The Dunk City Podcast

Locked and (Re)Loaded

June 14, 2023 USCBasketball.com Season 1 Episode 2
Locked and (Re)Loaded
The Dunk City Podcast
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The Dunk City Podcast
Locked and (Re)Loaded
Jun 14, 2023 Season 1 Episode 2
USCBasketball.com

Join us as we discuss USC basketball's recent signing of top 100 prospect Brandon Gardner, and talk about his similarities to a beloved name from Trojan lore - Lorenzo Orr.

We also examine how the roster is shaping up in advance for the season and what the move to the Big Ten will look like, plus the big news of USC's season opener against Kansas State in Las Vegas, where we'll witness the highly anticipated debuts of Isaiah Collier and Bronny James. Mark breaks down Kansas State using his analytics system.

We also note the visits of recruits Isaiah Elohim and Cam Scott to the USC campus, and explore the potential benefits that could accrue in recruiting if the Trojans have a successful season. Don't miss out on this in-depth analysis of USC basketball's future - tune in now!

Thoughtful in The Dark

Thoughtful in The Dark began as a blog composed of material I wrote during my junior...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

The Dunk City Podcast is the podcast of record for the USC basketball community. You can find all episodes at DunkCityPod.com, USCBasketball.com or on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. Contact us at USCBasketball.com@gmail.com.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us as we discuss USC basketball's recent signing of top 100 prospect Brandon Gardner, and talk about his similarities to a beloved name from Trojan lore - Lorenzo Orr.

We also examine how the roster is shaping up in advance for the season and what the move to the Big Ten will look like, plus the big news of USC's season opener against Kansas State in Las Vegas, where we'll witness the highly anticipated debuts of Isaiah Collier and Bronny James. Mark breaks down Kansas State using his analytics system.

We also note the visits of recruits Isaiah Elohim and Cam Scott to the USC campus, and explore the potential benefits that could accrue in recruiting if the Trojans have a successful season. Don't miss out on this in-depth analysis of USC basketball's future - tune in now!

Thoughtful in The Dark

Thoughtful in The Dark began as a blog composed of material I wrote during my junior...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

The Dunk City Podcast is the podcast of record for the USC basketball community. You can find all episodes at DunkCityPod.com, USCBasketball.com or on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon. Contact us at USCBasketball.com@gmail.com.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Dunk City podcast. Change direction by man. This is the first final round. Life and attention For the others and good for the show. It is a dream, tundra.

Speaker 2:

USC is on to the sweet 16 for the first time since two.

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to the second episode of the Dunk City podcast brought to you by uscbasketballcom. I'm your host, chris Houston, and we are really happy to have with us our co-host, mark Baxter. Mark, how you doing.

Speaker 2:

I am very excited to be here today.

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Well, you know it's been a busy summer for USC And there is seems to be no shortage of news these days. Earlier this month, USC signed Brandon Gardner, a 6'7" or 6'8" power forward out of Queens, new York, to the 2023 recruiting class And, as a result, usc's class is now rated in the top five. If you look at the class, the Trojans added a point garden, isaiah Collier, a combo guard in Brony James, a wing in DJ Rodman and two forwards, gardner and Arrington Page, with Page available to play the five spot in a pinch. So USC essentially added a group that would, on its own, make a pretty good starting. Five Thoughts on that, mark.

Speaker 2:

A complete starting five, which is really, I don't think, on anybody's grid at any point come into the recruiting season, was it?

Speaker 1:

No, especially maybe a few weeks back, where it looked like USC was at one point. USC had Collier and Page. So it seems like there's this inclination among some USC fans where if there is some uncharted waters or something doesn't seem to be wrapped up within a certain timeframe, then all the doubters come out of the woodwork and start panicking and making all kinds of crazy predictions, and fortunately those predictions are usually overtaken by events and turn out to be very wrong. So, as it turns out, usc has added in recent weeks, has added Gardner and Brony James and DJ Rodman. So what went from a three-person class that fell to two quickly bounced back to five.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I'll say this I'm the big Andy Enfield fan. He's not perfect none of us are But he's not dumb either. Okay, If there's a need there and if there's a way to fill it, he's gonna do what he can. I think the other thing that sometimes gets overlooked is recruiting is just not to use the old Bill Parsley's joke. You just don't dial 1-800-RECREUT and fill your roster. There's a little more involved than that And there's two parties to that transaction.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and this is a tough environment. And you look at what Calipari's doing in Kentucky and I think they're down to seven scholarship players, and would you rather be USC or Kentucky? at this moment I think you'd rather be USC. You'd probably rather be Andy Enfield than Calipari right now. Yeah, i totally agree.

