USC is viewed as one of two finalists for game-changing 5-star point guard

·4 min read

We interrupt our coverage of Lincoln Riley’s first football season at USC to bring you a very important piece of basketball recruiting news.

We could soon get an announcement date and then a revelation of one top recruit’s choice for the 2023 class.

Isaiah Collier, a top-five 2023 national recruit in the eyes of nearly every recruiting service, is an elite high school player. More than that, however, he is a point guard.

USC basketball fans can tell you, as can we: The Trojans desperately need an equation-changing point guard if they really and truly want to become a Final Four-level program which gets high NCAA Tournament seeds and can regularly make the second weekend of the Big Dance every March.

It might seem like empty bluster or knee-jerk embellishment to call any recruit a game-changer. No, Collier truly would be a game-changer. That’s not hyperbole or lazy, hype-driven salesmanship. Give USC a point guard surrounding all the defensive length Andy Enfield puts on a court. That’s the missing piece, folks. USC has been looking for a special point guard since Jordan McLaughlin left the program to become a valuable NBA player.

There’s a lot to tell you about Collier’s recruitment:

USC VS. CINCINNATI

Rob Cassidy of Rivals rated the battle for Collier a tie between Cincinnati and USC:

The Bearcats and Trojans have separated themselves in the race to land the five-star point guard. Neither program seems to be counting their chickens just yet, however. Cincinnati head coach Wes Miller and company were in to see Collier over the weekend in an effort to make their push.

POSSIBLE PACKAGE DEAL

More from Cassidy:

USC followed suit with an in-home as well, and the race is shaping up to be a 12-round fight between the two schools. Both are also courting Collier’s friend and teammate Arrinten Page, with whom Collier could well be a package deal if things break correctly.

Page is a power forward who could complement Collier. Imagine if USC can get a 2-for-1 here.

VERY SLIGHT LEAN TO CINCY, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MATTER UNTIL IT'S DONE

Cassidy:

At this juncture it’s hard to separate the two schools at the top, as it feels very much like a 1A-1B situation, the order of which seems to fluctuate. I’d give the slight edge to the Bearcats as things stand, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable betting so much as an artisan sandwich and a bag of overpriced gourmet chips on it just yet.

MICHIGAN IN 3RD PLACE, NOT COMPLETELY OUT OF THE RUNNING

Cassidy:

If the Trojans and Bearcats are inseparable at the top of the list, Michigan stands just one rung below the front-running duo and cannot be dismissed entirely. Juwan Howard’s recruiting reputation speaks for itself, after all.

Howard and his entire staff flew to Georgia to see Collier over the weekend and left feeling as though they have a realistic chance to jump up and snag his pledge. The Wolverines don’t seem to be seriously recruiting another point guard, so the coaching staff’s actions back up its confidence.

There’s still work left to do, however, as a source close to Collier mentioned that he still personally sees Michigan as running in third on Monday morning.

UCLA IS OUT

Cassidy:

UCLA made a noble effort here, but it’s clear that the Bruins will be on the outside looking in on come decision day. If Collier is to travel across the country to play in the Pac-12, he’ll be doing it at USC, not its crosstown rival.

Simply put: there would need to be some kind of larger cosmic event for UCLA to be the team left standing at the end of the Collier Sweepstakes. The Bruins seem to have all but given up after seeing the writing on the wall, which is the right move. Knowing when you’re defeated is a full-fledged skill on the recruiting trail, and that seems to be the case here.

COLLIER'S RIVALS RANKING

Cassidy:

The No. 4 prospect in the 2023 Rivals150 is yet to announce a decision date, but there’s growing speculation that his recruitment could end sometime in the next two weeks or so.

WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR USC

The Trojans have had the Mobley brothers. They still have Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson and Reese Dixon-Waters. They have lots of good pieces, and their Elite Eight team had solid complementary parts surrounding Evan Mobley. What have they been missing all this time? The elite point guard who could get to the rack, drop lots of dimes, and control the game as a floor general.

Andy Enfield has consistently recruited top big men.

If USC gets Isaiah Collier, it’s the kind of recruit the Trojans ordinarily have failed to land. This is a very important recruit for USC, and there’s no sense in pretending otherwise.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire