USC's Dynamic Freshman Duo Of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu|
Dec. 16, 2015
by Katie Ryan (Feature story in the current USC Men's Basketball Game Program)
Dynamic duos have been a part of sports throughout the ages. Legendary athletes such as Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are remembered not only for their personal accomplishments, but also as dominant teammates. While its still early in the 2015-16 collegiate basketball season, USC’s freshmen twosome of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu have greatly impacted the Trojan team.
With help from these two forwards, the Trojans are off to their best start since the 2006-07season. On Thursday, Nov. 27, USC had a milestone win as they knocked off No. 20 Wichita State 72-69 in the first-round of the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Fla. This was the first time USC beat a Top 25 team since Feb. 27, 2013, in an 89-78 victory over No. 11 Arizona.
While similar in height and position, it’s their differences that make them an interesting twosome. The 6-10 Boatwright has a quiet, humble personality. Known as “Bennie Buckets” for his impressive shooting ability, he scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the second half of the Wichita State game. He made five of nine three-point attempts, had five rebounds, three steals and a block. This season he is averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He leads USC in three-pointers made and is third on the team with 54rebounds. The 6-11 Metu has an outgoing personality and is a force to be reckoned with defensively. He is averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, while leading the team with 23 blocks.
They each took quite different paths to begin their athletic careers.
Boatwright appeared destined to play basketball.
“Ever since I was born, I was ready to play basketball,” he said. “As soon as I popped out of the stomach. That’s what my dad likes to say. He had a plan for me to play the game.”
His father, Bennie Boatwright Sr., not only helped him grow his passion for the sport, but also has been an important part of developing his skills. Boatwright Sr., an LAPD sergeant, would have Boatwright and his brother Daniel shoot between 500 and 1,000 baskets every morning before school.
“My dad is very motivated and he put that same work ethic in me,” he said. “He would get me up early in the morning. We’d sometimes go to the police academy because there was a gym there. It was a lot of great time spent with my dad.”
Boatwright still shoots in his free time to perfecting his craft.
“I still shoot extra all the time. I don’t like getting up early though,” he said with a smile. “I’ll do it after practice instead.”
As a high school player, Boatwright earned some impressive accolades. He was named the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year as he averaged 27.8 points and 13 rebounds for Village Christian in Sun Valley, Calif. His team won the Southern Section 1AA title. He was also a Los Angeles Times All-Star and CIF Division 1 Co-Player of the Year.
Boatwright chose to attend USC because it felt like home.
“First of all, I’ve known Jason Hart since the 8th grade. He maintained a relationship with me throughout my high school career. When he got the job here, I already knew what he was about, and I then saw what Andy Enfield was trying to do. I was on board. Also, I live like 20 minutes down the street. It felt like coming home.”
Not only has Boatwright come home, but he now has a new appreciation for the Trojan Family.
“Before I got here, I didn’t think I would say ‘Fight On’, but I’ve said it. Everybody is all in with SC. Everybody is a family here. Everybody is helping you and supports you. It’s great. The Trojan Family is a real thing.”
The communications major sees how utilizing his passion for sports can be an outlet for change.
“One thing I definitely want to do is help people in any type of way that I can. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do so yet, but I just want to help people. That’s what I’m playing basketball for. When I’m done helping my family, I want to help others.”
Boatwright is ready to help make the Trojans a feared team in the Pac-12.
“As a team, we want to win championships. We will go game by game and then win the tournaments we play in. Then we want to win the Pac-12 and make it to the tournament. Individually, I’m just going to go out there any play hard every night. That’s what I’m always going to do.”
Chimezie Metu did not grow up with the same pedigree of Boatwright, but worked hard to become one of the top recruits in the country.
After being born in Harbor City, Calif., Metu moved with his father to Nigeria when he was five. While in Nigeria, he became interested in sports.
“I started playing soccer and basketball,” Metu said. “I had a basketball hoop, and there was a little field I would go to and play soccer with my friends. Those have always been my two favorite sports, but I always just played for fun. My favorite team growing up was Manchester United. That was the first team I ever rooted for, even before basketball.”
After seven years of living in Africa, Metu moved back to the United States where he had his first experience with organized athletics.
“When I got to Jane Addams Middle School, I saw a kid with a basketball jersey on and asked him, “There’s a basketball team here?’ and he was like ‘Yeah, come try out!’ I tried out and made the team. Ever since then, I’ve been playing and getting better every day.”
Metu’s hard work proved to be invaluable as he became one of the best high school players in California. He was named the John R. Wooden Award winner and the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year. He averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game. He led Lawndale High to the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA title game where they lost in double overtime to Canyon of Anaheim.
While at Lawndale High, Metu was part of multiple teams that made school history.
“The four years I was there, it was the first time a lot of things happened,” he said. “My senior year was the first time we ever went past the third round in playoffs. Sophomore year was the first time we ever won a league championship and won the most games in school history. I’m proud to be a part of Lawndale.”
Metu likes to see himself as a role model for the athletes at his high school.
“I still keep in touch with a lot of the kids at my high school,” he said. “They ask me a lot of questions. I’ve been trying to provide them with a positive image so they can work hard and get here too.”
Mezie, as his teammates call him, believes that he brings some important skills to the team.
“I bring versatility and energy on the defensive end, and the ability to block shots. I think I showed that in the first few games. Also, it’s important that I be a great teammate.”
Metu has set some high goals for himself during his time at Troy.
“Individually, I want it known that I maxed out,” he said. “At the end of my career, I want people to say that I fulfilled my potential. I also want to be known as a great team player.”
As a law, history and culture major, Metu wants to use his talents to improve the lives of others.
“I want to be a lawyer,” he said. “I’ve always thought it was a really interesting profession. I really like helping people. Even on the court, I’d rather get an assist before I get a basket, even though sometimes it doesn’t look good. I really like to help others.”
Different personalities, playing strengths and backgrounds distinguish these two freshmen phenoms, while also making them quite the dynamic duo. They both have high expectations for this season.
“Coach doesn’t want us to make any predictions, but I feel like its going to be a great season,” Metu said. “I feel like were going to be able to compete for a Pac-12 championship, both in the regular season and in the conference tournament. We’ve been playing really well.”
“We have something big in store for the Trojan Family,” Boatwright said. “We’re working really hard in the gym. Hopefully the fans will see the results.”