Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kevin O'Neill at USC: It's the circle of life

There's irony in your eye: The Raptors might draft DeMar DeRozan, who put in his one season at Southern Cal before that program blew up, while the reins of what's left of the USC basketball team have been handed to, wait for it, former Raptors coach, Kevin O'Neill.

Here you thought O'Neill, a McGill alum, walked into a buzzsaw in 2003 when he became coach of the Toronto Raptors right when Vince Carter was beginning the Big Sulk. The "highly flammable" one ( has been hired to head a USC team which is in hot water with NCAA investigators these days. The reaction has been less than warm.

For those who have not been following it, USC is facing an NCAA investigation which mostly revolves around the recruitment of O.J. Mayo, who did his obligatory one year of college and became a NBA lottery pick in 2008. Former coach Tim Floyd has already resigned. The L.A. Times' Adam Rose notes:
"A USC spokesperson confirmed this is not considered an interim hire, which surprised this writer. Terms of the contract, including length, have not been released. O'Neill may ultimately prove just to be a stopgap measure. But, hey, anything can happen in sports. Carroll certainly wasn't the choice for the football job."
They might as well go with O'Neill. USC might need a coach with a us-against-the-world mentality, since recruiting is going to be very difficult.'s latest mock has the Raptors taking shooting guard Gerald Henderson from (guh) Duke ("Polished wing scorer owns high hoops IQ and will clearly fit as a nice piece for a good team. Lacks the explosiveness to be a star," Providence Journal). DeRozan is more of a project.

USC hires Kevin O’Neill to replace Floyd as coach (The Associated Press)
USC hires Kevin O'Neill; fans don't seem thrilled (Adam Rose, The Fabulous Forum)

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