Going into this year, DeMar DeRozan was supposed to be the next O.J. Mayo — not because he and the possible NBA Rookie of the Year play anything alike, but rather because DeRozan was supposed to follow a similar path as his USC predecessor: one-and-done, a quick Big Dance appearance, and onto the Green Room.
But for the majority of this season, DeRozan’s production didn’t equate to the potential everyone saw when he came out of Compton (Calif.) High School as an All-American and the most highlight-friendly prep player in the country.
Averaging 12.8 points in the regular season, he was largely inconsistent; for every game where he was impressive (22 pts, 8 rebs, 3 stls vs. Arizona State), there was another time when he was invisible (3 pts, 1-4 FG vs. Seton Hall). He was third on the team in scoring behind Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis, didn’t crack either of the All-Pac-10 Teams, and DeRozan lost out to Washington’s 5-foot-8 Isaiah Thomas in the conference Freshman of the Year voting.
During the Pac-10 tournament, however, DeRozan put together a string of games to prove he’s Lottery-worthy: 17 points, 11 boards and three blocks against Cal; 21 points and 13 boards against UCLA; and 25 points against Arizona State in the championship game. In USC’s unexpected tournament win, he connected on 57 percent of his shots from the field, and after hitting an ugly 18 percent of his threes in the regular season, knocked down 50 percent of his shots beyond the arc.
If he does in fact go pro this summer, DeRozan’s immediate impact in the League will probably be somewhere between Von Wafer and Jamario Moon. But for the time being, the 6-7 wing looks like he could dispel another similarity between himself and Mayo: He could take USC farther into the tournament than O.J. was able to.
March Madness Players 2 Watch: DeMar DeRozan
No. 1 Overall? Louisville Got Screwed
March Madness: Top 5 Closers
March Madness: Biggest Snubs
March Madness: The Players Who Will Bust Your Bracket
March Madness: Upsets To Watch
March Madness Best Matchups: Rick Barnes vs. Tubby Smith
March Madness: Top 15 Shooters
March Madness Best Matchups: James Harden vs. Dionte Christmas
March Madness: 5 players Who Can Take Their Team to the Final Four
March Madness: Top 5 Defensive Game-Changers
Louisville Will Win It All