Former USC Basketball commit Taeshon Cherry pledges for ASU

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

USC Basketball’s FBI probe woes only grew on Tuesday night when former commit Taeshon Cherry, a five-star prospect, announced his commitment to ASU.

The FBI probe into bribery in college basketball has already had a major affect on USC’s 2017-18 season, but the impact could be even more far-reaching.

Sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton was suspended for the entire season while the Trojans lost commitments from highly-touted recruits Taeshon Cherry and J’Raan Brooks after assistant coach Tony Bland was arrested in connection with the probe.

Now, USC’s loss is a Pac-12 rivals’ gain as Cherry, a five-star recruit, announced his commitment to ASU on Tuesday night.

Ranking No. 27 nationally, per the 247Sports composite, Cherry was to be the crown jewel of USC’s 2018 class and the highest-ranking recruit since DeMar DeRozan.

The in-conference flip is particularly crushing as ASU’s rise in the Pac-12 power struggle solidifies. The Sun Devils started the season on a surprising undefeated run. Though they have since lost three games, they still rank No. 16 in the AP Top 25. Next year, USC will have to face an ASU lineup featuring the talented forward.

Moreover, Cherry comes from a Trojan household. His grandfather went to USC.

However, a source cited in the LA Times identified Cherry as the recruit linked to Bland’s alleged misconduct.

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Though his family denied such claims, his grandfather, Paul Phipps, told the Times that USC did back off the recruitment: “I just feel like USC decided that anybody associated with Tony Bland is probably someone they didn’t want to be associated with.”

Phipps called USC “risk intolerant” because of the Reggie Bush saga. The Sun Devils were clearly more willing to take the risk on one of the nation’s most promising prospects in spite of alleged connection to the FBI probe.

ASU’s 2018 class now ranks 18th nationally and second in the Pac-12. USC’s had been No. 1 in the country for a time, but two de-commitments have seen the Trojans slide down to No. 39.

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USC still does boast two Top 50 players in the class, however. Both four-star point guard Elijah Weaver and four-start shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr. have signed letters of intent for the Trojans and will bolster the roster next season.