October 20, 2011
Injuries may have diminished USC's chances of contending in the Pac-12 this winter, but the Trojans have a lot to look forward to for the 2012-13 season.
Guard Jio Fontan will return after sitting out all of this season with a torn ACL suffered in August. Transfers Ari Stewart (Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine) will be eligible to play after redshirting this season. And barring unforeseen roster turnover, every member of this year's rotation will be back in the fold.
The latest piece of good news came Wednesday when the Los Angeles Times reported that high-scoring former Wake Forest guard J.T. Terrell has committed to the Trojans. The former four-star recruit will spend this season at Peninsula College in Washington and will have two years of eligibility remaining when he enrolls at USC next fall.
The addition of Terrell is a calculated risk for USC because the former top 100 recruit displayed both talent and immaturity at Wake Forest.
On the one hand, Terrell averaged 11.1 points per game as a freshman and possess the scoring knack defensive-minded USC has often lacked under Kevin O'Neill. On the other hand, Terrell drew criticism at Wake Forest for his poor shot selection and attitude and eventually was dismissed from school last month after he was arrested on charges of driving while impaired and driving after consuming alcohol.
Without directly naming any player, Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik has made it seem as though his team is better off without Terrell, Stewart and fellow former Demon Deacon Melvin Tabb.
"I sleep easy at night,'' Bzdelik told the Winston Salem Journal. "The phone's not ringing at 1:30 in the morning.'
"I don't have to motivate guys to give an effort. I can now teach. And that's a great feeling for a coach ... "Last year I had to give a Knute Rockne speech to get guys to run up and down the court."
The hope for USC is Terrell matures over the next 12 months, avoids further legal trouble and then shows improved effort and shot selection playing for a team that will be expected to make the NCAA tournament in 2013 rather than one that won just one ACC game.
If that happens, USC will have a valuable addition. If not, O'Neill may be calling Bzdelik to commiserate.