By Rich Ruben
USC head coach Andy Enfield and freshman center Evan Mobley spoke with the media on Friday. Enfield compared this season’s front line to last season’s and explained how Mobley was the only player to win twice in a recent team scrimmage.
Coach Enfield’s Comments On What He Has Seen So Far
Enfield began by describing Evan as “a special talent. He runs like a guard and is a very skilled passer for his size.” The team has had two scrimmages with Pac-12 referees. The second scrimmage was divided into two 20 minute halves. Evan changed sides at the break and his team won both times.
Unlike other seasons there are no preseason scrimmages against other teams. With the Trojans’ major roster turnover it would have been very advantageous to practice against another team but the virus has caused many changes. One more scrimmage is scheduled for next week.
All three of the grad transfers play hard. Isaiah White and Chevez Goodwin “are two of the hardest working players we’ve had.”
This year’s team has an excellent front line and the point guard play of Ethan Anderson and Tajh Eaddy has been very solid. The small forwards / wings bring different styles and playing time may in part be determined by what lineup the staff wants to play for the best matchups. Max Agbonkpolo has made a big jump in his play from last year.
The team has not yet voted for team captains. Ethan Anderson and Isaiah Mobley are great leaders by example. They played a lot last year and know where everyone should be on each play.
Schedule And Team Roster
The Trojans will open against Cal Baptist on November 25. Enfield thought the rest of the schedule was set but two teams recently backed out of contracts including one team that the Trojans accommodated by rearranging other games. They expect the full non conference schedule to be completed soon. The Trojans will play BYU in their first game in the Connecticut multi team event in early December and then play either UConn or Vanderbilt in their second game, which will match winners and losers from the day before.
Enfield is aware that two Pac-12 football games set for tomorrow have been cancelled. He thinks basketball is easier to manage with a much smaller roster and staff but they are aware that things can change quickly.
This Season’s Front Line Compared To Last Season’s Group
Enfield teased me when I asked this question and couldn’t remember the third member of last season’s front line for a couple of seconds – “You haven’t watched us play for several months but it’s hard to forget Onyeka.”
“Evan will be able to fill Onyeka’s stats,” or possibly exceed them. Evan is more skilled with the ball and he envisions Evan averaging 4-5 assists a game. “Isaiah needs be more productive this year”. Enfield expects Isaiah to seamlessly replace Nick except perhaps on the offensive boards where Nick was very strong. Chevez Goodwin is 6’9” and 230 pounds and is very physical and plays with great energy and Boubacar Coulibaly is “a very good runner and jumper and plays with high energy. (This season’s) front line may be the most talented we have had.”
When asked which Mobley brother is more physical, Enfield said, “they are probably equally physical.” He went on to explain that a player doesn’t need to have a big body to play physically. The brothers are different than Onyeka. Both Mobleys can play thru contact. It has helped Evan to practice against the other bigs on the team and it’s helped the other front court players to practice against Evan.
Final Comments From Enfield
There is no word yet on whether Drew Peterson will be eligible to play this season. They are expecting to hear from the NCAA in the next few days. Although Andy didn’t address this directly, after Drew signed his LOI in the Spring the Pac-12 announced that the season would not begin before January. At that time Drew said publicly that he would redshirt this year. Several weeks ago the Pac-12 decided to join the rest of Division 1 and play 27 games beginning on November 25, only four less than the usual full season. I’m surmising that Drew decided with the coaches to seek a waiver when the Pac-12 decision came out.
If the Trojans play zone this season they may use 6’7” Isaiah White or 6’9” Max Agbonkpolo at the top of the zone much like Washington used Matisse Thybulle a few years ago when he was the conference defensive player of the year. Max and Isaiah are both quick and long.
Evan Mobley Addresses Several Topics
This was the first time I had an opportunity to talk with Evan. He comes across as very polite and a little reserved. He has “been doing a lot of shooting and the coaches are working on my form” on three point shots. His goal for this season is very simple: “I just want to win.” The biggest adjustments he’s faced are the increased physicality and the speed of the game.
Evan and Isaiah are living in an apartment with Ethan Anderson and Noah Baumann. They all spend a lot of time together and do things as a group. He has seen Isaiah grow as a leader; Isaiah will tell one of the new players if he sees a mistake on a play. The brothers have a very good connection and look for each other on offense.
Evan is listed on the newly released watch list for the national center of the year and in a very early per season list he was named a third team All American before he has played a college game. He is a very special player; Trojan fans should watch as many games as possible because Ethan is almost certainly a one and done player.