USC men’s basketball received yet another transfer last week — Minnesota’s Charles Buggs. Buggs, a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, started 21 games for the Golden Gophers last season and averaged 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He was second on the team in field goal percentage (.462), third in free throw shooting (.769) and 3-point shooting (.319).
Buggs, who has one more year of eligibility, will be eligible to play for the Trojans immediately because he graduated from Minnesota last month and has chosen to pursue a graduate degree at USC.
He will be an important asset off the bench for Coach Andy Enfield, who has lost three big men this offseason. The first to go was forward Malik Martin, who averaged 1.8 points in 6.6 minutes per game. Next, forward Darion Clark who managed 4.6 rebounds per game despite only averaging 11 minutes per contest through an injury-laden season. And, most notably, starting center Nikola Jovanovic who averaged 12.1 points per game as well as 7.0 rebounds.
Buggs cannot fill this entire void, but his 6’9”, 230 lb. frame is sorely needed in USC’s front court which has all of a sudden become very undersized. Buggs will be the biggest man off the bench, and while he cannot rebound like Clark or shoot like Jovanovic, he will be a solid rotational player when either Bennie Boatwright or Chimezie Metu have to leave the floor.
Buggs will likely be the third forward on Enfield’s depth chart, behind the aforementioned sophomores and ahead of two incoming three-star recruits.
First is Nick Rakocevic, listed at 6’10” 210 lb. from St. Joseph High in Illinois and then Harrison Henderson, a 6’9”, 200 lb. from South Grand Prairie High in Texas.
Aside from Buggs, the Trojans front court is young and wild. Last year, Boatwright and Metu combined to average 2.3 turnovers per 40 minutes — an unsatisfactory mark for guys who mostly play off the ball. Additionally, Boatwright struggled shooting from inside the arc, making only 44 percent of two-point attempts.
Buggs — a graduate student with four years of college basketball experience and 28 career starts — might just make his biggest impact next year as a mentor to USC’s young forwards. He knows what he would do differently as an underclassman and can help the younger student-athletes mature both on and off the court.
Buggs was the second player last week to transfer to USC, making his decision four days after Duke transfer Derryck Thornton. Thornton, a point guard, will have to sit out next season, but even he will have valuable wisdom to share with USC’s young squad after learning under Coach Krzyzewski and starting through a Sweet Sixteen run.
Because of Thornton’s splash, Buggs’ move went under the radar. But his importance on the Trojans will not. In his final year of eligibility, Buggs will want to leave his mark at USC.
He will play quality minutes as the first or second power forward off the bench. Moreover, his maturity will help USC’s young stars stay composed both on and off the court. He certainly fills a sizeable portion of the void left by USC’s spring exodus of big men.