By Rich Ruben
Andy Enfield and the USC staff added a commitment over the weekend as the Trojans continue building a very good 2021 recruiting class.
Junior College Star KJ Allen Commits To Trojans
College basketball doesn’t start the 2020-2021 season for three and a half weeks. But in the meantime, the Trojan staff has been busy on the recruiting trail for 2021 and now has secured five commitments. Yesterday USC received a commitment from East Los Angeles College star forward KJ Allen. One recruiting service has Allen ranked third among national juco players in the 2021 class. KJ is 6-foot-6 and is the former LA City Player of the Year from powerhouse Westchester (the following season Ethan Anderson was the City POY at Fairfax).
Allen’s skill set differs from the other Trojan players. He averaged 18 points as a freshman at East LA by playing bully ball inside by using his body to create space. KJ doesn’t have an outside shot but his inside game is very advanced. He picked the Trojans over several other Pac-12 schools and other national programs.
Assumptions About The 2021 Roster
Evan Mobley will be a one-and-done player and a high NBA draft pick next year. There is uncertainty if a few other players will be with the team next season. Isaiah Mobley will likely also enter the draft next year if he has a big season. And I understand the NCAA special pandemic rules provide this year’s three grad transfers the option to play an additional season for the Trojans
With the assumption that all five Trojan commits are on next’s year’s team, here is a look at the likely roster.
Trojans’ 2021 Front Court Players
Former Big West Defensive Player of the Year Josh Morgan will be a redshirt sophomore. Josh will provide good defense and rebounding. Very athletic Boubacar Coulibaly will also bring solid defense and great rebounding and energy inside. At this point neither can score outside the post though they are working to extend their offensive game.
Six-foot-nine commit Harrison Hornery is a completely different type of player. He is originally from Australia and like most Aussies he is a good perimeter scorer. He’s playing at Mater Dei and is ranked No. 143 in the 2021 class. For comparison, Nick Rakocevic was ranked about the same place in his class.
This group along with KJ Allen will be very good defensively and on the boards and should provide at least average offense. If Isaiah Mobley or Chevez Goodwin return next year the front court group will be excellent.
Max Agbonkpolo will be a junior next season unless he decides to declare for the draft or transfer. Last season Coach Enfield said that Max had more long term potential than any player on the team including Big O. With a lot of minutes this year Max will have opportunities behind the arc and to use his quickness to drive inside.
Drew Peterson will be a big addition next season. He is 6-foot-7 and averaged as many assists per game last year at Rice as Ethan Anderson averaged for the Trojans. He can handle the ball, rebound, drive to the rim and score from outside.
Isaiah White has received the most praise from Enfield so far among the three grad transfers. Isaiah will have the option to return next season and would be a team leader if he does return. Isaiah doesn’t have a reliable outside shot at this point but he does everything else very well. Several of the guards on next year’s team can also play small forward if needed, similar to Elijah Weaver and Daniel Utomi last season.
The Trojans Will Have A Talented And Deep Group Of Guards
Ethan Anderson will be a junior next year and Noah Bauman will be a redshirt senior. Tajh Eaddy will have the option to return. They form an experienced core .
The Trojans have commitments from three high school guards who have a chance to impact the program over several seasons like Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart and Jonah Mathews. The highest ranked recruit at number 53 is 6’5” Reese Dixon Waters. Reese has an advanced all around game and may be under rated entering his senior season. Malik Thomas is now ranked No. 83, moving up the rankings 15-20 places after a very solid AAU summer. Thomas is 6-foot-3 and has a good perimeter game. The third high school guard commit is 6-foot-3 Kobe Johnson. He moved up almost 100 spots in the player rankings to No. 229 after an outstanding AAU summer. Analysts have said Kobe is a very good defender, a strong rebounder and plays very well in the clutch
The 2021-2022 Team Should Be Deep And Talented
Enfield and his staff continue to recruit well. Next year the Trojans will not have a five star recruit unless Isaiah Mobley returns but will have a lot of competition at every position. The team should be talented and have less roster turnover over the next few years.