Speaker 1:

So how did Brandon Gardner get to USC? Well, he was originally a St John's signee, but after Mike Anderson got fired, rick Petino came in and Gardner decided to ask for a release from his letter of intent. Now there are conflicting reports on whether Petino wanted Gardner or not, but it seems to be the case that this was more a matter of Petino just kind of wanting his own guys to fill out his roster rather than dealing with another coach's players and the shifting loyalties that that entails. And then things moved pretty quickly. Once Gardner decided to visit USC, he came out to LA for a visit and made his commitment on June 1, which, of course, was first reported on the uscbasketballcom message board.

Speaker 1:

Gardner is at 6'7" maybe close to 6'8" forward out of Christ the King High in Queens, new York City. His teammate was Brandon Williams, who is heading to UCLA. They're kind of similar types of bodies as far as being like 6'7", 6'8", 210, 220 pounds kind of different styles of player, though. Williams more of a refined offensive player, whereas Gardner is a plus athlete who can jump out of the gym and he's got a rapidly developing offensive repertoire that really points to him having a high ceiling. I mean, the day he steps on the floor for USC, he'll be the best dunker on the team. Now, mark, I'm gonna give you a name you can probably remember or probably just call up rather easily He might be the best pure dunker at the forward position we've had at USC since Lorenzo Orr right.

Speaker 2:

Oh, my okay.

Speaker 1:

Now for those of you listening who don't know that name, this, lorenzo Orr, was a freshman on the Last Herald Minor team and he was famous for his cartwheel dunks and also for dating Lisa Leslie. Like Orr, he seems to get a singular joy out of dunking. Now Orr, of course, developed as a player and played at two more years at USC and by his junior year was a really good player. The one college coach said of Garner that he's an NBA athlete. I expect we'll see a high percentage of his made shots as a freshman be of the dunking variety. Well, mark, out of curiosity, what do you remember the most about Lorenzo Orr?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, his freshman year, i think, was my senior year at USC and he was very athletic and raw, did develop nicely, really just an interior player more than anything else. If he stepped outside more than 10 feet it was, i don't think it was anything that was really drawn up for him. We'll put it that way. That's an interesting comparison. From what I saw of Garner, i had a different name come to mind and you went a very different way and I thought you would.

Speaker 2:

This might be a really crazy comparison And as I say this I almost salivate a little bit because he struck me a little bit as maybe just a taller Elijah Stewart. Elijah was a tremendous athlete too. Elijah became a great scorer but he really wasn't a great shooter right off the bat And from what I've read, garner's improved his shooting and I think there's a possibility he can get there. Elijah only shot 34% from three in his freshman year. Now I don't think Garner will get those minutes that Elijah did. That was just a different situation where we were just that entire freshman class kind of just took all the minutes, and we're in a very different spot right now. Not exactly the same, but I'm wondering scale it one to 10, sounds like you might give me a five or six in that comparison.

Speaker 1:

Well, i think, athletically, i think it's a pretty fair comparison in the sense that both of them were more raw athletes coming out of high school, although both of them had elements to their game that were sort of nice foundations from which to build on, like, i think Stuart always had a really nice Form to his shot, and so once you have that nice form and the, you can kind of build off of that. And I think Garner is similar in that, in that he is, he has good footwork And he has a lot of things that you can build off of. He's not starting from scratch, and so I think that's similar in that regard. But, like you said, different positions. Gardner is closer to six, seven, six, eight and, of course, i think Stuart was probably in reality six, five and and he played, you know they played different positions, but I think it's a pretty fair comparison.

Speaker 1:

And you know, going back to Lorenzo, or the thing that I remember out about Lorenzo or at first was his very first I was there for his very first dunk, which is, i recall, he got the ball and he turned and dunked the ball. He turned and dunked it and You know, to most people, okay, whatever, he just turned and dunked it, or he made a move right and then dunked the ball, but the difference was that his move was made in the air. You know, like He went up, he went up and the defender went up and He, he sidestepped the defender in the air and then, on the way down, dunked it. So I remember thinking, wow, that's, that was really remarkable. And so, yeah, pretty much all of his, his Scoring as a freshman were were these kind of amazing dunks, and and when I say that he got a singular joy out of dunking If I don't know if it's possible to get pictures of Lorenzo or dunking, but a lot of his dunks were with him sort of cocking his head back, as if he was Being tickled to death, so to speak. So he just really seemed to enjoy dunking in a visceral manner.

