USC buzz as Pac-12 title favorite grows with the arrival of Bronny James
The last time USC men’s basketball won the Pac-12 championship, the Pac-12 did not exist. The 1985 Pac-10 season marked the rise of USC under then-coach Stan Morrison. Nearly 40 years later, USC is still searching for its next conference championship on the hardwood. The year 1985 was a time when the USC women’s basketball program was enjoying its dynastic period under future icon Cheryl Miller. The Trojans won multiple national championships in the mid-1980s and were a regular Final Four team. Men’s basketball is still waiting for that next conference crown, and for its first Final Four trip since 1954.
Just how serious a contender is USC in the 2024 Pac-12, the last season of Pac-12 basketball for the program before its move to the Big Ten? Let’s take an early look. Some national commentators, as you will quickly find out, are already buying in. Bronny James is part of this, but it’s also about the roster Bronny James is joining at USC:
SOME ARE THINKING ABOUT THIS ALREADY
USC's current projected lineup for 2023-24:
Isaiah Collier, Boogie Ellis, Bronny James, Kobe Johnson, Joshua Morgan/Vince Iwuchukwu
As of today, the Pac-12 goes through the Galen Center. https://t.co/VlPJLBXcMP
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 6, 2023
USC BIG 3 PLUS A USC BIG MAN NAMED VINCE
The USC Big 3: Boogie Ellis, Isaiah Collier, and now Bronny James.
Then Kobe Johnson at the 4 and Iwuchku at the 5.
Your new Pac-12 frontrunners…
— ⚡️College Hoops Central⚡️ (@Hoops__Central) May 6, 2023
STAR POWER IN THE PAC-12
Caleb Williams and Bronny James at the same time? USC’s farewell to the PAC 12 is going to be a fun one.
— Shaun Chornobroff (@SChornobroff) May 6, 2023
BOOGIE ELLIS AND THE SUPPORTING CAST
Things that nobody is talking about today in regards to USC:
Trojans are set to return the Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year in Boogie Ellis (17.7 PPG), the Pac-12's leader in blocks in Joshua Morgan (2.2 BPG), and one of the Pac-12's best defenders in Kobe Johnson (2.2 SPG).
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 7, 2023
NATIONAL PODCASTERS EVALUATE USC IN THE PAC-12
On today's show:
🏀Bronny James commits to USC
🏀Are the Trojans now the Pac 12 favorite?
🏀Has Bronny risen to 1 & done level?
Links to watch/listen:
📺: https://t.co/8HaDUToGIz#LockedOn pic.twitter.com/BrxvV7g8zy
— Locked On College Basketball (@LockedOnCBB) May 8, 2023
USC VS UCLA
Should Amari Bailey stay at @UCLAMBB or head to the NBA? @kyletheboone weighs in ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/8UaWUNsdA0
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) May 9, 2023
If Amari Bailey goes pro, that might be enough to put USC ahead of UCLA in preseason national rankings and in Pac-12 projections. Decisions about the NBA draft have yet to be made for a few key UCLA players. Keep that in mind when you compare the Trojans and Bruins for the 2024 college basketball season.
USC VS ARIZONA
Oct 13, 2021; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd addresses the media during Pac-12 menÕs basketball media day. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd knows how to reload his roster each season. He grabbed former Alabama point guard Jaden Bradley in the transfer portal. Arizona will have a lot of size and length. USC will have an elite backcourt and will probably need to outscore Arizona in a track meet. If USC plays a slow-paced, halfcourt-oriented game, Arizona’s size and brawn in the paint might be too much (again) for the Trojans. Arizona has had USC’s number in recent years.
ARIZONA VS UCLA
Jan 21, 2023; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats center Oumar Ballo (11) blocks a shot by UCLA Bruins guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) during the second half at McKale Center. Mandatory Credit: Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
If you were to compare Arizona and UCLA (leaving USC and Bronny James out of the equation for just a moment), Arizona clearly has the better roster right now. Even if Amari Bailey returns to UCLA, the Wildcats would still likely have the edge in a two-team comparison with the Bruins.
Feb 12, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Dana Altman reacts during the second half against the California Golden Bears at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oregon struggled the past two years but has a great recruiting class coming into Eugene. How USC, UCLA, and Arizona handle Oregon will be a key part of how the 2024 Pac-12 basketball race shakes out.
Dec 1, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle reacts against the UCLA Bruins in the first half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Between returning players and the arrival of transfers such as former TCU big man Eddie Lampkin, Colorado has what is widely viewed as a top-20-caliber team. How USC, UCLA and Arizona play the Buffs will also be a central Pac-12 plot point in the coming college basketball season.
KEY REMINDER ABOUT USC AND BRONNY JAMES
Source: San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson is currently visiting USC.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 25, 2023
The USC roster isn’t finalized yet. The Trojans need a power forward, and if they can get a good one, their stock will rise even higher. Keep an eye on that.
LISTEN TO OUR BRONNY JAMES USC PODCAST EPISODE FOR MORE ANALYSIS
The Trojans: Wired Bronny James Arrival Podcast@IanHest is the co-host and producer.
Almost 40 minutes of Bronny James discussion on several different levels: https://t.co/Y6xTwBsaVe#USC
— USC Trojans Wire (@TrojansWire) May 9, 2023