With recent transfers Talia von Oelhoffen and Kiki Iriafen joining first-team All-American JuJu Watkins and the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class at USC next season, the Trojans look to transition from an up-and-coming squad to a legitimate title contender. 

Former Oregon State graduate student von Oelhoffen is the latest collegiate talent to commit to the program, announcing her transfer Monday via ESPN. She follows ex-Stanford leading-scorer Iriafen in the jump to the pair’s one-time Pac-12 rival.

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The 5-foot-11 Washington native was a two-time All-Pac-12 guard during her time at Oregon State. But after the recent dissolution of the Pac-12, the Corvallis side found themselves without a permanent home conference going forward. Many big name players opted to take their skill elsewhere as a result, with von Oelhoffen’s fellow ex-Beaver Raegan Beers announcing her own departure to Oklahoma on Monday.

According to DraftKings, USC is now tied with UConn for the second-best betting odds to win the 2025 NCAA women’s tournament. Dawn Staley’s tested South Carolina side, poised for a repeat performance, holds down the number one spot.

Last year, LSU loaded up in the transfer portal after beating Iowa to win the 2023 national championship. The Tigers were clear favorites coming into the 2023-24 season, but were bounced in the Elite Eight by Caitlin Clark’s Hawkeyes. Shortly thereafter, star transfer Hailey Van Lith opted to transfer a second time, this time signing with TCU. 

Yet while history proves that an excess of star power doesn’t always translate to on-court chemistry, on paper, USC sure looks ready to hold their own — in 2025 and beyond.

Former Stanford leading-scorer Kiki Iriafen is set to join star rising sophomore JuJu Watkins at USC next year, reported ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday. 

The 6-foot-3 forward is coming off a breakout season with the Cardinal, where the then-junior led Stanford to the Sweet 16 with an average of 19.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Walking away with the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player award and a spot on the All-Pac-12 team, Iriafen entered the portal at the close of last season and was subsequently ranked second on ESPN’s 2024-2025 transfer ranking list.

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At USC, Iriafen will play out her senior year alongside the Women's Basketball Coaches Association’s 2024 National Freshman of the Year JuJu Watkins, forming what could be an explosive partnership for the Trojans as they look to build momentum going into next season. The Southern California side advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1994 this year, ultimately falling to UConn in a heated 80-73 battle.

Iriafen wasn’t the only one making choices this past week. LSU guard Hailey Van Lith officially announced her own transfer to TCU on Friday, while Princeton standout Kaitlyn Chen committed to UConn for her final year of college eligibility. Other big names still weighing their options are Oregon State's Talia Von Oelhoffen and Raegan Beers, as well as UNC's Deja Kelly.

With conference realignment on the horizon and team fit a contending factor, the NCAA women's basketball transfer portal has been busier than ever. And while transfers can bolster many types of college programs, this particular offseason has seen talent-rich programs growing even richer.

As part of our 1-v-1 video series, USC’s India Otto sat down to interview teammate JuJu Watkins. 

Here are five things to know from our conversation with the freshman phenom from LA.

#1 JuJu defines her purpose as wanting to inspire others to not place limits on themselves.

Her advice to younger athletes is to “take a step back and just realize how grateful you are to be around so many great people and be in an environment where you’re able to have an impact on others. And don’t take that for granted any day.” She recommends “just always being in constant awe of how far you’ve come.”

#2 JuJu is self-reflective when it comes to the impact of her growing social media fame.

"People are always going to have something to say, so I think just taking that mindset that you can’t be perfect and everybody’s always going to have an opinion on something.”

#3 An LA native, JuJu says the state of basketball in LA is “just booming right now.”

“The Pac-12 and LA is just amazing, and I’m just glad that I’m able to be a part of that and feel the atmosphere every night.”

#4 JuJu is known for her drip.

Her favorite brands are Rick Owens, Alexander Wang, and Nike. And if she could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive), she would choose Drake, Bob Marley, and Beyonce. 