Speaker 1:

So we talked a little bit last pot about how it's going to be difficult to fill 13 or even 12 roster spots in this day and age Where players are competing hard for minutes. But there are certainly situations that are exceptions to that, such as this one or a guy getting out of his letter of intent. This lame the process sort of reduces his leverage a bit, and so, of course, usc benefits big time now from a roster construction standpoint, since Gardner would likely return for a sophomore season at least and give the Trojan some continuity as well as a bunch of athleticism down low as an enters big 10 play in 2024. What do you think, as you look at the roster, having that extra sort of Plus athlete down at the post position, and how that bodes for USC coming in the next few years mark?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if we can keep them all. I think that's One of the issues that I'm a little concerned about here. It's great to you know, great to have him on board. I didn't really think about, yeah, he, you know he got out of his LLY So this counts as his one freebie transfer, if I understand the rules correctly. So that that does make that different. Last episode we talked about how it seems about the over under on the number of Of players you can keep that really want to play. It's about eight and a half, right, and this puts us at nine, if right, you know. Now, if he's realistic about it and, like I said, like you said You know he doesn't have that leverage Could be a little bit of a balancing act. But if we can just make it through with this rockster intact and great, it just sets us up better for big 10 play, which is gonna be interesting because we, you know it'll be a little bit different style We're facing, obviously in that conference versus back to him.

Speaker 1:

Right and of course he's also is in a position On the team where it's not there's not a log jam there. Right, he's up, he's at a four position And you have as far as true for as you've got Kajani right And you've got him. And there might be some guys who I mean and also erranton page, i would say is also a true for, but you also have Guys who might play some for, who aren't true for us, or you might have some guys who You know there might be situations where USC doesn't play a true for, or they want a guy like Gardner to go down and guard wings, potentially with his athleticism, and That's one of the intriguing things that Gardner might bring to the table, which is the ability to potentially guard positions one through five because of his athleticism and versatility.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, i agree. Um, I'm also just interested to see, You know, with that versatility you referenced, i think, in the big 10, even though they are. You know, dick fight was right long, long ago when he called it the conference of big biceps. I Still think there's a big element that too. But there are some athletic teams in there too, and so you know player like him who could be interchangeable and, and you know, guard between three and four, that becomes really Really valuable absolutely, and of course you know he's, he has a pretty good body.

Speaker 1:

He's not, he's certainly not one of those guys who's going to be physically incapable of playing as a freshman. The only thing that will really hold him back will be just how fast he learns the offense, how fast he learns the defense, how fast he adjusts to the setting and and all the things spinning at him at such a fast rate and You know. But you bring up an interesting point about the big 10 And maybe we can talk a little bit about that, about going to a new conference with new styles. And, as is often the case in sports, you see it a lot of times, like for example, when, when urban Meyer went to Florida and brought the spread offense, really brought more modern offenses to the SEC and This chain. You know you can say we'll just urban Meyer adjust to the SEC or does he make the conference adjust to him.

Speaker 1:

Well, the latter is what you do. If you really Want to blow it open, you do the former. If you kind of want to play it safe and you know kind of survive, you do the, you do the latter and if you fail you leave. You know you, you get run out quickly, but you can also succeed and so. So what does USC do going into the big 10? Does USC start trying to play like Wisconsin or does it sort of take, you know, get an advantage by the fact that it's playing a different style, coming in and sort of let those teams Adjust to USC and you know they're gonna have UCLA as sort of You know not so far off in a style Also being there, and so maybe USC see, lay sort of pull the big 10 toward them rather than vice versa.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, wisconsin is an interesting example about. Do we wind up there? I don't think so. I think long term the ideal state might be, kind of, tom, is those best Michigan State teams Where you do have those athletic guards that are also, you know, strong, yeah, and then you do have a lot of muscle in the front court. Maybe a little less stiff in the front court than some of those is a team's right. Had some great athletes, but he's also had a few guys that you kind of wonder how they tie their shoes.

Speaker 1:

Right. Well, yeah, i mean you can see those guys all across the Big Ten And you know it's so funny, just as a quick aside, that everyone's kind of oohing and owing over the fact that Hunter Dickinson is going to Kansas State I'm sorry, not Kansas State going to Kansas And you know there are writers who are like, oh, i've got Kansas number one now. This makes them the national title favorite. And I'm like when was the last time a team won a national title with a guy that stiff at center? And I can't, i mean really starting at center and really relying on that guy. And the last guy I can think of, there's two guys kind of around the same era And of course it depends on what your definition of truly stiff is.

