USC Basketball: Why JT Terrell Has Silenced Critics


Feb 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans guard J.T. Terrell (20) reacts after making a 3-point basket against the Washington Huskies at the Galen Center. USC defeated Washington 71-60. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

When J.T. Terrell officially transferred to USC, he was claimed by ESPN Scouts to be the savior for a program dying for star power on a nightly basis. After watching pre-season practice, and a good deal of games to begin the season, fans saw sparks of brilliance and long-stretches of failure.

Coming in as an ESPN Top-100 Prospect out junior college, J.T. Terrell hit rock-bottom with USC when he was benched by former head coach Kevin O’Neill in a December 15th bout with UC Riverside. Terrell was left to sulk in embarrassment as USC was dominating the scoreboard, yet continued to ride the pine.

As a way of toying with him, O’Neill gave Terrell a chance with two minutes to play. Terrell came into the game with a sense of focus and drained two shots, including a three in front of the Trojans sideline, bringing the crowd to its feet in the 70-26 victory.

There are many things about Terrell’s game that drive fans insane. For example, his the pre-game dunk rituals and the shots out of the flow of the offense and the poor perimeter defense at times.

That played into the reasoning as to why Terrell never fit in with Kevin O’Neill’s team-first, shoot-second mentality, which resulted in Terrell playing hesitant basketball, and always waiting for the approval of his coaches.

There are many factors that have contributed to Terrell’s success over the past seven games, but one can not overlook the impact of playing with confidence and security can provide. Not to say Terrell is avoiding these characteristics now, but the man has become more lively on the court and a supportive teammate off the floor.

In his last seven games, Terrell has been more efficient from the field, shooting 40 percent on 101 shots. In his first 17 games combined, he shot just 31 percent on 154 shots.

This increase in efficiency is boosting his scoring total through the roof at over 13 per game under Cantu, as compared to 9.6 beforehand.

Whenever Terrell is sitting, which is rare in the last month, he is one of the first guys to support Ari Stewart, Jio Fontan or whomever is taking his minutes. As a Junior, he realizes that this team will be his to lead next season once senior captain Fontan graduates. The scoring prowess Terrell provides makes him the go-to option late in the game, something the Trojans have desperately needed.

“I just really like to have fun and just want the fans to have fun too,” Terrell said after a game-high 18 point performance on 6-12 shooting.

If college basketball has taught us anything its that one hot player can carry a team down the stretch in February and March towards great success. Terrell has scored over 20 points three times this season, showcasing his ability to put a team on his back in the most crucial moments.

At the same time, these types of players can also lead to a teams demise if they struggle to play their game. That being said, J.T. Terrell may actually have just enough ice in his vains to be the closer for the 2012-2013 USC Trojans.

Here are some of the best moments from 2013 that Terrell has provided to silence the so-called critics.

4. Three-Point Clinic on The Road At Arizona State

3. Team-Oriented Play in 2013, Leading to 6-5 Record With Him in Lineup

2. Resounding Dunk To Enhance Rivalry with UCLA

1. Carried USC Offensively Against No. 10 Oregon, Scoring 22 points on 50-percent Shooting

USC will need J.T. Terrell’s best as the most important part of their schedule approaches. For the Trojans to win ball games against far-superior talent, they must rely upon their playmaker to help this team take the next step as a program.