USC’s Chevez Goodwin says his development is ‘like a rose that grew out the concrete’

USC forward Chevez Goodwin (1) grabs an offensive rebound in front of Long Beach State's Aboubacar Traore
USC forward Chevez Goodwin has worked to become a key part of the Trojans’ success this season.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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He wanted to make them all mad.

When he was younger, USC big man Chevez Goodwin would fixate on the mothers of opposing players cheering from the stands. It would eat at him. He would try to shut them down — shut down the affection.

Goodwin’s mother, Ronee, died of breast cancer when he was 3. His father, Charles, was there for him every step of the way but was reserved.

“I never had a person who was cheering for me,” Goodwin said. “I took that to heart.”

Standing in a hallway at Galen Center, he glances out at the rows of empty seats. He wishes Ronee could see him play here. See him bloom as the second-leading scorer for No. 5 USC (14-2, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference) after years of switching schools and working from the ground up, feeling as if it were him against the world.

USC forward Chevez Goodwin drives to the basket after getting past Georgia Tech guard Jordan Usher
USC forward Chevez Goodwin drives to the basket after getting past Georgia Tech guard Jordan Usher (4) on Dec. 18 in Phoenix.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Goodwin sometimes adds an emoji of a rose to captions on Instagram posts because he likes to think he’s Ronee’s rose.

“I had an unpredictable journey to get where I’m at,” Goodwin said, “like a rose that grew out the concrete.”


Goodwin’s last name ringing over the PA sends a buzz through Galen Center.

The 6-foot-9 forward has emerged as perhaps the biggest surprise of the Trojans’ electrifying season, ranking second on the team in scoring (13 points per game) and rebounding (7.1 per game) and second in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6). He dominates the paint with a variety of power moves and finesse hooks, bringing a combination of passion and intelligence that has endeared him to teammates and coaches.

No. 5 USC fell 79-69 to Oregon on Saturday night. Four games into their return from a COVID break, the Trojans are feeling the effects of the 18-day pause.

Jan. 15, 2022

“He’s become just a complete basketball player at that position,” coach Andy Enfield said. “We’re very proud of him.”

It’s a far cry from the Goodwin of four years ago, a redshirt transfer at Wofford.

A player known for his energy was stationary on the sidelines. Practices blended into one another before his eyes. Goodwin was losing himself.


After a banner career at Hammond High in Columbia, S.C., Goodwin jumped into a commitment at the College of Charleston. He played in every game his freshman season but averaged just 2.3 points in bite-size minutes.

Hoping for more opportunity, he transferred. Wofford, a school in Spartanburg, S.C., of less than 2,000 not known for its athletics, was his only offer. Chatter was circling in Columbia that Goodwin had flamed out.

“Everyone had written me off,” Goodwin said. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh, this kid’s done.’ ”

USC forward Chevez Goodwin (1) reacts during a game against UC Irvine
Trojans forward Chevez Goodwin says he bet on himself when he took the risk of leaving the East Coast to join USC.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Goodwin has always loved playing on the road. Hearing doubters fuels him.

But at Wofford, he had to sit out and hear the outside noise for a season. He hit a “dark point,” Goodwin said, in more ways than one.


The childhood memories Goodwin has of his mother are fleeting, here and there, tiny sparks in his memory he never wants to let die.

As time has gone on, he has heard stories about Ronee — a social worker who helped to care for the institutionalized at prisons and mental hospitals — that only make him wish he could have known her better.


In that redshirt season at Wofford, he felt her void in his life more than ever before. That same year, within a month of one another, his aunt and his grandmother on his mother’s side died too.

He would shuttle from school to home to a funeral and then back to school. He would try to still focus on homework with no outlet in basketball to express his emotions.

USC coach Andy Enfield discusses the team’s COVID challenges and push to extend early season success.

Jan. 11, 2022

“I’m by myself out here trying to deal with those emotions of losing my grandma and my aunt, who were both close to me, and not having my mom,” Goodwin said. “It was really rough. … It was probably the toughest time in my life.”

Goodwin didn’t share the details of that period with many people. But slowly, things got better, particularly as he grew closer with Wofford teammates Storm Murphy, Keve Aluma and Tray Hollowell. The four, who all entered the program the same year, soon became inseparable.

“If I didn’t have those guys there, I probably don’t know where I’d be,” Goodwin said.

He knew he wasn’t the tallest big man or even the quickest. But Goodwin always kept his motor running. He would study film, learning the right spots as a defender and how to score without always having the ball in his hands. Over two seasons at Wofford, Goodwin grew from a backup big man to a key starter, averaging 11.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his final season.

This time, when he decided to transfer again, USC came calling within the first 30 minutes.



After scoring 23 points to help lead the Trojans to a tough come-from-behind win over UC Irvine on Dec.15, Goodwin bared his soul in a postgame news conference.

“Being a kid from the East Coast, coming all the way over here, that’s a big risk in general,” Goodwin said that night. “I’m betting everything on myself each and every day I’m out here.”

When he transferred to USC, Goodwin knew he would have to start from scratch. He also knew that Evan Mobley, a future NBA lottery pick “blessed by God,” as Goodwin put it, would be joining his brother Isaiah in an already-crowded Trojans frontcourt.

USC used its dominant defense and continued its surprising offensive surge to power past Oregon 82-68 and into the the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament.

March 28, 2021

“That didn’t discourage me at all,” Goodwin said. “It was a challenge I needed because I wanted to see what NBA size looks like day in and day out.”

He worked himself into a key bench role on a Trojans team that advanced to the Elite Eight. During the offseason, he spent hours upon hours in the gym.

“I watched him all summer, going to different guys, driving all the way to Irvine to get work,” Isaiah said Dec. 15.


A new-and-improved Goodwin has thrived after stepping into a starting role for USC this season. NBA scouts are watching his leaner physique and improved footwork, and Goodwin is hoping to enter his name in the draft after the season. For now, he’s trying to keep his head down.

Ronee’s rose is just trying to make his mother proud.

“I know she’s happy with me, what I’m doing,” Goodwin said. “I just really miss her a lot.”