#5 JuJu’s favorite piece of advice:

“To whom much is given. Much is required.”

Watch the full conversation on the Just Women’s Sports YouTube channel.

JuJu Watkins is continuing on a historic pace, having broken Lisa Leslie’s record for 30-point games by a USC freshman just six games into the season.

As the unanimous No. 1 overall recruit of the 2023 class, Watkins came to the Trojans with high expectations – both from others and from herself. She even went so far as to tell Ari Chambers that among her goals for her college career are to win the national freshman of the year award and to lead USC to the national title by her senior year.

“Definitely have to have a natty by then for sure,” Watkins said.

And she’s off to a solid start.

After scoring a USC record 32 points in her debut, Watkins is averaging 26.8 points per game, sitting second in the nation behind reigning national player of the year Caitlin Clark (29.6). Through the first three weeks of the season, she’s taken home every single Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award – and she probably will take home the next.

Through six career games, Watkins has 161 points, 45 rebounds, 19 assists, 14 steals and 8 blocks, and she has helped USC to a perfect 6-0 record. In the last 20 years, according to OptaSTATS, just one other NBA, WNBA or D-I basketball player has reached all of those numbers over a six-game span: LeBron James.

Watkins also has led the No. 6 Trojans to their highest AP Top 25 ranking since 1994 – when Leslie was in her senior year.

And Watkins has gained the attention of NBA stars, including USC alum DeMar DeRozan.

“I’ve known her for awhile, so I’m not surprised at it at all,” he said of her performances so far. “Not at all. It’s amazing to see what she represent, what she come from. To be able to stay home and bring women’s basketball back to the high level that it’s at. … It’s amazing to see what she’s doing with that. What the whole program is doing. I’m not surprised, but I’m definitely happy for sure.”

USC freshman JuJu Watkins is continuing on her historic pace for the season.

On Wednesday, Watkins had 31 points and 12 rebounds in No. 8 USC’s 71-70 win over Penn State. With the Trojans down six to Penn State with two minutes left, Watkins scored seven straight points to win the game.

While her performance was huge for the Trojans as they avoided the upset, it also made history in the process. It was her third 30-point game of the season, tying Lisa Leslie for the most such games by a freshman in school history, per ESPN Stats & Info. And that’s just five games into the season.

“She’s special,” head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said of Watkins. “There’s no more adjectives I can use.”

“She keeps showing me new things. The most telling thing is how much her teammates freaking love her, because when she gets knocked down and battered, they’re going to play better, because they understand how hard she works and what a great teammate she is.”

And perhaps her best points of the night came right before the half, as Watkins drained a half-court buzzer beater to pull the Trojans even with the Nittany Lions.

“I think it just goes back to the team,” Watkins said when asked how she stays in rhythm. “They put so much trust in me. Even when I’m turning the ball over — tonight wasn’t great for me — but they still believed in me and continued to empower me.”

USC freshman JuJu Watkins has high expectations for her time with the Trojans.

Speaking with Ari Chambers on “ChattHER,” Watkins said that it’s “been great” stepping into her first year. While she had confidence in both the program and in her teammates before college, it’s grown exponentially since she stepped on campus.

“To come here, have my family here, have an even bigger family now that I’m here in the staff, the coaches, my teammates, it’s a dream come true and I couldn’t have wished for anything better,” the Southern California native said.

Watkins’ motivations include the feeling of winning and being able to share that with her team. But she also just wants to be happy, noting that happiness is “everything.”

Already, Watkins has the Trojans (3-0) off to a hot start. She scored 32 points in her debut against Ohio State, the most by a USC freshman in her debut since Lisa Leslie. And against Le Moyne on Monday, she had 35 points.

She’s the first D-I freshman in the last 25 seasons with multiple 30-point games in her first three career games. And she joins Leslie as the only USC freshmen to have multiple 30-point games.

