The 2019 Trojans’ men’s basketball regular season does not begin until November, but the team is already gaining national attention thanks to a player who won’t even set foot on a college court this year.
On Aug. 5, USC received a commitment from Evan Mobley, a 7-foot product of Temecula, Calif. and the No. 1 high school basketball prospect in the class of 2020. At USC, Mobley will join his father Eric, an assistant coach, and his brother Isaiah, a highly touted incoming freshman power forward.
“It will be great to play with [Isaiah]; we have really good chemistry together,” Mobley told ESPN. “He has been a big influence on me both on and off the court.”
Although he is just beginning his basketball career, Mobley has already accumulated an impressive collection of accolades. Along with winning the Gatorade Player of the Year Award for men’s high school basketball as a junior, Mobley helped the USA National Team win gold medals at the FIBA U17 World Cup in 2018 and the U19 World Cup earlier this summer.
Mobley will be a huge addition to Andy Enfield’s Trojan squad, which has not made the NCAA tournament since 2017. USC posted a 16-17 record last year — the program’s worst season since 2015.
But despite the underwhelming performance, and even without Mobley’s contributions, USC enters the 2019 season with a recruiting class ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN and a legitimate chance to build momentum after recent shortcomings.
USC’s strong incoming freshman class, combined with Mobley’s arrival in 2020, has the Trojans poised to bring a winning product back to the Galen Center for the foreseeable future.
“Coach Enfield’s a great guy and a great coach,” Mobley said. “USC has a great freshman class coming in. It will be a young team this year, and I’m excited about the future.”
The Trojans’ 2019 recruiting class comprises the elder Mobley, guards Kyle Sturdivant and Ethan Anderson, forwards Max Agbonkpolo and Onyeka Okongwu, and two-sport standout guard Drake London, who doubles as a wide receiver on the football team.
For the Trojans to have any chance at making a deep playoff run in March, they will have to rely on Isaiah Mobley to consistently perform at a high level. In his senior season at Rancho Christian High School, Mobley averaged 22 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks per game. The only player from California to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Mobley is a five-star recruit and the No. 4-ranked power forward in the class of 2019.
Mobley and the Trojans began preparing for the upcoming season with a foreign tour in Europe from Aug. 6 to 16. USC traveled to Barcelona, Cannes and Paris for three nights, playing one game in each city.
“Our student-athletes and staff will have an amazing opportunity to enjoy a unique educational and cultural experience,” Enfield said prior to the trip.
USC also announced July 31 that it has scheduled a home exhibition game Oct. 18 against the 2018 national champion Villanova Wildcats. All proceeds from the game will go to the California Fire Foundation, which provides emotional and financial support to the families of fallen firefighters in the recent California wildfires.
The Trojans will tip off the regular season against Florida A&M Nov. 5 at Galen Center. The official Pac-12 schedule has yet to be announced, but conference play will not begin until after the new year.
If all goes right for USC in 2019, last season’s subpar performance will quickly be put in the rearview mirror. The program’s recent additions should have Trojan fans excited for exactly that.