For years, the USC Trojans have been a football-dominant athletics program in the Pac-12. With the likes of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, and Troy Polamalu having donned a Trojan jersey since the new millennium hit, it’s no surprise as to why football has been the priority. There have been a ton of greats in the past who have suited up for the Trojans as well, and we didn’t want people to think we forgot them.
Basketball hasn’t been the main focus for USC, despite having churned out some talented professional prospects of their own in recent memory. O.J. Mayo, DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson, Nikola Vucevic, and Nick Young all played for the Trojans, and are currently playing in the NBA. They have had their fair share of talent, but haven’t been able to translate it to success.
Over the past five seasons, the Trojans have compiled a record of 62 – 100 overall. They last made the NCAA Tournament in 2010-11 as a 6-seed, and they were eliminated in the opening round by VCU. They have just five conference wins in the past two seasons combined.
The past wasn’t the brightest of times for USC basketball, but the future is looking more and more promising as we progress along. With talented players like Jordan McLaughlin and Nikola Jovanovic having at least two years of eligibility left, the Trojans have already hit the ground running in terms of their 2016 recruiting class.
On Wednesday night, the Trojans bolstered their back court with a key recruit for the 2016-17 season. Point guard Jonah Mathews committed to USC for his collegiate career.
Mathews, a 6’1”, 175-pound guard out of Santa Monica, CA, is the younger brother of California’s Jordan Mathews, so it’s clear to see that basketball runs in the family. Mathews plays his high school basketball at Santa Monica High School, and is currently listed as a shooting guard.
In Mathews, USC is getting a guard who can be an impact player on both ends of the floor. On offense, he has the ability to grab rebounds in the paint, he can effectively lead the break with his high level of energy, and can find his way to the rim and finish with both hands. He has good body control when driving the lane.
When he spots up to shoot the three is when Mathews is at the top of his game, as he has strong mechanics and he sets himself up well for jumpers.
On defense, Mathews is a solid defender because he slides his feet well and has active hands, like on the offensive end. However, his energy level on the defensive end of the floor doesn’t match the level he plays with on offense. If he can play with a higher level of intensity, and further develop his ability to attack the rim with his left-hand on the offensive end, then his game will go to another level.
When asked why he chose USC, Mathews cited that he ‘wanted to stay home.’ His hometown of Santa Monica is a mere 30 minutes from USC.
Mathews is listed as the 70th-ranked recruit in the class of 2016 by ESPN. He chose USC over the likes of Utah, Arizona State, San Diego State, and California.