USC’s Isaiah Collier on returning to court this season and overcoming adversity: ‘It’s been a learning process for all of us’

Isaiah Collier enters USC’s freshman year as the top recruit out of high school, and the Trojans have high expectations for this season, led by Collier and Bronny James, who return. Veterans and star players have joined the team.

USC started the season ranked No. 16 but quickly fell off the map after a series of losses in early December. The team currently has a record of 11-16 and ranks 11th in the Pac-12 Conference.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges and adversity, so we’ve just learned how to overcome them and it’s up to us,” Collier told Yahoo Sports. “I haven’t lost like this before, so it’s been a learning experience. It’s been a learning curve for me.” It’s a process for us and it’s a learning process for all of us. It’s part of the game and it’s about how our team overcomes the difficulties.”

Collier, a 6-foot-5 guard, injured his hand on Jan. 10 and missed four weeks. Some have speculated that Collier will end his season in retirement. Projected first-round picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but he returned to the court better than ever. In five games since the injury, Collier averaged 17.8 points and five assists.

“I’m back to 100 percent,” Collier added. “I’m taking rehab very seriously. I’m very grateful to the staff for helping me through the injury. I’m just keeping watching film and doing physical training.”

Collier was instrumental in helping James join the Trojans over Oregon State and Ohio State. As a senior in high school, the two’s on-court chemistry was on full display at the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Nike Basketball Summit due to Collier’s injury. James has had a late start to the season and has had limited time on the court after recovering from a cardiac arrest in August. Later in the season, the two found each other in transition and in different halves of the game, which was a positive for the struggling Trojans.

“Me and Bronny, we have this bond and now the whole team and everybody in the locker room has that bond, so it’s great,” Collier said. “We just want to come together as a team. , do that running.”

USC needs to pull off a miracle in the Pac-12 Tournament to have a chance of making it to the 68-team NCAA Tournament. The Trojans defeated UCLA 62-56 on Saturday. USC was led by senior guard Boogie Ellis, who scored 24 points. Collier added 11 points and four assists in the win. It will be an uphill battle to end the season at the top of the table and Collier said the team is ready and knows what they need to focus on to make significant progress.

“Being ourselves, playing defense and rebounding. That helps us a lot,” Collier said.

USC will face No. 19 Washington State on Friday and No. 6 Arizona on March 9 before traveling to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship. Two tough matchups against ranked teams could give Collier and the Trojans a spark and momentum for a pressure-packed playoff run. With Collier back on the court, NBA scouts and executives want to take a closer look at the talented guard ahead of the June draft. Collier was focused on one thing.

“I just want to show them [NBA scouts] “We can win, I can win,” Collier said. “I just have to come back and do whatever I can to help the team and be a leader on the court.”

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