Evan Mobley catches all the attention for Trojans

Playing with a family member is a great experience for any player. Especially if you are a highly ranked player and your brother is another recognizable force to be reckoned with.

Playing alongside his brother is nothing new for USC men’s basketball freshmen Evan Mobley. For three years at Rancho Christian School in Temecula, California, Evan and Isaiah Mobley played side-by-side one another. With both players being Trojans, Evan has the luxury of being on the same court with Isaiah, a sophomore.  

But being a household name before even stepping out onto the hardwood is a new endeavor this Evan must get used to quickly. It also helps that his father, USC assistant coach Eric Mobley, will be there for the school’s 2020-21 campaign. 

“Evan is a special talent,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said in a media press conference. “He’s seven feet tall, runs like a guard and is very skilled, and a great passer for his size.”

As a senior at Rancho Christian School, Evan averaged 20.5 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.2 blocks, and 4.6 assists during his senior season. Evan signed with USC as the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruit, the first time that USC men’s basketball landed the top-ranked signee.

With his notable talent, Evan in April was named the Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, an award announced by the McDonald’s All-American Game committee.

USC men’s basketball assistant coach Eric Mobley is the father of brothers Isaiah and Evan Mobley, both of whom star for the Trojans. Photo credit: Mark Hammond

From his time in high school, it has been a year since the Mobley brothers have played together. Now Evan trusts his brother will help lead the team and with Isaiah, many would expect both of them to sync together whenever they step out onto the hardwood.

“Me and him have a good connection so on the court we have a lot of good plays like throwing ally-oops to each other,” Evan said.

 As a newcomer, Evan wants to have responsibilities to play well not only for his brother, father, the team but also for himself.

“I just want to come on and do the best I possibly can do,” the younger Mobley said. “Come in every day to practice, trying to work hard, and asking the coaches what I can get better at. Coach Enfield has been helping me with my shooting, focusing a lot on that and trying to get better at my three-pointers.”

Besides playing well on the court, Evan said his goal is to help the team win.

“I just want to win the most amount of games, that’s mostly my goal for this season,” Evan said.

With Evan’s game, he looks to improve his shooting, being a threat by driving to the hoop on either side of the floor and being more creative with his passes to develop plays. Even with the comfort of having Isaiah out there on the floor next to him, Evan said he must still get used to college basketball demands day in and day out. 

“I feel like the biggest adjustment was the physicality and the speed of the game,” Evan said. “As you go up levels, the physicality and speed goes higher and higher and you got to get used to it.”

USC men's basketball player Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley, who was the No. 1 rated senior coming out of Rancho Christian School, is now starring for the Trojans with brother Isaiah. Photo credit: Mark Hammond

In early November, Evan was named to the 20-member 2021 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Watch List presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the 50-player 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Watch List, given to the top player in men’s college basketball by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

“The beginning of the season is filled with excitement, optimism and anticipation as each team and every player is undefeated, making the race for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy wide open, Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club said. “While these 50 candidates are those to keep an eye on, there will be plenty of others who will enter the competition throughout the season. This year will be especially exciting as players who were unable to finish their seasons last year have even more to prove.”

Other accolades that Evan has picked up prior to his commitment to Troy were winning gold medals representing USA Basketball at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup and the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup. He was named as a participant for the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team October minicamp and participated in the 2019 USA Men’s Junior National Team Next Generation minicamp at the NCAA Men’s Final Four

For this upcoming season, Evan was selected as the potential  Pac-12 Player of the Year and named to the 2020-21 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Preseason Media All-Conference First Team. He was one of two freshmen to make the list.

With the amount of talent the team has including Evan, coach Enfield can’t even believe how well of ball handler seven-footer is and how quick he is with his passing.

“I was looking at Evan Mobley’s arms the other day and this is just unbelievable,” Enfield said. “Almost a 7 foot 5 wingspan, we watch what he does because he is so active with his hands and arms.”

While his long list of achievements is impressive, it’s his caliber to create or aww his team that makes them all confident that he will play well. At practice, Evan was said to have volleyball-blocked guard Tahj Eaddy at practice, rejecting a jump shot, scooping up the ball and taking it for a breakaway dunk. Moments like these in the gym have led everyone to be quiet for a moment because they could not believe what they just saw.

“We practice every day so we always have the oohs and the awws but a lot of them mostly come from Evan,” USC sophomore forward Max Agbonkpolo said. “Just the way he’ll just stand under the rim with three guys around him and it’s just like, how did he do that with three people around.”

With the season in play now, USC expects that Evan to be able to replicate what he does at practice onto the court as the Trojans and other teams try to play basketball around the COVID-19 minefield. The dividends have already paid off for USC. In his first couple of games, Evan is scoring at a 16-point clip and averaging nine rebounds a game for the Trojans.      

Hopefully, Evan’s play will help the Trojans finally clear the mid-team tier. Last year, USC finished with a conference record 11-7 and an overall record of 22-9.

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