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Monday, March 19, 2012
Basketball: Where the recruiting class stands

By Pedro Moura

Only one team USC played in 2011-2012 is still around in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament: second-seeded Kansas.

The Trojans played a few other eventual NCAA tourney teams this season, including No. 12-seeded Cal, No. 11-seeded Colorado, No. 5-seeded New Mexico and No. 6-seeded UNLV and San Diego State. They lost to all of them, with the closest thing to a win coming in the third game of the season against SDSU.

But enough about the tournament, which resumes Thursday. Let's take a look at where the Trojans could be next season and, more specifically, let's take a look at the makings of the next USC recruiting class.

Two players already signed in November, during the early signing period: guard J.T. Terrell and forward Strahinja Gavrilovic. Terrell is a junior-college transfer from Wake Forest who's expected to start right away next November. Gavrilovic, from the San Diego area, stands to be a non-factor in his first season with the Trojans.

The third spot is where things start to get interesting. USC had a commitment from Arizona prep point guard Dewayne Russell until a few weeks ago, when he de-committed shortly after the Trojans got another commitment from Woodland Hills Taft guard Brendyn Taylor.

The 6-3 Taylor, the younger brother of former Oregon guard Bryce Taylor, has not had a ton of high-school experience but is believed to be a Pac-12 talent as a combo guard. Russell was thought to be more of a true point guard at 5-10.

And here's where things get really interesting. USC was already at the scholarship max this season, so for every player the Trojans take on, they have to lose one from the 2011-2012 squad. Forward Garrett Jackson was the first to go, with USC announcing last week he had been granted his release to transfer.

Assuming Taylor signs in the normal signing period between April 11 and May 16, two more players will be leaving. The natural assumption is those will be forwards Curtis Washington and Evan Smith, who have both struggled with shoulder injuries over the past two seasons (Smith the past three, actually).

If Terrell, Gavrilovic and Taylor are the only thee players the Trojans sign, then things will stay under control. But USC pursued Harvard-Westlake forward Zena Edosomwan vigorously until he committed to Harvard last week, and the Trojans continue to recruit national top prospect Shabazz Muhammad, although the odds appear against him coming to USC.

Any more signings would mean more departures, obviously.