Klee's Corner: (Early) preview of USC

The entire Klee's Corner, a full page of college basketball coverage, publishes every Sunday in the offseason. Here's a snippet from this week:

Illinois hasn’t played Southern Cal since a 90-77 win in the 1997 NCAA tournament.

That changes Nov. 19, when the Illini and Trojans will face off in an opening-round matchup at the Maui Invitational on ESPN2. USC is expected to have a much different look than last season, when the Trojans finished 1-17 in a historically bad Pac-12.

Start with the transfers. J.T. Terrell is a gifted 6-foot-3 transfer from Wake Forest and Peninsula College. Renaldo Woolridge, who also made YouTube rap videos, is a 6-9 transfer from Tennessee. Ari Stewart (Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine) will be eligible after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

USC coach Kevin O’Neill also returns key players coming off injuries. Guard Jio Fontan (ACL) is a scorer, while center Dewayne Dedmon (knee) is a 7-footer getting pro looks. O’Neill, whose colorful language filled Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena from 1997-2000, has told reporters this should be his deepest team through four seasons at USC.

One Pac-12 coach said “if the pieces fit” he expects a much-improved USC team. That won’t be hard. USC lost 10 straight to close the season. Combined, Illinois and USC went 1-19 in February and March. Here’s hoping both are improved by late November.

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