating that it will be his last job.
April 7: The Times reports that freshman DeMar DeRozan and juniors Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett will declare for the NBA draft.
April 14: Recruit Solomon Hill of Los Angeles Fairfax High recants oral commitment to USC, signs with Arizona.
April 30: Fairfax's Renardo Sidney, a national top-10 recruit who had committed to the Trojans, signs with Mississippi State.
May 12: Louis Johnson, who says he was an associate of Rodney Guillory, the man responsible for bringing O.J. Mayo to USC, tells Yahoo! Sports and The Times that Floyd gave Guillory an envelope with at least $1,000 in cash on Feb. 14, 2007.
May 22: Recruit Noel Johnson asks to be released from the USC scholarship he accepted, enabling him to attend another school.
May 27: Floyd speaks to USC boosters in Irvine, but says nothing about the NCAA situation.
Source: Los Angeles Times
-- Adam Rose
Photo: Tim Floyd at an April 2 news conference announcing that he will stay at USC. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press