USC basketball's offseason won't compare to UCLA's, with the Bruins adding on big-time recruits Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker, but the Trojans will also be a heck of a lot better in 2012-13 than they were in 2011-2012.
Of course, it doesn't take a lot to be a lot better than 6-26. But 15 wins is probably the baseline for next season's Trojans team, with 20 victories and NCAA tournament contention both legitimate possibilities. To that end, here is a projection of USC's 2012-2013 roster and lineup, taking into account the Trojans' remaining scholarship slot, which stands to be used on a transfer, probably a wing player of some sort.
That could very well be former Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge, who's visiting USC for the second time this weekend. So we took the liberty of including him here. It also could not, as the Trojans continue to pursue other prospects.
But here is the projected 2012-2013 lineup and, in basic order of contribution to the team, the bench. We provide brief comments on each player:
PG Jio Fontan -- Has experience running the point and proved effective doing it in the Pac-12
SG J.T. Terrell -- Can certainly score and should average ~15 points in the Trojans' conference
F Renaldo Woolridge -- Never developed into an offensive threat at UT but has potential
F Ari Stewart -- A key 3-point threat and also big enough to guard most power forwards
C Dewayne Dedmon -- Needs to be a 12-point, eight-rebound guy for Trojans to be good
G Mo Jones -- Plenty of starting time but probably better off the bench; 20-25 minutes ideal
F Aaron Fuller -- Was a serviceable starting forward last season and could still start
G Byron Wesley -- Played a ton last year and got better later; Needs to develop his shot
F Eric Wise -- UC Irvine transfer should be productive in his minutes; Who will he guard?
C James Blasczyk -- Energy big man who will be foul-trouble insurance for Dedmon
G Brendyn Taylor -- Doesn't bring in much prep experience and doesn't stand to play a ton
F Strahinja Gavrilovic -- An unknown to most and also more of a project player right away
There are strengths to that lineup. For one, there is actual depth at most every position, meaning that the Trojans could lose a player or two due to injury and not be totally dismantled like last season. For another, there is a more wide range of scoring options -- Terrell has proven to be a scorer at the major-college level, and Fontan and Stewart can both score in double-digits too.
Blasczyk will be a much better player when all he has to do is back up Dedmon for 10 or so minutes a game, and Wesley should also be better with more limited minutes, too. Anything from Taylor and/or Gavrilovic will be bonus, but, even without those two, USC seems to have a clear 10-man rotation with one starter and one reserve at every position.
If Woolridge doesn't end up signing with the Trojans and USC brings in a non-starter with that scholarship, then Stewart probably slides down to the small-forward slot and Fuller moves into the starting lineup. And even if Woolridge does sign by May 16, the regular signing period deadline, it's plausible Fuller could still start over him.