Dewayne Dedmon goes up for a dunk during a recent practice at USC. (University of Southern…)
Dewayne Dedmon, the 7-foot sophomore forward professional scouts and USC fans are eager to see, will be in the starting lineup Friday when the Trojans open against Cal State Northridge at the Galen Center.
And he will not be wearing a cast, splint or brace of any kind on his right hand, which was broken Oct. 11.
That injury has healed properly and Dedmon is free of pain, team athletic trainer David Borchardt said.
Dedmon had been practicing with the hand wrapped and had been concentrating on using his left hand.
"Obviously, he's a whole different player because he can catch the ball now," Coach Kevin O'Neill said Thursday.
While Dedmon wore a cast, USC was unable to practice with its preferred frontline of Dedmon, 7-1 James Blasczyk and 6-6 Aaron Fuller.
Sophomore point guard Maurice Jones, USC's leading returning scorer, said that lineup gives USC a huge advantage on defense, but he doesn't yet know how it will work on offense.
O'Neill said USC would focus on getting the ball to its tallest players down in the post.
The Trojans will have a significant size advantage against Northridge because the Matadors' tallest starter, Thomas Jacobs, is 6-6 and their heaviest player is 230 pounds. Dedmon is 255, Blasczyk 260 and Fuller 235.
Along with Dedmon, Jones and Fuller, O'Neill said freshman guard Byron Wesley and walk-on senior guard Eric Strangis will start against Northridge.
Strangis played only seven minutes last season and didn't score, but O'Neill quipped, "He probably has the second-most experience [as a USC player] on the team."
A few Pac-12 Conference teams have stumbled in preseason exhibition games.
Arizona, the defending conference champion, lost to Division II Seattle Pacific. Utah lost to Division II Adams State.
And UCLA, the preseason pick by the media to win the Pac-12, defeated Division II Cal State San Bernardino by single digits.
USC had no exhibitions this year, only closed scrimmages against Air Force and Long Beach State.
Jones said he's not sure what to expect from USC, a team that has just two healthy scholarship players.
"We're still learning," he said. "We've got to play defensively. We've got to play harder because we've got a lot of young guys and they're not used to this college level and this atmosphere."