Reflecting on USC if Taj Gibson and DeMar DeRozan stayed in school

Written By BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist Posted: 03/09/2014, 03:51pm

Sometimes it’s interesting to look back at a relatively normal situation from the past through the lens of today.

I covered the NCAA men’s basketball regionals in 2009 in Minneapolis, and one of the teams I watched was USC. The Trojans would beat Boston College 72-55, then lose to eventual tourney runner-up Michigan State 74-69.

On that USC team were junior Taj Gibson, freshman DeMar DeRozan and junior Daniel Hackett. All would enter the 2009 NBA draft, but only Gibson (Bulls, 26th pick) and DeRozan (Raptors, ninth pick) would be chosen. Hackett would move to Italy and play in the Italian league.

USC’s coach, Tim Floyd, long ago had finished his disastrous stint with the Bulls (49-190) and recently had returned to the college game. Because of violations in the recruitment of guard O.J. Mayo to USC during Floyd’s tenure, the school would levy its own penalties in 2010, including not playing in the Pac-10 tournament. By then, Floyd had moved on to Texas-El Paso.

He had been disgusted that, at USC, even middling players were opting to leave early for the NBA. He had told USC boosters: ‘‘Kansas has two players who would have been NBA lottery picks . . . and they are returning to school. Good for them. Our guys get an offer from Islamabad, and they’re gone.’’

These days, Gibson is a cornerstone of the surging Bulls, in the middle of a four-year, $33 million contract. DeRozan is a star for the Raptors, who are one game ahead of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference. He can jump out of the gym, and he also can shoot, having recently put up three consecutive 30-point games.

I guess Hackett is happy in Europe, and I’ll assume Floyd is, too, at UTEP.

Just makes you wonder what might have happened if all four had stayed together for one more season at USC.


† PETE ROSE is a problem.

Personable, outgoing and slightly nuts, the man with the most hits in history (4,256) is beloved by most baseball fans, especially kids and those who see him at card shows, conventions and other places where he signs his autograph and collects his money.

But he still is banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for gambling on games, then lying about it. And it’s not certain he’ll make it into the Hall in his lifetime. Or ever.

Rose turns 73 in a month, two weeks after Opening Day. If he were to get reinstated to the game and get elected to the Hall, he would die with a smile on his face, no doubt about it.

Bud Selig wouldn’t budge on the guy, just as former commissioners wouldn’t, either. But maybe in Selig’s final year at the helm, he’ll have a change of heart. Maybe he’ll feel Rose has done his penance and is worthy of a final bouquet. Or maybe he’ll feel the cheaters from the ongoing Steroid Era make Pete look not so bad.

Whatever happens, we Hall voters no longer have a voice in this. But Rose shouldn’t be put in after he dies. Baseball fans saw that kind of torment happen to good guy Ron Santo, who never will know he’s in.

Put him in soon or be done with it.

† GOT A COUPLE of good names for you from the world of sports: St. John’s basketball player Sir’Dominic Pointer and female pro surfer Coco Ho.

† THERE MIGHT NOT be anybody in the world I would like to be less right now than former NFL star Darren Sharper. You can look up why.

† TAKE THIS with a shot and a puck. A limited study conducted by a University of Massachusetts professor suggests that for each player an NHL team puts on an Olympic hockey team, that NHL team will have a post-Olympics goal drop-off of about .088.

This was reported in a buried column in the New York Times a week ago, so don’t blame me. But if the Blackhawks put 10 men in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which they did, they will — per this scientist and his graphs — score almost .9 goals per game fewer for the rest of this season.

Hear that, Kaner? Taser? Do something.

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