USC women’s basketball brings in transfer talent

Winning Watts  · Guard Stephanie Watts broke the ACC’s record for 3-pointers in a game while playing for North Carolina. (Photo from UNC Athletics)

Following a losing 7-11 season in Pac-12 conference play, the USC women’s basketball team has brought in two promising graduate transfers — guards Stephanie Watts and Aliyah Jeune — to aid the team in its upcoming season.

The program is looking to rebuild after losing several notable players from this past season. Guards Mariya Moore and Aliyah Mazyck finished their final seasons as Trojans, while guard Minyon Moore and forward Ja’Tavia Tapley decided to transfer.

All four were consistent starters who, despite the team’s poor record, rose to the challenge against some of the NCAA’s fiercest competitors. Minyon Moore’s absence will be especially difficult for the Trojans, as she led the team last season in points, free throws, assists, rebounds and steals.

Although the Trojans’ top talents have left, graduate transfers Watts and Jeune are poised to make an immediate impact this season.

During her three seasons at North Carolina, Watts earned the 2016 ACC Freshman of the Year distinction and scored 1,320 total points. She netted an average of 15.2 points per game while amassing 82 3-pointers, only four shy of USC’s all-time record.

A consistent scoring threat, Watts also put up several record-breaking single game performances. She broke the ACC’s record for 3-pointers in a game in her sophomore season with 10 makes, and came up just short of this mark last season with nine 3-pointers in a game.

“Stephanie is a great scorer and had a very successful career at the University of North Carolina,” USC’s head coach Mark Trakh said. “She will bring a tremendous level of experience and leadership to our program. We can’t wait to see Stephanie on the court in a USC jersey.”

Jeune’s decision to become a Trojan was announced last Tuesday, three weeks after Watt was welcomed to the program. Jeune played two seasons for Rutgers before leaving for Morehead State. As a Beaker, she sat out for a season before earning the OVC Newcomer of the Year honors as a redshirt junior.

At Morehead State, Jeune averaged 16.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game with three double-doubles. Also a talented defender, she was the linchpin in a Morehead State team that which surged to second place in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last season.

“Aliyah is an athletic wing who can defend, shoot the three and get to the basket,” Trakh said. “We are very excited about our prospects for the upcoming season.”

Along with the two transfers, the Trojans are bringing in six impressive freshmen.

“[The 2019 class] is a very talented group with a great mixture of positions,” Trakh said. “We have height, strength and shooting. All these young women come from successful programs and are winners.”

Center Angel Jackson — Minyon Moore’s former teammate — ranks No. 24 overall and No. 4 at her position nationwide, according to Prospectsnation. Jackson’s versatility is demonstrated by her 21 double-doubles and a triple-double in her senior season for which she garnered First Team All-State Honors.

“Angel possesses an interior presence with a very unique ability to score, rebound, defend and alter the game with her size,” Trakh said. “She is a very elite prospect who matches skill with her athleticism. She will have the ability to have an equivalent impact to our program as some of the greats before her at USC.”

The Trojans’ new talent joins returning players redshirt sophomore guard Shalexxus Aaron, sophomore guard Desiree Caldwell, and senior forward Kayla Overbeck as the Trojans seek Pac-12 contention this coming season.