- After a 16–17 season, can a top-10 recruiting class led by local Los Angeles five-stars get USC back on track in the Pac-12?
In continuing our annual summer theme of getting you acquainted with the next crop of young, skilled players that will arrive to college basketball, we're taking a closer look at the Top 10 incoming recruiting classes (per the 247Sports composite) in the country. These schools range from the usual faces (Duke, Kentucky) to fresh ones (Memphis, Washington, Georgia), but they all have one big thing in common: there's plenty of major talent arriving. Five-stars get the headline, but a truly great recruiting class often has depth as well—players who can be program-changers over three or four years, not just one or two. Without further ado, let's move to the next top-10 class: the USC Trojans.
Five-Stars: Isaiah Mobley (No. 20), Onyeka Okongwu (No. 25)
Four-Stars: Max Agbonkpolo (No. 59)
Three-Stars: Kyle Sturdivant (No. 142), Drake London (No. 187) and Ethan Anderson (No. 326)
Other New Additions: Small forward Daniel Utomi (from Akron) and Quinton Adlesh (from Columbia)
How the Class Was Built
Summer 2018: Both of USC’s incoming five-stars made their decisions early in the recruiting cycle, with Chino Hills, Calif. native Onyeka Okongwu committing to stay local nearly a year and a half ago over offers from Kansas, UCLA, Ohio State and more. Isaiah Mobley then picked the Trojans over other Pac-12 schools including Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State just four days later, committing to play for his dad—an assistant coach on Andy Enfield’s staff—on May 18. Two-sport athlete Drake London decided to play both football and basketball for USC in June, just before four-star small forward Max Agbonkpolo added his name to Enfield’s roster in July, giving USC a solid slew of local summer commitments.
Fall 2018: Four-star point guard Kyle Sturdivant then pledged to the Trojans that fall, announcing his decision in late September and adding some backcourt depth to the class.
Spring 2019: Three-star Ethan Anderson, a previous UNLV commit, became the last top local prospect to join the Trojans incoming freshman crew in March 2019.
How It Stacks Up to 2018 and Recent History
The 2019 class brings twice as many new faces to the Trojans as 2018’s three-man crew, which was headlined by former five-star shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr. The highly-touted wing didn’t wind up seeing a ton of playing time due to some off the court issues and injury, and the rest of the class made a somewhat muted impact. This year’s two five-star commitments bumped the class ahead of last year’s No. 18 ranking as USC’s incoming class cracked the top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, bringing the highest-ranked recruiting class to Los Angeles since 2007. The Trojans have landed top-50 classes each cycle since Enfield took over the team in 2013, but none have brought as much potential or promise (or a higher ranking) as this year’s newcomers. Two seasons of above-average recruiting landed USC its second consecutive top-25 team.
The freshman class, led by Mobley and Okongwu, will be counted on to help Enfield as he finds a new starting five and replaces the production lost with the graduation of top scorer Bennie Boatwright. Thankfully for the Trojans, the team returns its other two best bucket-getters in Jonah Mathews and Nick Rakocevic, who also happen to be its only returning starters. They bring back a few bench players, like Elijah Weaver and Charles O’Bannon Jr., as well. While there are plenty of new faces on this squad, including two transfers, the five-star headliners bring the most obvious immediate potential to the Trojans for 2019-20—even though they’ll likely only stick around for this season. The other four freshmen should stay in Los Angeles for a few years and help Enfield continue to build a better future for USC basketball.
Team Expectations for 2019-20
Okongwu and Mobley should have an immediate effect on a Trojans squad that finished below .500 last season. There’s a bit of uncertainty surrounding who will relieve Weaver at point and make up for the scoring loss at the three besides Mathews, but outside of that Enfield has options. USC sports a ton of new faces this season, but the potential and the talent is there. It’s more a matter of the Trojans figuring out where everyone fits this season, especially given that are more options in the frontcourt than they had in 2018–19 and Enfield likes to stretch the floor. The incoming additions give the Trojans a real reason to be optimistic, but the Pac-12 will be improved this season. Expectations should be better than last season but not quite sky-high yet.
USC landed the No. 1 commit in the class of 2020 this summer in 6’11” center Evan Mobley, younger brother of 2019 five-star Isaiah and son of Trojans’ assistant coach Eric. The youngest Mobley’s commitment coming so early should help USC lock in some other talented recruits. Several of the Trojans’ top targets have already landed elsewhere—like Jeremy Roach and Jalen Johnson (both Duke), Reece Beekman and Jabri Abdur-Rahim (both Virginia), and BJ Boston Jr. (Kentucky), but USC is eyeing a few big names who are still on the board like five-star small forward Ziaire Williams, five-star center Makur Maker, four-star forwards Mwani Wilkinson and Tari Eason and shooting guards Noah Taitz and Jaylen Clark, who both rank just beyond the top-100. Mobley’s presence in the frontcourt should at least bring a few other talented players on board, especially given that Rakocevic will graduate and the likelihood that both Isaiah Mobley and Okongwu only stay for a one-and-done season before departing for the draft. The Trojans will need to rebuild and playing time will be plentiful in the paint.