- Kevin Porter could be just what the doctor ordered for Andy Enfield and USC after the Trojans lost three of their top four scorers.
In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. Next up is the No. 28 overall recruit, USC's Kevin Porter.
What he means for the Trojans' recruiting class
Headlining USC’s No. 18 nationally ranked recruiting class is 6’5” 220-pound Kevin Porter Jr., the top prospect in the state of Washington. The Seattle native was initially classified as a four-star recruit when he committed to the Trojans, but after putting on an absolute show at the Nike Hoop Summit during the spring of his senior year, Porter was bumped up to five-star status—the first Rivals-ranked five-star signee to play for USC since DeMar DeRozan in 2008. A monster dunk that received praise by Kevin Garnett and some hype from Isaiah Thomas also helped raise his profile as a potential lottery pick next summer. The shooting guard shows tremendous potential and could easily be a one-and-done for the Trojans. Even if he won’t be in Los Angeles for very long, there’s no question that coach Andy Enfield will utilize Porter while he can. Enfield also welcomes four-star guard Elijah Weaver and four-star forward J’Raan Brooks in his 2018 class.
How he fits
Physicality is one of Porter’s greatest attributes—his size and his strength coupled with his ability to shoot make him a dynamic addition to USC’s squad and the perfect fit for Enfield’s system, which relies on fast-paced, high-powered play at the point. He can knock down shots from deep or attack at the rim all while handling the ball well. He’s a versatile offensive asset, one that the Trojans need in the wake of leading scorer Chimezie Metu and guard De’Anthony Melton departing for the draft, plus the graduation of Enfield’s No. 3 and 4 scorers, point guard Jordan McLaughlin and shooting guard Elijah Stewart, respectively. Metu, a 6’11” center, averaged 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Rising senior Bennie Boatwright, who averaged 13.6 points per game last season, good for second on the team, and junior Nick Rakocevic will fill much of the void left by Metu, but the Trojans are still in need of shooters like Porter who can find success all over the floor. The five-star recruit will add an offensive prowess that will bolster Enfield’s backcourt in the wake of such significant veteran departures.
Importance to USC's success/team outlook:
The Trojans lost most of their team’s leaders this spring, either to graduation or to the draft, and with them went a significant portion of the team’s points. Enfield needs adept scorers and skilled ball handlers to run the court in their absence and Porter fits that profile. Experienced bigs like Boatwright and Rakocevic are plenty, but Porter is just what the Trojans need to make smart plays from the two or three spot. USC’s 2018 squad will be a young but talented team, with Porter expected to see significant playing time alongside sophomore wing Jordan Usher, junior guard Jonah Mathews, sophomore guard Charles O'Bannon Jr. and fellow Rainier Beach High School alum Shaqquan Aaron.