Isaiah Collier got here to USC’s campus early final spring. It was Could, and most of his basketball teammates had but to reach. However Collier, the top-rated level guard prospect within the nation, wished a head begin on the season. He wasn’t the one one.

Boogie Ellis hadn’t deliberate to nonetheless be at USC as a fifth-year senior. He’d dipped his toes within the NBA draft waters after his junior season, then once more final spring. In between, he’d emerged as a extra full participant, a ground normal who may do way over simply rating. However when the time got here to determine on his future, he got here again for one last season, understanding he’d have a brand new backcourt mate.

The 2 proficient guards have been completely totally different gamers. Ellis was a pure scorer, already nipping on the heels of USC’s all-time scoring record after two seasons. Collier was a artful distributor, a five-star prospect within the dialog to be the following No. 1 NBA draft choose. However final Could, once they first began understanding collectively, it felt straight away as if the 2 have been at all times destined to satisfy.

Now they barely spend any time aside.

“We acquired actual tight,” Collier mentioned.

“That’s like my finest good friend,” Ellis added. “We’re collectively on a regular basis.”

Their backcourt chemistry may assist energy a particular season for USC, if all goes as hoped for the Trojans. After a summer time of pushing one another throughout early morning exercises, the guards say they’ve helped every unlock one of the best model of the opposite, a notion that ought to ship shivers to the remainder of the Pac-12 Convention.

At USC, it’s no secret that this season, which suggestions off Monday towards Kansas State in Las Vegas, runs by way of the Trojans’ proficient backcourt.

“Our backcourt may be very dynamic with the basketball,” coach Andy Enfield mentioned. “They’ll rating. They’ll move it.”

And so they can do all of it at mild pace. Not less than, that’s the intent.

“Having two elite guards that each rating and move, having the ability to get downhill, we’re taking part in rather a lot sooner with us two on the courtroom,” Ellis mentioned. “It’s like a observe meet.”

Collier and Ellis gained’t at all times play alongside one another, however once they do, nobody at USC appears to have any concern about match. With Collier taking part in extra of a conventional level, Ellis has been in a position to work extra off-the-ball, coming off screens for catch-and-shoot alternatives. To not point out he’ll take care of fewer double groups.

“That’s going to take loads of stress off of me,” Ellis mentioned. “It’s going to be scary [for defenses].”

Collier, in the meantime, involves USC as essentially the most touted level guard of Enfield’s tenure however gained’t have the stress to shoulder the scoring load that prospects of his caliber typically do. He has advised teammates greater than as soon as that he hopes to steer the nation in assists, slightly than scoring.

USC guard Boogie Ellis drives against Arizona State forward Jamiya Neal.

USC guard Boogie Ellis, proper, drives towards Arizona State ahead Jamiya Neal, left, in the course of the Pac-12 event quarterfinals in Las Vegas.

(David Becker / Related Press)

That hasn’t stopped the freshman from working relentlessly on his jumper, which has been a relative weak point in his sport. Ellis says he has seen an enchancment — and jokes that it’s as a result of he has rubbed off on Collier.

“I really feel like I’ve come a good distance,” Collier mentioned of his capturing. “I work on it day-after-day.”

The place Collier could be missing on the perimeter, although, the freshman has confirmed elite within the lane. His capability to drive to the basket is not like any USC level guard in latest reminiscence.

“His physique management, his heart of gravity, you may’t train that,” mentioned DJ Rodman, USC’s switch wing. “It’s actually one thing to marvel at. I’ve by no means performed with a participant like that. Simply somebody who will get downhill and might get no matter he needs.”

Collier’s growth is more likely to decide the route of the Trojans’ season, however Rodman may additionally play a key position in unlocking the offense. A flexible, 6-foot-6 puzzle piece who shot 38% from three-point vary final season, Rodman mentioned he got here to USC intent on “scoring in a wide range of methods”.

However most of all, he mentioned, “I wished to return to a winner.”

USC hasn’t gained a convention title in 40 years. It has superior previous the Candy 16 solely as soon as in 23 seasons. However a pair of finest mates in USC’s backcourt have the Trojans feeling on observe for each as this season begins Monday.

Requested how far Collier may assist take them, Ellis chuckled.

“I simply really feel like y’all are gonna see how good he really is,” he mentioned, shaking his head.

His eyes acquired huge.

“You’ll see,” he mentioned. “You’ll see.”

#USC #run #Pac12 #proficient #backcourt

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