USC Basketball Features In Way-Too-Early Top 25 Rankings Across Web

Mar 19, 2017; Tulsa, OK, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield looks on during the first half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2017; Tulsa, OK, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield looks on during the first half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BOK Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /

USC basketball makes the cut for a number of Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings for the 2017-18 college basketball season.

Hopes are high for USC basketball next season after the Trojans came within just a few points of a Sweet 16 appearance this year.

That’s evident in just how many Too-Early Top 25 lists USC makes an appearance on now that North Carolina has been crowned champion and the 2016-17 season is officially over.

Here’s a look at where the Trojans stand and how the media views their chances next season:

CBS Sports — No. 12

Gary Parrish’s Top 25 (and 1) features USC at No. 12 and he gives them a shot at competing for the conference title.

"USC is always susceptible to an underclassmen or two making a curious pro decision, for whatever reason. But if everybody who should return to school does return to school, the Trojans just might win their first Pac-12 regular-season championship since 1985."

Arizona checks in at No. 2, with UCLA tumbling to No. 21 following the departure of Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf.

Fox Sports — No. 12

Aaron Torres also likes the Trojans at No. 12, going a step further and calling USC a potential Final Four contender, if not more.

"The Trojans had eight players average at least 10 minutes a game this season, and all eight are scheduled to return next season (Shaqqan Aaron will test the waters but should be back). If that happens, and with the additions of Duke transfer Derryck Thornton and top recruit Chuck O’Bannon, it isn’t a stretch to call the Trojans a legitimate Final Four contender. And possibly a national title contender as well."

Torres is more generous towards UCLA than others, setting them No. 9 in his ranking while Arizona gets the nod at No. 1.

Sports Illustrated — No. 13

Seth Davis ranks the Trojans 13th, the second-ranked Pac-12 squad behind only Arizona at No. 1. UCLA doesn’t appear until No. 19 as the only other representative of the conference.

"Unlike last year, Andy Enfield is not losing underclassmen to the NBA. He is also adding Derryck Thornton, a 6’1” transfer from Duke, and Charles O’Bannon Jr., a top 50 recruit with UCLA bloodlines."

The Comeback — No. 13

Jesse Kramer concurs with that No. 13 ranking for USC and the No. 1 ranking for Arizona, but UCLA appears at No. 23.

"Barring unforeseen transfers, USC will return its top eight players while adding Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. and a top 25 recruiting class. This team was more than solid when Bennie Boatwright was healthy, and they proved that by winning a pair of NCAA Tournament games and then nearly knocking off Baylor to reach the Sweet 16."

Yahoo! Sports — No. 14

Jeff Eisenberg and Henry Bushnell see bright things ahead for the Trojans, ranking them No. 14.

Arizona No. 2 , UCLA No. 19

"If NBA draft decisions go Andy Enfield’s way, the Trojans will have everybody back from a team that fell a few possessions short of the Sweet 16. Enfield went 2-16 and 3-15 in the Pac-12 in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, but as he’s gotten his own players in to replace the leftovers of the previous regime, his program has been steadily rising. The 2017-18 season could turn out to be what USC has been building toward."

Arizona grabs the No. 2 spot while UCLA sits No. 19. Oregon also gets an “others considered” mention.

SB Nation — No. 14

Mike Rutherford expects USC to continue their rise under Enfield, ranking the Trojans No. 14, behind Arizona at No. 3 but ahead of UCLA at No. 25.

"Andy Enfield quietly did one of the best coaching jobs in all of college basketball last season. After an overachieving 2015-16, his team appeared to be all set to have “the year” before a wave of unexpected departures left the program in a state of disarray…With the nucleus of that team returning and a top 20 recruiting class joining the fold, “the year” might finally be here for Enfield’s program."

ESPN — Honorable Mention

Eamonn Brennan doesn’t include the Trojans in his Top 25, but does give them a nod as an honorable mention. UCLA barely made the cut at No. 23 while Oregon takes the place USC held in many other rankings at No. 13. Arizona is a conspicuously low No. 11.

It’s clear that USC’s prospects for the 2017-18 season are wide-ranging but potentially very exciting.

Most of their rankings in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 circuit are tenuous — reliant on the return of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu.

Those decisions have not yet been made, but perhaps it says something that so many appear to believe the duo will make a return.

More from Reign of Troy

Should they come back for their junior seasons, the future should be especially bright for USC.

If they opt to leave, then don’t expect to see the Trojans ranked so highly when preseason Top 25’s come around.

From a bigger picture standpoint, one thing is clear: media from around the country don’t have particularly high hopes for the Pac-12 next season.

Arizona remains pegged as a contender, but UCLA is expected to take a step back next year while few have much faith in Oregon’s ability to stay relevant.

On the one hand, that’s not good for the conference. On the other hand, it’s a sign of just how strong USC’s chances of competing for the Pac-12 title could be in 2017-18.