Floyd expects to see some value added

Klein is a Times staff writer.

USC Coach Tim Floyd is looking forward to reaping some benefits by addition after several weeks marked by attrition.

Floyd said Tuesday that he was optimistic that 6-foot-10 freshman Nikola Vucevic would have amateurism issues cleared by the NCAA in the next few days so that the Montenegro native could play this season. Floyd also is eyeing Dec. 20 as the date that Connecticut transfer Marcus Johnson will be eligible to join the Trojans.

USC, which is preparing for Monday’s game against Pepperdine, could use the depth.

In late November, the NCAA declined forward Alex Stepheson’s appeal for immediate eligibility after transferring from North Carolina. A few days later, forward Kasey Cunningham suffered a season-ending knee injury.


And on Monday, oft-injured sophomore guard Marcus Simmons informed Floyd that he intended to transfer.

“He came in and said he wanted to play more,” Floyd said. “I struggle with this one because I love the kid and thought he would be a good player someday.”

Simmons, who attended high school in Louisiana, played in 15 games last season but was hampered by an ankle sprain that led to September surgery. He injured his ankle again Nov. 28 against Tennessee Martin and was held out against San Francisco. Simmons played two minutes in the Trojans’ 73-72 defeat at Oklahoma last Thursday.

Simmons, who could not be reached for comment, was averaging two points and 11.6 minutes a game this season.

Washington’s hit

Freshman forward Leonard Washington declined to comment about the play that led to his ejection against Oklahoma. While running down the court, Washington hit Sooners star Blake Griffin below the belt and knocked him to the floor.

“It was an immature play, a responsive play to a play that occurred on the other end,” Floyd said. “It’s a play to grow from the rest of your career.”