The Evan Mobley folklore is starting to grow at USC – Press Enterprise

The Evan Mobley folklore is starting to grow at USC – Press Enterprise

USC men’s basketball was running through five-on-five in practice, like any other day. Guard Tahj Eaddy pump faked a defender and dribbled in to shoot a 3-pointer at the top of the key.

It seemed like an open shot. But it wasn’t.

Because center Evan Mobley, positioned all the way under the basket, closed out so quickly that he was able to leap with one foot and reject the shot with both arms, as though making a volleyball block. The ball went all the way back to halfcourt, and Mobley was the first there, picking the ball up and taking it for an easy tomahawk dunk in transition.

“Practice just stopped for eight or nine seconds,” head coach Andy Enfield recalled. “I think the players and the coaching staff couldn’t believe what they saw.”

From Mobley’s point of view, nothing spectacular had occurred. “It happens sometimes,” he said simply on a Zoom press conference on Friday.

But it’s just another instance of the folklore beginning to build at USC around Mobley, the No. 2 recruit in the country who signed with the Trojans last fall out of Rancho Christian.

Take last Thursday’s scrimmage for example. The Trojans had two 20-minute sessions, officiated by Pac-12 referees. Mobley was made to switch teams midway through.

His team won both scrimmages.

“So I guess the No. 1 thing we learned is the team that Evan was on won both games,” Enfield said giddily.

Even when praising his players, Enfield is rarely as effusive as he has been whenever Mobley’s name has been evoked the last three weeks. On Friday, the head coach said he expects Mobley to replace the production of one-and-done center Onyeka Okongwu, but with more skilled passing, with Enfield predicting him to average over four assists per game.

Growing up, Mobley always played with his older brother, sophomore USC power forward Isaiah. Given his brother was the taller of the two for much of their youth, that pushed Evan Mobley out to the perimeter, where he developed some guard skills.

“As I got older, I [grew] and got more taller so I started becoming more big and I just started playing more big and being able to pass out of the post more easily because of the past I had playing up with my brother,” explained the 7-foot Mobley.

But given his length and athleticism, Mobley is also fun for his teammates to pass to. Just ask point guard Ethan Anderson.

“Some of my passes to Evan I don’t even have to look. I just throw it by the rim and I have faith that he’s gonna get it and he hasn’t failed me yet,” Anderson said. “His ability to the pass the ball has benefited me a lot as I’ve improved my jump shot a lot from last season. He’s able to find me in practice four or five times, wide open.”