Tomorrow night the wait will be over and DeWayne Dedmon will play his first minutes for USC’s men’s basketball team. To say that expectations are high for the 7-foot redshirt sophomore from Lancaster would be an understatement. He is expected to lessen the loss of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson and the Trojans are banking on Dedmon to be as stellar as advertised. If he isn’t this season may be full of disappointment.
A virtual unknown two years ago, Dedmon is considered by many NBA scouts and Coach Kevin O’Neill to be a future lottery pick. Scouts are drooling over his athleticism, especially his ability to run the floor.
O’Neill, who has coached some excellent big men during his career says, “He’s the best athlete of his size I’ve ever seen, including the NBA.”
But having only started playing basketball his senior year of high school, the 22-year-old still has a lot to learn about the game. One has to wonder if he can turn his athleticism into points, rebounds and blocks at the collegiate level. Coming from Antelope Valley College, Dedmon averaged just 6.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. Granted, those are the numbers he averaged in just his third year playing basketball, but they aren’t exactly eye popping either.
Dedmon’s story is an interesting one and has been covered by numerous media outlets in the past few weeks. During his first three years at Lancaster High, Dedmon made the basketball team, but was forbidden from joining by his mother. She wanted him to focus on church and believed that basketball would take away from that.
When he turned 18, the then 6-8 senior was able to make his own decision to join his school’s squad. That season he hardly played and scored just two points, but that was enough to give him the itch to keep playing basketball.
After graduating high school, he went to Antelope Valley College and asked to join the team. USC Assistant Coach Dieter Horton, who was Antelope Valley’s coach at the time, agreed to give him a look. Horton liked what he saw and put the raw, lanky forward on the squad. For that first year, Dedmon grey shirted and perfected his skills.
Then came a monumental change in his development. Dedmon grew three inches and added an additional 30 pounds. When his team played in a junior college event at USC, his frame and athleticism immediately caught the eye of the Trojan’s coaching staff and they offered him a scholarship on the spot. Dedmon hadn’t even played a game for Antelope Valley and he was already deemed worthy of a Division I scholarship.
Come Friday night questions about who Dwayne Dedmon is as a player will begin to be answered. The pressure to perform for Dedmon must be immense, but if his life story tells us anything at all, it’s that he is up to the task.
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