USC Basketball: Chimezie Metu to reportedly sit out NIT game vs. UNC Asheville

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Chimezie Metu
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Chimezie Metu /

Star power forward Chimezie Metu will sit out USC Basketball’s first round NIT matchup with UNC Asheville on Tuesday night, according to a report.

USC Basketball will be without their star man as the NIT tips off at Galen Center on Tuesday night: Chimezie Metu does not plan to suit up.

The report comes from Max Meyer of Sports Illustrated, citing a source “affiliated with USC basketball.”

On Monday, head coach Andy Enfield wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a player sitting out. Now we know why.

Metu’s decision is being compared to that of Christian McCaffrey or any number of college football players who opted not to risk injury by playing in “meaningless” bowl games.

In this case, the NIT qualifies as “meaningless” because of the disappointment USC feels missing out on the NCAA Tournament. The Trojans were considered a bubble team, but one likely to make the cut, going into Selection Sunday. They were blindsided when they were not named among the 68 teams who will be dancing this March despite finishing second in the Pac-12.

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Now, it seems Metu will protect himself for the NBA Draft this year rather than participate in what amounts to a consolation tournament.

That should be a boost for UNC Asheville, who are double-digit underdogs going into Tuesday’s matchup.

Metu’s absence means the Trojans will have just one big, Nick Rakocevic, with any real experience available on the night. Enfield could turn to sophomore Harrison Henderson and freshman Victor Uyaelunmo, who have seen limited minutes this season, to fill the gap.

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Luckily for the Trojans, they won’t be facing a Bulldog team with any great length. UNC Asheville is a small-ball team with four of their five projected starters standing 6-foot-3 or shorter. Jonathan Baehre is the tallest player on the roster at 6-foot-9.

Tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. on ESPN2.