Speaker 1:

Ucla in 95, with, with, with, not Patruska, oh, zidac, zidac, yeah, george Zidac, yeah. Going back to UCLA winning the national title in 1995 with the George Zidac, now I don't think to be fair. It was stiff. But if you go back a couple of years earlier, you're looking at Eric Montras, who was about as stiff as they come. So since then has there been any teams with a big stiff at center kind of being the centerpiece and, you know, going to the title, I don't think so Well in fairness, Purdue only came six games short, Right So well, you know Zach, he's Zach, he is back And of course you know everyone's saying that you know they should be able to win the title now because Zach he's back, anyway.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, personally I'm hoping that USC and UCLA both can take advantage of being in a new league with different styles and different roster constructions, and I hope that can play to both LA teams as advantage, because I think what benefits one will probably benefit the other pretty closely in the first few seasons.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, playing a brand of offense that I think makes other teams uncomfortable. I think actually we would probably. I'm expecting to see maybe a little divergence where I think Cronin might be a little more comfortable in the Big Ten just as his teams play such a brutal brand of defense. He might just kind of find that a little more in his comfort zone and getting a lot of rock fights where you know USC is willing to play good defense but you know, not at that kind of rock fight level that Cronin seems to thrive in.

Speaker 1:

Well, the only you know. I would generally agree with that if it wasn't for the fact that Cronin right now appears to be shifting his recruiting emphasis away from high school players toward grad transfers and euros. They are bringing in several European players right now And now. It's certainly possible that he's going to bring in some euros and toughen them up, but euros do not have this sterling reputation as far as being kind of mix it up blue collar guys. So maybe Cronin can get that They usually come in as very skilled bigs or skilled wings, and maybe he jettisons this idea and goes back to finding the kind of guys that Cronin's used to. One thought on that.

Speaker 2:

I would wonder how much of that is strategic on his part versus born out of necessity, as UCLA doesn't really seem to be on the cutting edge of NIL And Europe might kind of be where his best chances lie to bring in any kind of you know high level players.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that I mean that's a great point. I mean it seems like with that recruiting juggernaut that is USC across town in basketball right now, usc is pretty much out recruited USC, usc is pretty much out recruited UCLA the last four or five cycles head to head, And it's gotten to the point now where UCLA really can't compete for a lot of players that USC also wants And so they tend to kind of go after different players. Isaiah Collier, you know, visited UCLA and chose USC. So this appears to have necessitated a change in strategy for Cronin's recruiting And of course a lot of guys are going toward just depending on the transfer portal as well. So that's you know. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is going to be interesting to see how that kind of Eurocentric roster is going to adapt in the big 10.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and can they play micron and ball? I don't know. I mean he can coach. But yeah, can you make an apple in orange? I don't know, that's a great point.

Speaker 1:

It's a great point. Well, on to the next bit of news. Excitement is starting to build now that USC knows sort of where, when and against Tumut will open the 2023-24 basketball season. CBS Sports is John Rothstein reported via his sources that the Trojans will open against Kansas State in Las Vegas on November 6. Now this is sure to be a closely watched game, as Isaiah Collier and Brony James make their USC debuts. It's also a bit of a test to see just what kind of draw Brony and the rest of the squad will be. Will USC fans make the four hour trek to Sin City to see Collier and Brony's debut? How many local Vegas people will stop by out of curiosity? What do you think about this, Mark?

Speaker 2:

Full disclosure. I'm a Vegas nerd. Also, for this full disclosure, if my Vegas experience was a car, i would only have park and fifth gear. So I don't know if I can go to the game and make it with all the other stuff that's to do there. That's, you know, a little distracting, i guess.

Speaker 1:

I have to tear you away from all the other accoutrements.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, i don't know if I'll go. There's no way I would miss this game at all, though I'm definitely going to watch it one way or another.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think you should go.

Speaker 2:

Okay, that's yeah Easy sell.

Speaker 1:

I'm in. Okay, it's done. Yeah, i mean this is going to be interesting because there's a lot of hype about Brony and, to a lesser extent, unfortunately, about Collier and about USC overall. Usc should be a top 15 team, maybe a top 10 team heading into the season, and but it is a Monday night, so will USC fans come out? Will it draw a looking lose, hoping to get a glimpse of Brony? It's going to be interesting as far as like a test run to see which, what kind of showcase USC basketball can be heading into this season.

Speaker 2:

You know what else is interesting. When was the last time our season opener was not at home?

Speaker 1:

Well, that's a good question.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure we can. Yeah, you know well.

Speaker 1:

I would. The great thing about that is we can do an edit and I can. Just I have the. I have the answer for you right here, mark. It's 2014, andy Enfield's very first game at Utah State, which was a loss. Whatever, the case.

