USC’s Bennie Boatwright progressing, could play next week

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports.

After scoring their biggest win of the season, USC head coach Andy Enfield may be getting back a soldier.

Per Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports, sophomore Bennie Boatwright is eyeing a return next week during the Trojans’ road-trip in Washington. The 6’10” forward has been sidelined since November 30, missing the last 15 games due to a sprained left knee.

“We’re hoping to get him back on our next road trip, but it’s still to be determined,” Enfield told Rothstein on Friday. “He hasn’t done a full-contact practice yet so we’ll see, but we’re anxious to get him back.”

Boatwright, an honorable mention to the 2015-16 PAC-12 All-Freshman team, burst onto the college scene by averaging 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds while helping USC to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. Prior to injury, the Mission Hills, California, native was finding his groove; he scored 17 and 21 points against SMU and UC Santa Barbara respectively.

Since he had only played in five games, some speculated whether the sophomore was destined to repeat his second season. According to NCAA rules, a player applying for a medical hardship waiver must have competed in less than 30% of the team’s games. Thankfully for Enfield, however, Boatwright’s knee is progressing and the Trojans will soon have another scoring weapon to go with Elijah Stewart (14.1 PPG), Jordan McLaughlin (13.9 PPG) and Chimezie Metu (13.6 PPG).

18-4 USC, riding their longest win streak of conference play, will receive the weekend off before traveling north for matchups versus Washington and Washington State. Currently, the Trojans sit at 5-4, good enough for fifth in the PAC-12, and are 3.5 games back of Arizona and Oregon, who both are 8-0.

– P. Wesner