I figured since most of the “big shot” bloggers had cool, witty names for their columns and articles, I might try and pretend to be in their exclusive fraternity by dubbing this USC Basketball News & Notes piece – “Dispatch from Galen.” One, it sounds cool. Two, dispatch is an underrated word (yes, I’m nerdy enough to call words overrated or underrated). And three, references to Galen are tight. So, if you combine these elements, you have a pretty trendy title. So, even in the midst of a painfully slow offseason here for Kevin O’Neill and company, we got some USC/College Basketball tidbits that you might want to keep in mind.
For one, the biggest shakeup in the Southern California college hoops scene is the expected transferring of twin North Carolina forwards Davis and Travis Wear. The Wears, Orange County natives who played high school basketball at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, may be looking to return to the west coast much like former North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who ended up at USC. From the Los Angeles Times:
David and Travis Wear, twin forwards who helped Santa Ana Mater Dei High win two state championships, are transferring from North Carolina and are expected to draw significant interest from UCLA.
The Wears, who are both 6 feet 10, will have three years of remaining eligibility. Both strongly considered UCLA and Arizona out of high school before signing with the Tar Heels.
North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, “I would imagine UCLA would be interested.”
There’s no question that UCLA should be the favorite to land the twins. Historically speaking, there is no question that the Bruins are the premier college basketball program in the Pac-10, and when it comes to the tradition between the two schools, USC pales in comparison. But when it comes to recent results, there is a very small gap that exists between the two programs. The Trojans have posted three consecutive wins over the Bruins, who are also coming off just their third losing season since 1948. For two players who are citing “geographic reasons” for leaving North Carolina, they have to be considering ‘SC – at least on some level. After all, it’s important to note, that when they were actually considering committing to Arizona a few years back, Kevin O’Neill was the interim coach of the Wildcats.
I have no problem with calling the Bruins the favorites to land the Wear twins, but at the same, there’s no reason to think that O’Neill and the Trojans don’t have the guns to haul in two big fish like the Wears as well.
Even still, there are some doubts regarding what kind of impact the they can make, as the Mater Dei products had less than stellar first seasons in Chapel Hill.
Travis, who weighs 235 pounds, averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 32 games for the Tar Heels last season. David, who weighs 225, averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds but missed the last five games with a hip injury. He should be 100% healthy in another month, his father indicated.
To make matters more complicated, it doesn’t appear as if the North Carolina faithful were exactly clamoring to keep them around on Tobacco Road. From the message board over at WeAreSC.com:
I am a recent Carolina graduate who will be attending USC for Graduate school in the fall and trust me you do not want them. This entire season they have shown a lack of post skills. They play like two over-sized, under-skilled small forwards, which makes them essentially useless. They’re too big to guard smaller players but lack the ability to post up big ones. Essentially, all they could do at UNC was rebound and shoot 15-footers.
Nonetheless, could USC afford to not actively pursue two 6’10” big men with the ability to rebound and knock down 15-foot jump shots? Absolutely not. I don’t see why a rocky start should or would be any deterrent for O’Neill’s staff. Not every freshman has a banner year in his first season at a school.
Remaining on the topic of recruiting, former Trojan commit Dwayne Polee Jr. finally decided where he will be attending college, as the LA native will reportedly sign with St. John’s in the coming days. (On a side note, the combination of a former Trojan commit playing for Steve Lavin has to make him absolutely despised in Westwood.) From ZagsBlog.com:
New St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has landed his first recruit since taking over the Big East program.
Dwayne Polee, an athletic 6-foot-7 wing from Los Angeles Westchester High School, chose the Johnnies over Georgia and Oregon, which he visited last weekend.
“Yes,” he wrote via text on Thursday. “It’s somewhere where I can focus on school and basketball.”
Described as “the best dunker in high school basketball,” Polee averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds last season when he led Westchester to the state championship. The Los Angeles Times named him City Player of the Year.
Polee is certainly a talented player who would have been a big addition at any school. But frankly, I’m a little surprised he chose to go to a school in the Big East. For one, it’s considered to be the premier conference in college hoops, and as a result, there are some doubts as to whether he can be a big-time star, which would have been a more likely occurrence in either the SEC at Georgia or in the Pac-10 at Oregon. But even still, I like to think I speak for all ‘SC fans when I wish him the best with Lavin and company. His future is still bright nonetheless.
In the meanwhile, as this long offseason continues, I’d like to also point out that both Kevin O’Neill and Lane Kiffin will be making stop at seven California cities this month as part of the USC coaches speaking tour. From USCTrojans.com:
The tour stops are: May 19 (Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena), May 20 (Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village), May 24 (San Diego Marriott Del Mar), May 26 (Hyatt Regency Irvine), June 2 (Manhattan Beach Marriott), June 4 (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells) and June 10 (San Francisco Airport Marriott).
It’s a big difference from where things were a year ago, as last May, Pete Carroll and Tom Floyd, two incredibly charismatic and well-spoken guys, were making stops along the west coast to speak with boosters, alumni, and fans. Now, Trojan supporters will have the “privilege” of listening to O’Neill and Kiffin, who have never been incredibly well-regarded for their public speaking abilities. Not that either is inadequate, but neither really gets someone excited to throw down a bunch of money to listen to them talk. But even still, Kiffin may throw in a few UCLA digs, and it’s always fun to see how fast K.O. can get irked by something. If you’re interested, I hope you check it out.