USC Basketball: Outlook on 2022-23 season

Drew Peterson, USC Basketball, USC Trojans
Drew Peterson, USC Basketball, USC Trojans / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

USC Basketball is entering a complicated season this year. What that means is that last season left a lot of questions unanswered. Does anybody really know how good that SC team was? That was a team that was setting regular season USC records, and even being ranked in the top five well past the new year.

That being said, it was the same team that also got bounced in the Round of 64 during the NCAA Tournament. The wild part about that too, is that the team they lost to (Miami) was certainly no typical 10-seed. They ended up going on a run that led them to the Elite Eight.

Not to mention, if it weren't for horrendous officiating in the NCAA Tournament, SC of course wins in that Round of 64. And judging on how far Miami went, who's to say the Trojans couldn't have gone on a deep run themselves? Still, though, they lost and it was a disappointment. Adding to the disappointment was Isaiah Mobley leaving for the NBA, as expected.

While the Trojans wish him the best, it of course creates the problem that is the amount of talent USC is returning. They return starting guards Drew Peterson (First-Team All-Pac 12 selection) and Boogie Ellis (All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention), but their best player from last year is of course gone.

On the bright side, though, SC brought in the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation this cycle. That was tops in the Pac. The issue is, the best recruit of the cycle (five-star Center Vince Iwuchukwu) ended up suffering from cardiac arrest at a practice in July. Then again, there has been optimism about a return from him from Trojan Head Coach Andy Enfield recently.

Again, for every reason not to believe in USC Basketball this year, a new reason TO believe in them pops up.

The one reason to not buy USC Basketball this year, though, is that they did not pick up much in the transfer portal. In fact, they didn't bring in a single transfer. Three teams in the conference picked up a four-star transfer, and USC was of course not one of them. That would be Arizona, Washington, and Oregon.

Does USC have to worry about Washington? Absolutely not. That's the same team that went 17-15 last year, with not even a Tournament appearance, obviously. Do they have to worry about Arizona? Well, yes, as Arizona was a Sweet Sixteen team last season and the No. 2 ranked team coming into the NCAA Tournament.

Keep in mind that that's even in the first year of Tommy Lloyd's career there, and first year ever being a head coach. They lost plenty of talent to the NBA (Dalen Terry, Christian Koloko, and Bennedict Mathurin), but they picked up a four-star transfer in Texas' Point Guard Courtney Ramey, and took a big jump this past year as soon as they brought Lloyd in. He could potentially only get better as a coach, as he gets used to being a head guy.

They had a great year last year. UCLA didn't, but they still had a good one where they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. And unlike U of A, the story of their offseason isn't in large part them losing a lot of talent, but in that what they still actually retain. G Tyger Campbell and F Jaime Jaquez Jr. started last year and are coming back. They could end up being even better than Arizona.

Especially because while they didn't have the type of recruiting class USC had, they still had a good one. They didn't have a great class like the Trojans did, but they still had a solid top 12 class with two five-stars who will probably start (Amari Bailey and Adem Bona).

Considering they had a better season than SC last year, they're another team who enters this year in a better spot than SC, and perhaps a better spot than UA. SC is rightfully not going to be ranked over those two teams when the season starts, if they're even ranked. Here's why the same may be true for USC when it comes to the Oregon Ducks:

The Ducks are another team that scooped a four-star transfer this offseason (Jermaine Couisnard), which helps them offset their disappointing recruiting class. The issue with them is that...they disappointed with talent last year. They had big expectations up in Eugene, but went 20-15 and didn't even make the tournament.

Sure, they could easily get better, but SC has been the much better program the last two years. Is getting better going to be enough for them to surpass the Trojans as the third team in the Pac-12? That remains to be seen. UCLA and Arizona should be considered the top two favorites heading into the year, with USC and Oregon behind.

Next. Game-by-game predictions for USC in 2022. dark

And with USC returning a Pac-12 Player of the Year hopeful in Peterson and bringing in a top seven recruiting class, rank them ahead of Oregon this preseason. And if SC is better than Oregon, who many are high on, don't be surprised if USC is a top 25 team this season.