Jarvis Turner is listed as a probable starter against St. Bonaventure tonight despite nursing a sore back through the start of the Trojans' nonconference schedule.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward has started all three games but has been receiving therapy for the injury. That might explain a slight dip in his numbers from last season, when he averaged 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. Turner, playing 16 minutes a game, is scoring seven points and grabbing three rebounds.
Coach Henry Bibby does not consider the injury serious.
"He's had some problems but I don't think it's a factor," Bibby said. "I listen to the trainer and I listen to the player. If Jarvis says, 'Coach, I have a bad back,' then I'll take that into consideration. No one told me that so I'm not coaching as if he has a bad back."
The Trojans can afford to be patient because substitute Sam Clancy is making the most of his time on the court. The freshman is averaging 7.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game.
The injured ankle that hobbled Jason Thomas for much of the fall has healed sufficiently for him to play on the Trojan scout team in football practices, but it remains uncertain if Thomas will join the basketball team, as planned, at midseason.
"We haven't talked since football season started," Bibby said. "[Thomas] says he wants to play but he hasn't been around to any practices or come by my office."
Best known as a Parade All-American quarterback at Dominguez High, Thomas also starred in basketball, averaging more than 20 points while helping his school to state Division II championships in 1996 and 1997. Shortly after arriving at USC this fall, he had surgery to remove scar tissue from his left ankle.
The basketball team's 1998-99 media guide barely mentions the freshman, but that doesn't rule out his joining the team in December or early January. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, he would join a group of forwards that includes Jeff Trepagnier, Turner, Greg Lakey and Clancy.
"We would welcome him," Bibby said. "But I'm sure football is foremost on his mind right now."
vs. St. Bonaventure
5 p.m., Channel 9
Update--The 3-0 Trojans, trying to extend their best start since the 1988-89 season, face a St. Bonaventure team led by forward Rashaan Palmer, who averaged 17.5 points last season.