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USC’s Chevez Goodwin seeks a Hollywood ending to six-year college career

A player dribbles while a defender covers him.
USC’s Chevez Goodwin tries to get past Utah’s Lahat Thioune during a Pac-12 game Jan. 22 in Salt Lake City.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
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Chevez Goodwin’s smartwatch started lighting up seconds after USC’s selection into the NCAA tournament was announced, and amid the flurry of texts from friends and family in South Carolina, there was a prevailing sense of disbelief in the serendipity.

After two years spent more than 2,000 miles away from home, after a college career that spanned three schools and the second-most basketball games played in Division I (171), Goodwin’s last ride will start where it all began in South Carolina.

“It was destined,” one friend texted Goodwin just as USC was announced as a No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region, slated to face 10th-seeded Miami in Greenville on Friday.

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It sure seemed scripted to USC’s sixth-year forward, a budding screenwriter who has penned a few movie scripts. But even he wouldn’t have imagined such a storybook ending. Goodwin grew up an hour away in Columbia, spent his freshman season at College of Charleston and the next three at Wofford in nearby Spartanburg.

USC posted 26 wins this season, but the Trojans’ inconsistent play down the stretch means they’re playing inconsistent Miami team in the NCAA tournament.

March 13, 2022

“I still feel like a South Carolina kid, through and through,” Goodwin said. “I can’t wait to feel the humidity.”

Over his first four seasons, Goodwin never established himself as the frontcourt force he hoped he’d become. He left Charleston in search of opportunity, then left Wofford for USC at the start of the pandemic in late March 2020 in search of the same.

He found it intermittently in his first year at USC, earning a regular role in the rotation as a high-energy big man off the bench during the Trojans’ Elite Eight run.

USC forward Chevez Goodwin hangs off the hoop after a dunk
USC forward Chevez Goodwin reacts while dunking against Arizona on March 1 at Galen Center.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Yet it wasn’t until this season that Goodwin settled in. He’s averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as the Trojans’ most physical presence in the frontcourt. USC coach Andy Enfield called him “one of the most improved players in our league.”

“He’s a high-energy guy that’s really hard to guard and hard to play against because he’s nonstop,” Enfield said. “He’s become a go-to guy in the low post. We can throw him the ball, and he’ll finish.”

That reliability has been a calling card throughout his college career, even if the minutes weren’t always there. Goodwin has never missed a game over five seasons (he redshirted during a sixth), a remarkable iron-man streak that has meant regularly shaking off nagging injuries. The fact that he’s also played more college basketball games than all but one player in Division 1 history makes his streak all the more stunning.

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The only player with more games, Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon, happens to be playing in the same regional of the tournament.

This March might be more madness than magic for UCLA and USC, who face tough roads to the Final Four in the Big Easy. Both teams must overcome some stiff competition in their regions to reach the Sweet 16 and beyond.

March 13, 2022

“Chevez, let me tell you, is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” Trojans forward Max Agbonkpolo said. “One thing you always know is Chevez is going to play hard every game.”

That won’t change Friday, when Goodwin’s family and friends pack the arena in Greenville, eager to see USC face Miami. The only question the USC forward has ahead of his trip is what Southern fast-food fare he plans to hit first.

“Gonna get some Bojangles, some Cook Out, Smoothie King, Publix,” Goodwin said. “Oh my gosh, I might just be out getting food the entire time.”

Dixon-Waters, White still out

Two crucial reserve guards might miss USC’s first-round matchup.

Freshman Reese Dixon-Waters (groin injury) and senior Isaiah White (wrist) both missed USC’s practice to open the week and are “questionable” for Friday, Enfield said.

March Madness is officially here. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

March 14, 2022

Dixon-Waters strained his groin ahead of USC’s loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal. Before that, he’d been one of USC’s most consistent bench players, averaging 8.8 points and three rebounds per game over his last five.

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White’s role diminished during the season as he dealt with nagging injuries. But as a starter during USC’s Elite Eight run last year, he was indispensable, making a combined seven three-pointers during wins over Kansas and Oregon.

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