Each time Chevez Goodwin puts on his No. 1 jersey, it holds a special place in his heart.
Goodwin has been wearing No. 1 to honor his late mother since high school, where he was a basketball standout at Hammond School in Columbia. He continued to wear it in college during his stops at College of Charleston, Wofford and now Southern Cal.
Ronee Berry-Goodwin died when Chevez was in the third grade.
“I play for her. That is what the No. 1 in my jersey stands for,” Goodwin told The State in a phone interview Wednesday after practice. “She is the one person who hasn’t seen me play, so I carry it with me wherever I go.
“She is the inspiration for me to live life and play. I don’t talk about her too much because it is private and personal to me. She was a social worker and worked in schools and prisons, always trying to inspire people. Her life was trying to be a good person, and I try to mimic that as much as I can. I play for her.”
Goodwin and the USC Trojans basketball team are in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. After Southern Cal’s win over Kansas on Monday, he posted on Twitter above a picture from the game, “My momma smiling down on me ... roneé’s rose.”
If his mom were alive, Chevez said she wouldn’t be the most impressed with his accomplishments in basketball, which include a state championship at Hammond and two NCAA tournament appearances. He said she would be more interested in him earning his Wofford degree in computer science with a minor in film and digital media. He is working on a master’s degree at Southern Cal.
The 6-foot-9 Goodwin is averaging six points and 3.6 rebounds a game this season for the Trojans. He scored 10 points, including a pair of thunderous dunks, in the 85-51 win over Kansas on Monday.
Southern Cal coach Andy Enfield talked about Goodwin’s impact on the team during his news conference Thursday. He cited his work ethic and constant motor off the bench that the team feeds off. Goodwin also is the only Trojan play in an NCAA tournament game before this season.
“Chevez has exceeded our expectations and has done an outstanding job,” Enfield said. “He is such a leader by example. He is the one guy on our team no matter how tired you are ... he shows up to every practice like it is a championship game. He plays so hard and he is such a wonderful person. We couldn’t be more excited for him.”
Trying to get Dad to the Final Four
Charles Goodwin, a former teacher and coach, was the one responsible for teaching his son the game of basketball. Chevez said he had a ball in his hands when he was 3 years old. After his wife’s passing, Charles was the one who made sure his son was doing his school work and getting better on the basketball court.
At his signing day event in high school, Chevez talked about the sacrifices his father made throughout the years.
“My dad has done an incredible job raising me and my brother (Enrique),” Chevez said. “Time we spent in the gym, late nights doing homework and a lot of different stuff was worth it.”
Charles Goodwin has been unable to see his son play in person this season because of COVID-19 restrictions in California. Southern Cal wasn’t wasn’t allowed to play in front of fans at its home games.
The elder Goodwin hasn’t yet made the trip to Indianapolis, where the NCAA tournament is being held, but that might change if the Trojans win two more games and make it to the Final Four. The Trojans play conference foe Oregon on Sunday with a possible matchup against No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga in the West Regional final Tuesday. Gonzaga faces Creighton in the other Sunday game in the bracket.
“My dad told me I got the best seat in the house with the flat-screen TV. Only way he is going to leave this house is to go to the Final Four,” Goodwin said. “I’ve got to get there so I can get him out of the house.”
Goodwin’s basketball path across the country
Southern Cal is the third stop in Goodwin’s basketball journey. He signed with College of Charleston in 2017 during the same ceremony that teammate Seventh Woods signed with North Carolina. Woods opted to finish his career at South Carolina.
Goodwin played one season at College of Charleston before transferring to Wofford. He had to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules and played with the Terriers for two years.
Goodwin was part of Wofford’s NCAA tournament team in 2019, which upset Seton Hall in the first round before losing to Kentucky. Last season, he started all 35 games for Wofford and averaged 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.
After the season, Goodwin announced that he would enter the transfer portal. Less than a week later, he chose Southern Cal over Xavier, Georgia, Houston and Arkansas. He was part of a talented incoming class that included four transfers and Evan Mobley, the top-ranked recruit in the country.
Goodwin’s arrival in Los Angeles was pushed back until September because of COVID-19. Normally, he would have been there in June for summer workouts.
“I had to hit the ground running,” Goodwin said. “Lot of teammates say this isn’t the real Los Angeles, it is a twilight zone LA. I have no idea what the real L.A. is like. Hopefully, things start opening up when we get back.
“It has been a weird season, not having fans or no energy. … There have been a lot of obstacles this season, but I can’t be more happy than I am now.”
Goodwin has one more year of eligibility if he wants it after the NCAA gave all athletes an extra year because of the pandemic. He said he will announce his decision after the season on whether to return to school or go play professionally.
“Every spot has been a blessing in itself,” Goodwin said. “I feel like I still have a lot more basketball left to play. I can’t wait to see what the future holds really.”
Columbia SC players in Sweet 16
A list of Columbia natives still left in the 2021 NCAA tournament:
Robert Braswell, Syracuse: Blythewood High grad is averaging eight points in two NCAA tournament games and played a season-high 29 minutes in the second-round against West Virginia. For the year, he is averaging 3.9 points.
Jordan Bruner, Alabama: Spring Valley High product was a grad transfer to Alabama after playing at Yale. Had three points in first-round win over Iona. For the season, he has made 22 starts and averaging 5.7 points and four rebounds a game.
Juwan Gary, Alabama: Gray Collegiate standout made second start of the season in the second round against Maryland, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds. For the year, he is averaging 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds.
Chevez Goodwin, Southern Cal: Hammond standout was a grad transfer after playing at Wofford and College of Charleston. He is averaging seven points in NCAA tournament.
Kendall Wall, Alabama: Spring Valley standout played one minute in Alabama’s win over Maryland.