This long weekend in Oregon was supposed to be the moment this year’s USC Trojans finally became whole.
Kevin Porter Jr. was returning to the lineup after a mysterious six-week recovery from a thigh bruise. His family made the trip down from Seattle to watch Porter, projected as a consensus NBA lottery pick, play his first Pac-12 games. Thursday night, Porter played 25 minutes as the Trojans lost a heartbreaker in overtime at Oregon State. After the game, Porter appeared to be emotionally wrecked by the defeat and put the blame on himself.
If one had witnessed Porter then, one never would have been able to see what was coming in just a few days. What was in the basement hallway of Gill Coliseum was a frustrated 18-year-old kid who really wanted to lead his team to a victory and couldn’t get it done.
But these Pac-12 trips can test a young player’s focus.
“We just sat around Eugene for three days now,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
Apparently, there was plenty of action, too, none of it much good for the Trojans. Porter had an undisclosed conduct issue, and Enfield felt he had no choice but to suspend the freshman.
It was no surprise that USC came out flat Sunday night against Oregon, and the Ducks gladly sent the Trojans back to Los Angeles with an 81-60 whipping and another grotesque wart on their resume.
That was only the beginning of USC’s problems. After the game, Enfield said that Porter’s suspension was indefinite and indicated that there was a chance Porter could have played his last game for the Trojans.
“We’ll reevaluate his future with the program this week,” Enfield said.
“It’s very disappointing. We need all our players to be healthy and available. The last thing you want to do as a head coach is suspend any of your players, but when there’s conduct issues, we have no choice.”
USC’s roster is short because Enfield suspended Jordan Usher indefinitely for another undisclosed conduct issue Dec. 31. Usher soon announced he was transferring and chose Georgia Tech as his destination.