Why USC Basketball's preseason media ranking isn't 100% discouraging

Andy Enfield, USC Basketball, USC Trojans
Andy Enfield, USC Basketball, USC Trojans / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC Basketball was picked to finish fourth in this year's preseason media poll. UCLA was picked first, Arizona was picked second, and Oregon was picked third. All three received at least three first-place votes.

While it may seem disappointing that SC is below the programs that have been the ones gaining national hype as the true PAC-12 contenders, the reality is that this is in fact progress for the USC Trojans. USC has not been ranked in the preseason top four in back-to-back seasons since 2001-2002. Now, they have gotten there again. Clearly, things are trending up for the program.

Because it's more than just ranking in the top four of the preseason media poll in back-to-back years. This is the same program that's coming off of a season where they had the most regular season wins in SC history (25). They also tied the most amount of total wins (26) that they've ever had.

And despite their early exit in the NCAA Tournament, they still had a player drafted to the NBA over the summer. USC now is tied with UNC for the fourth-most players on NBA rosters right now of any school (11).

PAC-12 Media Day also revealed that SC has multiple preseason First-Team All-PAC 12 selections. Again, things aren't all bad. There's talent within this program despite four draft picks leaving in the last four years (three being first round draft picks, and two being top 6 overall draft picks).

USC Basketball also just brought in the No. 7 recruiting class in all of college basketball (247Sports).

That's an elite class that USC Basketball brought in for 2022, and there are rumblings that they are going to bring in a super class for 2023.

So, the play on the court has been improving, the player development to the NBA is improving, recruiting is improving, and the coaching is also improving. Remember that Head Coach Andy Enfield was named PAC-12 Coach of the Year just two seasons ago, in a season where the Trojans won less games than this past year.

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He's got the program trending in the right direction, and so much that it's evident even when the Trojans aren't even top three in the conference for back to back years. The trajectory is still there, which truly puts SC in sleeper territory this year, where they could surprise people this season. The momentum and health of the program is certainly there.