Speaker 1:

Well, whatever the case, this is a quad one type of game for the Trojans and a good opportunity to make a splash to start the season Now. The Wildcats were an elite 18 last year. They're really good, but they do lose their two best players in Marquis Noel and Keontae Johnson. They do add transfer guard Tyler Perry from North Texas and Arthur Columa from Creighton quality players, so they will reload a bit, but you'd have to expect the Trojans to have the decided edge going in, what with that talented backcourt, though they will have to bring their A game to get the win, as is usually the case against quality opponents, especially early in the season. You just don't know what's going to happen in that first game. I suspect, mark, being our resident quant, you have some thoughts on Kansas State's analytics and what kind of challenge they might present to USC.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just I call this scouting by the numbers. I saw them play a few times. I watched a good amount of Big Monday basketball on ESPN last season, so I thought I saw them a couple of times. Typical Big 12 team which I think was pretty clearly the best conference last year. Noel, like you mentioned, is gone. He was pretty easy. They're best player. Quick. Look at his metrics BPO 100 to 56.4, buscarve 248. Comp for folks that might be listening would be Jordan McLaughlin's junior season with the 56.2 BPO 100 and a 203 Buscar. That's a lot to fill in terms of the shoes that have departed.

Speaker 2:

They bring in a guard from North Texas named Tyler Perry. There was some buzz. North Texas didn't make the tournament but there was some buzz about them possibly getting an at-large bid And I think it was pretty much because of Mr Perry. His numbers were pretty much off the screen in terms of how good they were 57.5 BPO, 244 Buscar. Now again, this is at North Texas, conference USA. So just for comparison, you know Drew Peterson had two seasons at Rice, which is also in Conference USA, and his BPO was 48.6 and his Buscar was about half of what pair where he was.

Speaker 2:

So I I think mr Perry is gonna be ready for big-time ball. You know, sooner rather than later. He had only a 10% turnover rate, which would be second lowest on on USC. The only one on our roster who was lower last year was a boogie at 9%, and the guy can shoot 41.3% on three pointers and That's really interesting because K-State shot only 34.3% on threes in 2023. So You know, noel was a great player, not a great three-point shooter, so this guy's gonna give them a dimension they didn't have before. One thing he didn't mention drew him tang their coach. Last year was his first year as coach, so I think you might be seeing, you know, some more of his Thumbprints on the roster and this is a great pickup for them. So This already has me kind of losing sleep. You know what this kid might do to us.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, you know, well, you know, that's why you're one of the rising stars of basketball analytics. For those listening, we are working on getting all of Mark's Metrics online at uscbassballcom. It's a bit of a slow go because because the website just takes time to build out, but very, very soon we will have a great way to reference all these numbers. And you know, mark's analytics are really interesting and BPO was one metric, which is mark. Can you remind everybody again what BPO means?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's buckets per opportunity. Bpo 100 is actually the longer form, so it's buckets for one, 100 opportunities, just to make it more of a round number than a percentage. So it's basically just saying, for every 100 opportunities, which is defined as basically either a shot taken or a turnover or a foul created, kind of thing, how many buckets are responsible for Either from an assist or scoring points, the line or from the field.

Speaker 1:

Right. And of course the other metric is Bouscar, which is sort of a wins above replacement style Metric, and of course that is known for its reference to UCLA. Great Rico Heinz, yes.

Speaker 2:

Buckets created above Rico. It's cumulative, like you said, so it's basically just saying, for the number of opportunities that this player had, how many more buckets did they make it More than the replacement level, or Rico, as we would loving refer to him?

Speaker 1:

as For the same number of opportunities, So that's a quick recap of the analytics that mark is talking about. We should have much more information on that soon. I hope you all get a chance to go and look at the website and delve into that Once I put it on there and of course, once I do put it on there, i'll let everybody know that, hey, this page is up live and and of course, we're also going to be tracking all of our players and the team as a whole as the season goes on, so that everyone can kind of Have a reference point by which we can compare. Well, we're gonna take a few minutes now to talk about Kansas State and their pluses and minuses when it comes to basketball analytics, and, of course, mark has the beat on this whole, this whole genre. So let's throw it over to mark and have him talk a little bit about Kansas State.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, i am talking about earlier about I think you mentioned that that their best returning player. They lost a couple of really talented kids from last year Nikon Tomlin. What's interesting is his BP was 50 point zero, which actually would have put him forth on USC's team behind Drew and ahead of OSIA sellers. Interestingly, i Look at that and I think, if he's our best returning player, that just seems like a role player and I'm wondering Can this gent really step up and and be the best player? now? We spoke about Tyler Perry and how much I Think he's ready to play, so I'm just even wondering if Tomlin is ready to be a number two. Fifty point Oh, is a little low for your second best player on offense. So we'll see about that. In terms of. Also, you mentioned that they had lost their best rebounder, keontae Johnson. He went to the NBA. That could hurt them because Kansas State Rebounded their opponents only by zero point seven rebounds per game. Now again, as I mentioned, the big 12 was a great conference, but For a team that hadn't as much success as they did, that's not a big rebound margin. You would expect a team that was that you know that that's solid to be a little stronger And then losing their best rebounders gonna hurt. Now they bring in a player from Creighton named Arthur Columa. He averages 8.2 rebounds per 40 minutes. I I'll be interested to see what kind of impact he has. You know, the big east is definitely a legitimate conference, but Mr Columas BPO is only 45.3. So You this could be kind of gain something, lose something. Keontae Johnson was a better score. If you're gonna try to fill that with Columas Rebounding, you're gonna have to find some points from somewhere else. So they might be in a little bit of a tricky situation in terms of the offense that that they're trying to get outside of Their new guy. Mr Perry.

