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DeRozan wins first USC basketball medal

first_imgDieuwertje Kast | Daily TrojanUSC’s Olympic legacy is unparalleled. Prior to the Rio games, more than 400 Trojan athletes have participated in a summer games, earning a total of 288 medals. However, one notable sport was missing a Trojan medal — men’s basketball. Former Trojan DeMar DeRozan made history this summer winning men’s basketball gold for the first time in USC history.“You have the opportunity to represent your country and play for a gold medal,” DeRozan told NBATV. “It’s something that comes around every four years. You don’t get the opportunity to do it as often.”DeRozan came to USC in 2008 as a five-star recruit from Compton High School. His decision to stay in Los Angeles was important, as it helped him achieve his goals while staying true to himself.“Having that opportunity to go to a school that I looked up to, where I was from, staying home and playing and earning a name for myself coming out of there [was important],” DeRozan said to the Pac-12 Networks.As a freshman, he led the Trojans in scoring as they fought their way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and became the Pac-12 Conference Tournament Champions. After the 2008-2009 season, DeRozan was ready for the next step in his basketball career, and he declared for the 2009 NBA Draft. The Toronto Raptors chose him with the ninth pick of the first round, making him the second highest NBA draft pick in USC history, behind only O.J. Mayo who was selected third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008.Once in Toronto, DeRozan established himself as a powerful player, and he quickly became one of the faces of the Raptors along with Team USA teammate Kyle Lowry. After only seven years as a professional, the two-time NBA All-Star has been a member of the 2014 FIBA World Cup champions, and is now an Olympian.Despite being an American playing in Canada during the NBA season, he has felt nothing but support from both countries.“It’s the best of both worlds,” DeRozan said. “I know a lot of Canada is rooting for me and [Lowry] to win. When you have the power to move two countries, it’s a great feeling.”On the Olympic stage, DeRozan continued to impress fans, coaches and teammates. He averaged 11.1 minutes a game in Rio, putting up 6.6 points and grabbing 1.4 rebounds per game. Team USA teammate, Golden State Warriors player Klay Thompson, was impressed with DeRozan.“He is taking the Raptors to new heights,” Thompson said to the Pac-12 Networks. “He has worked every year. He loves basketball and works on it like there is no tomorrow.”His focus and willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team is what makes him a valuable asset to the national team this year. He is willing to take on any role, even if that means sacrificing scoring points himself and not becoming the star of the show.“It’s whatever Coach K … and these guys need me to do,” DeRozan said to USA Today. “Whether it’s playing defense and running the floor, I’m going to do it.”That hard work and dedication to the sport has paid off for him. Shortly after he was chosen for the national team, he signed a $139 million, five-year deal with Toronto on the first day of free agency. Despite having multiple other offers, including one from his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, DeRozan was set on staying in Toronto where he has a connection to the fans and to his team.DeRozan brought home the final Olympic medal for America and for USC, bringing the total Trojan medal count to 309. DeRozan also has the opportunity to head to Tokyo in 2020 to compete for another one.last_img

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