When Ethan Anderson felt his lower back tighten up during an intrasquad scrimmage in early November, he didn’t think much of it. It was a familiar pain, one the point guard had worked through during high school. Just stretch, he told himself, and he’d be good the next day.
But weeks later, as USC’s basketball season tipped off, the pain lingered. Anderson played through it for the first two games, scoring a combined 20 points. He told himself it would get better. Then, USC got on a plane to Connecticut, and the pain became unbearable. He tried to play against Brigham Young but struggled just to bend over as pain shot up his spine.