USC’s most promising basketball player already has sustained two serious injuries and the season is only seven games old.
Dewayne Dedmon, the Trojans’ athletic 7-foot sophomore center, was diagnosed with a stress injury in his right foot after undergoing an MRI exam Monday. He is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.
“It’s not like it’s at the end of the season where I can’t finish out the season,” Dedmon said Tuesday. “I can hopefully be back before conference,” which starts Dec. 29.
David Borchardt, USC’s team trainer, said Dedmon’s foot would be immobilized for one week and he would wear a walking boot and use crutches before being reassessed.
Dedmon, who is averaging 7.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, said he began feeling pain in his foot early last week and that it intensified during the second half of USC’s win against South Carolina last Saturday.
Before the season, Dedmon sustained a fractured right hand, but he healed in time for the Trojans’ opener.
Before it opens conference play at California near the end of next month, USC has six games, the first of which is Wednesday at UC Riverside.
USC is 3-4. Riverside is 2-4 but coming off a win against Washington State at the 76 Classic at the Honda Center on Sunday.
USC Coach Kevin O’Neill said the Trojans would “greatly” miss Dedmon, who the coach “has touted as a future NBA lottery pick.
“You can’t replace 7-foot, 250 pounds, especially in the situation when we have so many inexperienced guys,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said James Blasczyk, a 7-1 junior, would start in place of Dedmon; that sophomore forward Garrett Jackson would play more minutes than the 14.9 he’s averaging; and that 6-foot-5 freshman guard Byron Wesley would probably play some at power forward.
“Some other guys are going to have to step up,” O’Neill said.
Blasczyk is known for his hustle and defense, but he’s limited offensively and is averaging just 1.9 points.
Sophomore guard Maurice Jones, USC’s floor leader, said USC won’t change its schemes on either end.
“We’ve still got [Aaron] Fuller,” Jones said. “We’re still going to throw it into the post.”
Fuller, a 6-6, 235-pound transfer from Iowa, is averaging 13.9 points, the only other USC player aside from Jones in double digits.
With Dedmon out, Fuller can expect a heavier workload and defenses focusing on him more, both of which could wear him down because of a nagging left shoulder injury.
Another challenge will be rebounding, which has been bad anyway. The Trojans have been out-rebounded in five of their last six games, and they’ve allowed more than 10 offensive rebounds in all but one game.