Center DeWayne Dedmon has made waves across the basketball world as a high-profile recruit with an unusual story.
Dedmon, a 7-foot, 225-pound junior college player at Antelope Valley College, didn't begin playing organized basketball until he turned 18, at the behest of his mother, a Jehovah's Witness. But since he began playing during his senior year at Lancaster High in Lancaster, Calif., Dedmon has developed what scouts and coaches say is both a love for the game and a much-needed willingness to get better.
He averaged just 6.6 points and 7.8 rebounds last season at Antelope Valley after greyshirting his first year at the school to learn the game under coach Dieter Horton, now an assistant coach for the Trojans. USC coach Kevin O'Neill knows and freely admits that Dedmon is raw.
He only needs to look at Dedmon's first three games at the junior-college level — all games he fouled out of — to see that, but O'Neill also sees the potential Dedmon exudes with seven-block or 15-point, 14-rebound performances in key late-season games.
Dedmon, who signed a letter of intent to play for USC in April, will spend the fall semester finishing up his associates' degree at Antelope Valley and enroll at USC in January, suiting up for the team only for the 2011-2012 season. Here's an interview with the 20-year-old Dedmon.
Question: Describe, first of all, what your decision involved in choosing USC?
Answer: I chose SC because I like the school, the program and the coaches. Coach O'Neill showed me super interest, just like everybody else, saying 'We want you.' But it was kinda different with Coach O'Neill. He would say that and then he'd be here once a week to watch me during the summer and talk to me every day. The interest showed that he really wanted me.
Q: Was the fact that USC self-imposed a postseason ban on its basketball team this year disheartening at all for you, a recruit very much considering signing with the Trojans? And did you pay attention to the national scope of everything that hit the football program last week?
A: Well, yeah, they had assured me that there wasn't going to be any (long-term) problems, so that helped my decision also. And yeah, I was paying attention to everything just making sure that everything would be fine for my year, making sure that everything would be alright when I come.
Q: Do you look at yourself — with two years of experience, essentially — like you have a lot of room to grow in your next few years at 'SC? More than the average high school recruit?
A: Yeah, a lot of room to grow. And I think I can improve a lot more than a lot of guys. No, I know I do — because I started so late, so I still have a lot to catch up on.
Q: Coach Horton is going to follow you, I guess, from Antelope Valley to USC. Is that cool for you, having a guy who really helped you develop as a player now be with you for the rest of your college career?
A: Yeah, that'll help a lot. He's a familiar face, and I know exactly how he coaches and how he is, so that'll help.
Q: How did O'Neill sell you on coming to USC? A lot of recruits seem to have interesting stories on how he got them interested — what was it for you?
A: Well, Coach Horton, the way he coaches here at AVC is basically the same way Coach O'Neill coaches. It'll be an easy transition for me, an easy transfer from coach to coach because of their style of coaching.
Q: What are the similarities between the two coaches? What do they have in common?
A: It's personality. They care about their players, they're willing to help their players and all that.
Q: Both the 2010 and 2011 classes for USC have quite a bit of talent, with guys like Bryce Jones, Maurice Jones, Garrett Jackson, Curtis Washington in this year's class and you and Fuller next season. Can you see you guys becoming the next wave of starters for USC?
A: Yeah, definitely. Aaron, Bryce, Maurice, all of them are all good players and the coaches talk really highly about them, so I don't see why we wouldn't be really good.