Speaker 2:

One of the thing I wanted to mention actually They're top returning player in terms of BPO is a guy named David Ingesen and I'm gonna give you some numbers here And I'm trying to figure out Kind of what this guy's game is. He had a 57.3 BPO, which is very high That's. That's better than anybody on USC team. Last year He started 18 of 29 games Interesting for your most efficient player. He shot 73 percent on two-point field Goals and he shot 47 percent from the free throw line. And he shot 47 percent from the free throw line Um, what do we have here? Is this like a? I kind of look at this and I think maybe a Jeff McMillan going back to the back a couple of eras. I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, i don't, but I don't recall him in particular. I don't recall much about him. He's from the Netherlands, of course, i think with the name, like N'Gesson it's not the kind of name you generally have in Kansas. So I think that this is a guy who's probably a bit of an enigma in that regard. See average 6.4 points per game, 3.5 rebounds. Like you said, this is probably a situation where most of his shots or dunks are put or, you know, close input backs, because he has a 70% field of percentage. So, yeah, i think that this is probably a guy who right now is probably a bit limited in his offensive game.

Speaker 2:

Or maybe he was hurt too. Why is he starting 18 of their 29 games if he's good enough to start and then maybe, i don't know, maybe because of that 46.7% free throw shooty, maybe he just Yeah, true, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So N'Gesson was at Virginia Tech before, so this was his first year last year and maybe this is the year after one season under his belt maybe he becomes a better player, i mean, but to be fair, he was only average 3.7 points at Virginia Tech the year before.

Speaker 2:

I would say also probably the culture shock of going from the ACC to the Big 12.

Speaker 1:

I just think the Big 12 is a little tougher. That's a good point. But he did improve, and the fact he improved from one place to the other I think at the time he was a guy who was probably given that Kansas State was not exactly coming off a great season, they probably were welcoming any kind of pretty good sized body they can get on the floor. Yeah, fair, okay, so what is your overall impression?

Speaker 2:

of Kansas State. So this is going to be an interesting game to me, because you've got Kansas State in a little bit of a rebuild mode More than we are. I mean, in college basketball you're always filling in for some kind of departed talent. I think that they're just in a little more of that spot. Just think back to how do you replace your equivalent with Jordan McLaughlin, especially when you're Kansas State. You're not Kansas. It's not easy, As we saw the season after Jordan McLaughlin graduated.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and a transfer, who may or may not be very good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah Yeah, that was a rough season. I'm fascinated by this Collier, Isaiah Collier versus Tyler Perry matchup. You've got this Perry gentleman who just actually shredded conference USA, So he's college ready. Do we know if he's power five ready? We think so, but we don't know so And against that we have a really highly ranked you know most of the top ranked recruit making his college debut. That's an interesting spot. The other thing is, I actually think USC will have the advantage on the interior in this game, which is not something I would expect to say often about a big USC against the big 12 team, But just with what they lose and the pieces that I see them, you know, returning and bringing in, I think that we have a little more in terms of experience and cohesion, the name I have in the interior.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, i think that's. those are really good points. And you know, as for Tyler Perry, he's five foot 11. So you're looking at, he's going to sort of play into, i think, some of Collier's strengths. Collier is a big, strong guy who will physically dominate you.

Speaker 1:

So I don't think Perry is going to be guarding Collier. But if Collier finds him matched up, he'll just, you know, run him down and run over him on the way to the basket And there's not going to be much that Perry can do about it. And I don't think that Collier is going to be matched up with Perry on defense either. I think most likely that would go over to to Boogie or possibly, possibly to possibly Kobe, if he could stick with the five 11 guy. but at least he would give him some some trouble, i think, and bother him and get him out of his comfort zone. So I don't think Isaiah has to worry too much about about handling Perry. I do think that it's going to be really hard for Kansas State to find a way to to keep Collier from getting downhill on them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, very fair, and that'll be a good. It'll be a good early kind of indication about you know not that USC will be any kind of finished product at all in the, in the whole opener. But you know, what do teams think that they can? how do they? how do teams think that they can? you know, stop USC. What do they think they're? it's going to be easiest for them to take away from us.

