Early last season, J.T. Terrell wasn't meeting Kevin O'Neill's expectations. He spent time on the bench and had a few games with limited minutes, but finally found a way to showcase his skills. Eventually he would prove to be one of USC's best players with his skills flourishing under O'Neill successor Bob Cantu. With USC's new style of play, it's reasonable to think Terrell could continue to improve.
"I'm very comfortable right now," Terrell said. "We've been working on a lot of skill development and adapting to the style that Coach [Andy] Enfield wants us to play. He's allowing me to play freely and they're pushing me hard. Everyone is pushing each other hard. It's nothing but positive energy and a good atmosphere to play in."
Part of pushing Terrell hard is getting him to take on a new role. Last season's leader Jio Fontan is gone. The Trojans need someone new to step up.
"I need to be more of a leader. I'm one of the veteran guys on the team. I have to push myself and push my team. The coaches told me that I need to lead by example. I need to show up, put in effort and do the right thing. I'm excited for that role."
His leadership could determine the future work ethic of USC's 2013 class, he thinks.
"I think they can help us. Kahlil [Dukes] is a great shooter and Roschon [Prince] is a great inside presence," Terrell said. "Then you have Julian [Jacobs] who's an all-around hustler and plays both sides of the ball. I really like them and they fit in with what the coaches are doing."
If the coaches get it right, if the freshmen adjust to the college game quickly and if the upperclassmen continue to develop, Terrell thinks this could be a good year for USC basketball.
"I think we can win right away," he said. "Coach Enfield's system is allowing everyone to play freely right now. We're sharing the ball, there's no selfish play. When you're playing like that, there's no telling what can happen."
Terrell's guess is that this season won't be like last season.
"It's different and it just feels right," he said. "Everyone's jelling together, working hard and trying to get better for the new season. We just want to show that we can win."
That confidence comes from the what the new coaches are preaching.
"Everyone is playing their game right now. The coaches are letting us play that way and pushing us to play our game. When we play that freely, there's no mistakes to make as long as you move and you're spacing is right. I love it because I'm a reaction player. I play off reading the defense and what I see. I believe that this system is going to allow me to do just that."
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