University of Southern California (4-0)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Conference: Pacific 12
Last season: 12-20 (3-15)
Coach: Andy Enfield – 3rd season
Wichita State heads down to the Sunshine State for some hoops over Thanksgiving as they participate in the AdvoCare Invitational, previously the Orlando Classic. The Shockers start their 3-game tournament against the Trojans of Southern California on Thursday at 1 pm.
The Trojans are coached by Andy Enfield, who is in his 3rd season at the helm. Before joining the USC coaching staff, Enfield was the coach at Florida Gulf Coast during their miraculous run in the NCAA Tournament 3 seasons ago. FGCU gained popularity not for the opponents they beat, but for their style during those upsets. Boasting a high tempo offense with electric dunks and alley-oops at FGCU, Coach Enfield brings that same approach to USC.
Southern California returns their top nine scorers from last season, but despite the high number of returning players, the Trojans have just one senior on the roster. USC’s roster is comprised of six juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen, and one senior. The relatively young Trojans are led on the court by 6’6″ redshirt junior guard Katin Reinhardt. Before USC, Reinhardt played at UNLV, but transferred out west to LA. Last season was Katin’s first with USC and averaged 12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game for the Trojans. Sophomore guards, Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart, return as starters who averaged 12.1 and 6.4 points per game respectively last season.
This off season, the Trojans added two top-60 recruits to the roster; 6’11” Chimezie Metu and 6’10” Bennie Boatright. Both look to make contributions this year for their team. Young, but talented, the Trojans are long, quick, and extremely athletic. USC appears to be better than any opponent the Shockers have faced so far this year, and will prove a tough test for a thin Wichita State back court at the moment.
Fred VanVleet will most likely sit out the entirety of the AdvoCare Invitational with an injured hamstring. Fred injured his hamstring originally against Oklahoma State in a closed scrimmage in October. The timetable for his return is around December 5th for the Saint Louis game.
The Shockers will be without one other Shocker for the tournament; Landry Shamet is out 10-12 weeks with a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. Shamet decided to have surgery on the foot to repair the injury, which is slated for Wednesday.
For the last two seasons, Wichita State hasn’t relied heavily on the underclassmen to produce off the bench. This stretch of three games in Florida will be a great test against adversity early in the season. Ty Taylor and Zach Brown will be needed the most to fill the void left by VanVleet and Shamet; expect an expanded role for John Robert Simon in Florida as well. The negatives of playing without VanVleet and Shamet surely weigh heavy, but the opportunities for playing time and development for young players will prove valuable later in the season. For Wichita State to leave Florida as a champion, they need to find a way to get back to their “play angry” style of play.
This Thanksgiving weekend will be filled with a lot of Shocker basketball. Wichita State will play either Alabama or Xavier in the 2nd round of the AdvoCare Invitational on Friday. Xavier is currently ranked 23rd in the AP poll. The third and final day will have the Shockers playing against Dayton, Iowa, Monmouth, or #17 Notre Dame.