Speaker 1:

Now if I was Jerome Tang and I was looking at, Hey, how do I neutralize the sort of on paper advantage that Isaiah Collier brings to the table, I would say, okay, this is his first basketball game, college basketball game, And you know, everyone knows how frustrating it could be to sort of deal with the referees and the, the whole kind of flip of a coin about whether it's a charge or a block, that kind of thing.

Speaker 1:

And Collier is very aggressive and I don't think he is going to necessarily be the smartest player he's ever going to be in his first game. I think if the you know, the least smart he will ever be for USC will probably be in that first game. And so if I'm Jerome Tang, I'm trying to find ways to to get him to sort of maybe getting some early foul trouble and check that aggressiveness, to kind of take that away from him. Because once you take away Collier's ability to overpower smaller guards and just use his strength to get the ball off under the basket, Once you take that away, then he's got to rely on a jump shot. That is, you know, not horrible. He shot 35% his senior year from three point land, but maybe not as consistent as you like it at this early stage. So, but the great thing for Collier is that he can always just be a distributor whenever, whenever he needs to play whatever he needs to play conservative and just rely on things like open court opportunities and steals.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, you were, you were in your setup there, you took me one way and I thought you were going to go another, when you're talking about, basically, how you would, you know, slow down Isaiah Collier, and I thought you were going to say, maybe go to a zone defensively against Collier, and that would be interesting, because now you don't have a one-on-one matchup. Basically, you're trying to get the ball to a spot when you're going to have help all over the place, and I could see Jerome Tang just saying, okay, i'm not going to let this guy try to go nuts over a, you know, a defender that's a lot smaller than him And I'll take my chances with a Kobe Johnson and or maybe a DJ Rodman having to beat me against a zone.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's you know. That's certainly legitimate point, although the thing is if Collier can get past his guy, you know Collier can beat guys off the dribble. So Collier is the kind of guy who potentially can beat his guy at the dribble. Get to that, that middle point of the zone, and Just kind of slice and dice from there.

Speaker 2:

Yep And I. Well, the other thing too is How efficient is your? is your zone offense going to be in your opener? I don't know. I don't know where that comes in the schematic of practice. If we ever have anybody from the staff, that may be a question to ask.

Speaker 1:

I don't think that's probably day one of any kind of install, just guessing you know, these are all great points, and so your overall impression of Kansas State, though, is that they will give you a see a big challenge, or do you think it's something that that that just depends on a lot of things We just can't, we just can't know about right now.

Speaker 2:

It's not in my DNA to ever count any kind of game against a power five opponent as a win. I'll just say that.

Speaker 1:

Right, do you think? do you think? Oh, you know, it'll all be interesting to see how many people Kansas State travels, because that's certainly a fun road trip. Oh yeah, although it is a month, it is a Monday night And, as they said in, to paraphrase swingers, you know, monday night is kind of the skank shift. Yes, they did. I mean they did. they said Wednesday night at 2 am, but but for our purposes We can say Monday night.

Speaker 2:

Yep, if it's not between Thursday and Saturday, there's two shifts, there's Thursday to Sunday and there is everything else.

Speaker 1:

Well, hopefully, usc basketball has a better time in Vegas than John Favreau's character did in that movie. So we have a just a little bit of more recruiting news about the 2024 class USC had today. As we're recording this, this podcast, which is June 12th, isaiah Elohim is visiting USC. He is a six foot six top 25 star player. He is at Sierra Canyon, which is where, of course, bronny James went to school. It's where kid Johnny Wright went to school.

Speaker 1:

Isaiah Elohim, if you get a chance to look at his highlights, he is a very refined player. He's a really good athlete, forceful dunker, can shoot the ball mid-range Are from the outside. He's just a really good player and I think USC probably has a pretty good shot at Bringing him in. Also visiting Today was camp Scott, who was a six foot five Shooting guard as well. He was the Pangos camp MVP recently.

Speaker 1:

He is a really high quality player and if USC can get a sort of get one of these guys perhaps to To give some kind of commitment early going, it will be a great start to the class because USC is gonna need to To bring in, you know, two or three guards, slash wings, probably two or three bigs, depending on who returns next year and, as we know, at this day and age of college basketball, you just don't know and you certainly cannot count on players coming back.

Speaker 1:

So USC has to have a bunch of irons in the fire at all time and it looks to me That we are off to a good start and getting guys to come in and take a look at the program and Sniff around and check the tires. And, of course, if you go to USC basketball calm and look at the recruiting page, you'll see all the players right now that USC has offers out on for 2024, as you know, as far as we know, and also 2025 and even a couple for 2026. So we're gonna be following all these recruits as the season goes along and hopefully We'll know more. You know earlier on then than this last year when so many things happened later on. Mark, do you have any thoughts on I don't not sure if you've looked at any players or Any thoughts on what USC might need for the coming season or for the next season as far as the recruiting class? I.

