Andy Enfield’s 10th season as head coach of Southern California tips off Monday in Los Angeles against his former program, Florida Gulf Coast.
USC embarks on the 2022-23 campaign in the familiar spot of replacing key talent from the prior season: After losing one-and-done standouts-turned-NBA lottery picks Onyeka Okongwu and Evan Mobley in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively, the Trojans replace three-year key contributor Isaiah Mobley heading into this year.
However, a veteran backcourt provides a foundation for USC to reach a third consecutive NCAA Tournament and potentially contend for a Pac-12 title. Versatile wing Drew Peterson (12.4 points per game) and defensive stopper Boogie Ellis (12.5) finished as two of the team’s top three scorers a season ago, and Peterson finished third in rebounds (6.2) and tied for first in assists (3.3).
“They’ve had outstanding careers so far,” Enfield said of Peterson and Ellis during Pac-12 media day in October. “We’re looking forward to them leading our group of sophomores and freshmen.”
The incoming corps of freshmen made up a highly rated signing class, which has become the standard for USC in recent years. Ranked No. 9 nationally by 247Sports, the group includes 5-star center and 7-foot-1 pro prospect Vince Iwuchukwu.
As for the sophomores, the group includes Reese Dixon-Waters, a primary contributor off the bench a season ago, and Kobe Johnson, who was voted a team captain.
Before his tenure at USC, Enfield led Florida Gulf Coast to national prominence in 2013 as the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The team earned the moniker of “Dunk City” for its entertaining style of play.
The Eagles proved not to be one-year wonders, reaching the NCAA Tournament twice more after Enfield’s departure. They welcome a new head coach this season in Pat Chambers, formerly of Penn State and a longtime assistant to Jay Wright at Villanova.
Chambers inherits a trio of capable shooters from a team that won 22 games a season ago: Cyrus Largie, who knocked down almost 51.8 percent of his shots from the floor in 2021-22, while Caleb Catto (54) and Austin Richie (56) combined to make 110 3-pointers.
Chambers praised Catto as “the glue” speaking the Naples Daily News in the fall.
“Everybody respects him, everybody trusts him, everybody loves him,” Chambers said. “To have somebody like that as a new coach to lean on, to be able to ask questions, that’s really vital as we transition here headed into the season.”
–Field Level Media