Feb 4, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; USC Trojans guard Maurice Jones (10) dribbles the ball downcourt during the game against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington defeated Southern California 69-41. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preview: USC Trojans


Last season was pretty bad for the USC Trojans. They finished their non-conference schedule with a game against #11 Kansas where they lost 63-47. This put them at an overall record of 5-8 entering their Pac-12 Conference schedule. The Trojans only had one conference win last season and finished with a Pac-12 Conference record of 1-17.

One of the biggest losses that USC will need to overcome this season is that of Maurice Jones. No, Jones did not graduate from USC last year. Jones will miss the 2012-2013 season because of academic reasons and will return to the Trojans in the 2013-2014 season. He led the team last season in points scored (416), points per game (13.0), assists (111), steals (56) and three-pointers made (52) and also was highly ranked in the Pac-12 for scoring (T-14th), assists per game (10th), steals per game (5th) and three-pointers per game (12th).

According to usctrojans.com, head coach Kevin O’Neill said, “Mo has been a great guy and great player and we want him to graduate from USC. I support him 100 percent in all that he does.”

One player that the Trojans will look to more, because of the absent of Jones, is senior forward Aaron Fuller. Last season, Fuller led the team in rebounds per game (5.9) and was second in points per game (10.6) behind Maurice Jones. The 2011-2012 season was his first season with the USC Trojans and before that he spent two years playing for Iowa. Fuller will need to step up in Jones’ absence though.

A big transfer coming to USC for this season is former Rice Owl, Omar Oraby. Oraby only averaged six points per game last season for the Owls, but led the team in blocks per game (1.6). He will be a nice defensive player for the Trojans and he is not like most big men because his free throw percentage wasn’t too bad. Last season at Rice, Oraby made 47 free throws on 66 attempts and had a free throw percentage of 71.2 percent.

If gaining a 7-foot-2 center this season was not enough for USC, they gained another tall freshman for the 2012-2013 season. One of the biggest recruits for the Trojans this season is Strahinja Gavrilovic from Serbia. Gavrilovic stands at a 6-foot-8 and is 225 pounds. The best way to describe his game would be competitive with zero flash. He is not the most athletic player, but makes up for it with sound fundamentals.

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Tags: Basketball Featured Maurice Jones Omar Oraby Pac-12 Popular USC Trojans