Speaker 2:

Haven't seen anything. I haven't seen any, any video on any of the recruits for this upcoming class. But to your point, we're staring at a big unknown. We're gonna lose at least two players from this squad in boogie and DJ Rodman.

Speaker 1:

We're in this odd situation and I see a collar. And I see a collar, well, i mean likely, yeah, okay, let's just say okay, well, we'll say that yeah.

Speaker 2:

We're in this kind of odd situation where you know we've kind of pushed all our chips in for this season not all of them, but a big majority, the stack and You know, if things go well we could have the. The other side of that is we could have a lot of folks that are no longer with the program. You know, like a Vince could leave, you know Collier could leave. Who knows about brawny? I don't know If he completely blows up, i don't know if he's gonna start, i don't know. Somebody doesn't start leaves for the NBA, especially with his kind of unique circumstances. So I think at this point it's You kind of have to just recruit, almost like you're in a rebuild, just getting you know and amassing as many as possible, without really going for specific need at that point, because we don't know what the needs are gonna be.

Speaker 1:

No, absolutely. And and you know it does make sense to sort of do what you you know what you describe as an all-in kind of year, because there are these benefits to, to Recruiting potentially if you do have that great year right. So USC comes in, makes the final four and it sort of cements the team and the program as a Year-in, year-out team. That is gonna potentially challenge, for You know, the upper echelons of college basketball. So suddenly It's sort of like looking at Kansas State last year They made the lead eight. Well, they didn't really have any kind of recent success and so they're just kind of getting started. Maybe, maybe not.

Speaker 1:

Usc now, of course, has had several years of success under endfield. So if you get to this point where, hey, we reached a final four, we won a national title, we've made a title game, whatever you want to, you know, whatever kind of a standard you want to set for what this team should do success-wise, it's gonna have repercussions on the recruiting side of things, a sort of just you know the same thing with USC football, where, where people are talking about what kind of players they're getting in the summer of 2023, when there's a whole season to be played, and when that season happens, it could potentially just change the whole equation, depending on how the team does, and I think that's really the case for USC basketball Because, as you can see, a lot of things can happen really late and a lot of circumstances can change really fast, and so I think getting that Everything that has been going on with USC basketball and Andy Enfield throughout these 10 years has really culminated and pointed to this season, i think.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and one thing to kind of carry off that point is I think you saw this at Loyola Chicago when Porter Mose was there. They made a nice run in the tournament and then they kind of just went into like a consolidation, it gains for a couple years. Because a lot of that is, you know, you make this run and then you get on the grid, you get on the screen for kids that maybe you might not have otherwise and They're not seniors, they, you know, they have a couple years to go before they get in your program. They make a an impact. So you know there's a longer term aspect to this too, rather than just, hey, we're great now, we're gonna, you know, be good forever more. It just you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it doesn't look like that, unless you're one of the top. You know three or four programs.

Speaker 1:

No, exactly You're. Actually. You're expanding the battlefield. You know you can. you can do it that way, or you can, you know, try to win with Just these certain type of guys all the time, or you can just try to have a bigger pool of players from which to choose from. And obviously there's always that changing, changing calculus over. You know how many guys are transfer guys and how many guys are one and done and how many guys are our guys. You've developed over time and so I Think coaches are watching very closely what other teams are doing and how they're doing it, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone such as yourself went through and looked at what might be the best combination of Of a roster of players on a roster in order to get the best likelihood of success.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, somebody who's day job it is not their hobby.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, no doubt about it. Okay, mark, do you have anything else to add?

Speaker 2:

No, i think we just about covered it. Looking forward to what? Five months until the opener? Okay, i'll make it through, though.

Speaker 1:

Well, that wraps up another episode, the second episode of the Dunk City podcast. Of course, i'm sure we'll be back soon, depending on whether any news is warranted and we have some other ideas as far as content, about Maybe looking back into some past glory days of USC basketball and doing some features, and of course, we're also trying to get some some special guests on the podcast in the coming weeks and months Before the season. And and I hope you guys all take the time to Give us a little love on the streaming platform so we can show up higher in the search rankings. So, on behalf of Mark and myself, we hope you enjoyed the episode. We hope you're enjoying your summer. Please visit us at uscbasketballcom. If you have any questions, you can email us there uscbasketballcom at gmailcom. If there are any topics you'd like us to cover on any upcoming episodes, feel free to post them on the message board. And we're also on social media, on Twitter at USC basketball underscore, as well as tiktok. Thanks again for listening and fight on.

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