College Basketball Nation: Percy Miller

Incoming freshmen should anticipate major adjustments at the Division I level. The players are bigger, stronger and faster.

But the uptick in competition is only part of the transition from high school to college. The 21st-century college basketball player should understand off-court expectations, too.

They're all about adhering to proper swagger etiquette.

I hope you all have notepads ready. Here’s what you’ll need to get ready for Division I basketball off the floor:

  • An Instagram account: Twitter is so 2011. These days, college basketball players send messages through photos via Instagram. It’s a cool tool. You take photos, attach a brief memo and ship the image to the world. Or if you’re Jared Sullinger, you send photos of text-message exchanges with other All-America forwards. You need this. Trust me.
  • Friendships with rappers: Blame Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. Lil Wayne’s highly publicized crush on the talented guard dramatically increased her street cred and Twitter follower count. Jay-Z sat behind Kentucky’s bench during the Final Four. Romeo Miller (the onetime Lil' Romeo who now just goes by Romeo) didn’t just support USC basketball. He actually joined the team. Find a rapper. Become his friend.
  • Fashionable specs: I know. You have 20/20 vision. Doesn’t matter. This is all about style. I learned about this recent development in college basketball fashion from Michigan State’s Adreian Payne. He says his black glasses project sophistication. It’s either that or an affinity for Clark Kent.
  • [+] EnlargeNerlens Noel
    Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesNerlens Noel brings a signature coif to Kentucky ... but does he have the right backpack?
  • The Kevin Durant backpack: Throw the gym bag in the trash. That’s old school. You need a backpack. Not a normal backpack. You won’t haul anything in it. You need a backpack that’s also a fashion statement. Durant’s backpack -- one he wears to postgame press conferences -- started this trend.
  • Access to a state-of-the-art facility: Florida State’s players get access to their team’s practice facility by placing their hands on some sort of “Star Trek” detection device. Indiana’s facility features underwater treadmills in the training room, his and hers gyms for the men’s and women’s squads and an atrium that doubles as a museum for Indiana basketball. Players’ lounges -- think college kids bonding, not “Shaft” -- are standard, too. And then, there’s Oklahoma State’s basketball facility. Is that legal?
  • Trend-setting hair: Nerlens Noel is covered. But what about the rest of the incoming freshmen? Will your hair matter? It definitely did for Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz. Stores in Madison sell wigs of his former curly-afro look. Still waiting for the cornrows version. The hair on top of St. Louis guard Jordair Jett’s head can only be described as majestic. Talk to your barber about this.
  • Beats by Dre headphones: Yes, they’re $300 headphones, but a multitude of college players wears them and, somehow, purchases them. They’re a necessity, I guess. You either have a pair of mammoth Beats by Dre headphones or you don’t wear headphones in public as a Division I basketball player. I don’t think the headphones offer a real advantage over their competitors. But, they’re the norm for college basketball players. The obsession with Dr. Dre’s headphones among NBA players has certainly trickled down. Even high school players demand them now. Put it on the shopping list.

Feel free to add on …

USC crushes UCLA in intro video

December, 10, 2010
USC doesn't host crosstown rival UCLA at the Galen Center until Jan. 9 and has four home games before then, but that didn't stop the Trojans from releasing a new intro video that shows the SC logo smashing UCLA's to bits.

USC has a three-game winning streak against UCLA to boast about, and there's plenty of other things going on in the video.

While the theme music from the movie "Inception" plays in the background, fans are asked to "Witness The Rise" as coach Kevin O'Neill says some motivational words and forward Nikola Vucevic declares, "This is our house."

Viewers are also treated to images of USC's past such as Desmon Farmer dancing, former coach Henry Bibby smiling and hugging someone, and Lil' Romeo helping celebrate the 2009 Pac-10 tournament title.

The Trojans have had an up-and-down season thus far, so maybe this intro to their games will fire them for what's to come.

Lil' Romeo no match for NBA player's dunk

May, 28, 2010
Percy Miller, aka the rapper Lil' Romeo, recently left USC because, as coach Kevin O'Neill told the Orange County Register, "I think his future is more off the court than on the court."

This video of Miller in his Trojan basketball shorts trying to defend the Denver Nuggets' J.R. Smith at Vince Young's charity-celebrity basketball game on Saturday does little to dispel that idea.

Smith goes coast-to-coast for the dunk, and let's just say Miller, a 5-foot-11 sophomore who played 19 minutes for USC over two seasons, isn't able to impede Smith's progress.

Good for Miller for playing the day after USC announced his departure, but it's not a pretty sight considering Miller's image was used to promote an event during which he barely avoided getting posterized.

Lil' Romeo won't return to USC

May, 20, 2010
Percy Miller, better known in hip hop circles as Lil' Romeo, will not return to USC for his junior season, coach Kevin O'Neill told the Los Angeles Daily News.

The 5-foot-11 guard scored two points in three games this season, missing most of the year due to a shoulder injury. His Trojans career lasted all of nine games.

Brought into the program by former coach Tim Floyd, Miller was best known for being childhood friends with one-and-done USC standout DeMar DeRozan and famously getting a scholarship when he appeared to have enough money as a low-level recruit to have one endowed in his name.

Miller's signing out of high school did bring publicity to the school, and I witnessed first-hand this season how he could at times be considered one of the most notable Trojans on the team despite playing sparingly.

When USC played Stanford on the road, one Cardinal fan brought to the game a handmade sign complete with Lil' Romeo magazine photos and heart-shaped cutouts.

The fan expressed disappointment about not being able to taunt Miller, who had not made the trip with the team. USC coaches, after all, seemed to always have trouble finding ways to use him on the court.