My admiration for USC basketball isn’t centered around the usual suspects like DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vucevic. Surprisingly, my heart belongs to the unforgettable Tahj Eady. The memory of his buzzer-beater that lifted the Trojans over UCLA in 2021 remains etched as one of the most thrilling moments I’ve experienced while at USC, even if it was on my TV due to COVID constraints.
While Eady didn’t secure a spot in Andy Katz’s Turner Sports USC all-time starting five, a closer look at the chosen legends reveals their immense contributions.
Harold Miner, active from 1989 to 1992, cast a short yet powerful shadow in his USC days. Averaging an impressive 26.3 points and 7 rebounds per game during his final year, Miner showcased his prowess as a guard. His remarkable jumping ability led to awe-inspiring slam dunks that echoed through both college and NBA arenas. In fact, Miner clinched the 1993 Slam Dunk Contest, solidifying his status as a force to be reckoned with.
Sam Clancy’s legacy shines as a four-year forward who showcased versatility. Averaging nearly a double-double—19.1 points and 9.4 rebounds—during his senior season, Clancy’s skills were evident. He excelled as a formidable paint presence, a steadfast defender, and a player who could smoothly maneuver through defenders or thunderously dunk over them. Regrettably, Clancy’s NBA journey was hindered by a knee injury, curbing his professional trajectory.
Delving into history, Bill Sharman emerged as a captivating figure. His high school days as a 15-letter athlete prelude his USC achievements. With an average of 18.6 points in his senior season (1949-50), Sharman’s impact was undeniable. His partnership with Bob Cousy formed a legendary backcourt that redefined excellence. Sharman’s legacy extended to coaching and leadership roles, amassing a remarkable 10 championships as both player and coach.
Taj Gibson’s imposing 6-foot-9 frame left a lasting mark during his USC days. Averaging almost 3 blocks per game alongside 14.3 points and 9 rebounds in his junior season, Gibson’s presence in the paint was a constant threat. Transitioning to the NBA, he enjoyed a robust 14-year career, leaving an impression as part of the Washington Wizards.
Finally, Ronnie Coleman’s tenure from 1987 to 1991 yielded notable achievements. He secured the title of USC’s all-time scoring leader with 1,727 points, a distinction later passed to Miner in 1992. Although he didn’t enter the NBA ranks, Coleman’s impact on USC basketball history is undeniable.
As we celebrate USC’s storied basketball journey, it’s imperative to recognize the remarkable impact these legends had on the court. From breathtaking dunks to strategic prowess, each player etched their unique mark in USC’s history, creating a lasting legacy that resonates with fans and aspiring players alike.