One of her goals this year is to get USC to the NCAA Tournament. Another is to win the national freshman of the year award. Already, she’s off to a good start. And beyond that? She wants to bring USC a national title by her senior year.

“Definitely have to have a natty by then for sure,” she said when asked about what she wants to accomplish in her college career. And then the next thing? “Player of the year, Naismith.”

On Friday, 574 days after her last basketball game, Aaliyah Gayles made her debut for USC.

Gayles entered with 1:40 left in the game to a standing ovation from the USC bench and cheers from the crowd at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. As the clock ticked down on the 67-51 win over Florida Gulf Coast, she dribbled the ball near half court and was surrounded by her teammates in celebration.

“It felt good,” Gayles told ESPN. “It boosted my confidence a little bit. I feel like I was back to my old self.”

It’s been a long road back for Gayles, who was shot at least nine times at a Las Vegas house party in April 2022. She had multiple surgeries to repair the damage from the shooting, with left fractures in all four of her limbs. Before she worked her the way back to the court, she had to learn how to walk again, and she spent her freshman year in intense rehab.

Her father, Dwight, was in attendance Sunday, as was USC legend Cheryl Miller.

“It sent chills through my body,” Dwight told ESPN. “She did it. She finally touched the floor of a USC basketball court.”

Aaliyah Gayles is cleared and eligible to play basketball for USC more than a year after she was shot at least nine times at a Las Vegas house party in April 2022.

Even when Gayles could hardly walk after the shooting, her return to the basketball court stayed on her mind. And she did so last September, when she first was cleared to train. She redshirted at USC last year, doing rehab on the sidelines as she watched her Trojan teammates put together a solid season, which included an upset of Stanford.

“I could be dropping dimes to my bigs right now. I could be dropping dimes to my shooters,” Gayles told ESPN at the time. “All I want to do is help my teammates. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. Get back on my feet so I can help them for next year.”

It was only a matter of time before she joined them. But it was still a long road back.

“It was never about just go play basketball,” USC athletic trainer Erin Tillman told ESPN. “It was like, just learn how to live first.”

Eventually, she made her way back, joining the team in the weight room and on the court for drills with her teammates. There’s still some hesitancy to her play, and it’s a little bit harder than it used to be.

“It’s like she’s not 100% who she was before, but sometimes I see herself get frustrated and doubt herself,” USC forward Rayah Marshall said. “I’m like, ‘Calm down. The game will come to you. Play your game. Don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t go overthinking things. It’s just basketball.'”

Still, Gayles will be eligible to play starting on  Nov. 6, when No. 21 USC opens its season against No. 7 Ohio State. The game will be played in Las Vegas, Gayles’ hometown. And while she might not make her USC debut in that game, she can see it on the horizon.

“That’s the No. 1 thing on my mind right now,” she told ESPN. “Playing and getting right.”

And her teammates have no doubt that she will.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as resilient,” Marshall said. “She just have this dog in her.”

Aneesah Morrow has a transfer destination: LSU.

One of the top players in the NCAA basketball transfer portal this offseason, Morrow had narrowed down her list to LSU, USC and South Carolina, and she visited both USC and LSU. After spending last weekend in Baton Rouge, she canceled her visit to South Carolina and committed to the reigning champion Tigers.

She announced her decision in a video sponsored by Caktus AI, in which she asked the tool various questions about the transfer process, ending with: “I want to win championships and build a dynasty. Where is the best place for me to achieve my goals?”

The answer for Morrow: LSU, which just won its first national championship in coach Kim Mulkey’s second year with the program.

In Morrow’s two seasons at DePaul, she led the Big East in rebounding and double-doubles. In the 2022-23 season, she finished fourth in the country in scoring with 25.7 points per game.

She joins Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith in flipping to LSU, pushing the Tigers’ chances for a repeat title even higher.

Morrow also makes the Tigers that much more dangerous, as the 6-1 forward is one of the most productive players in the country. She also has two years of eligibility remaining, meaning she’ll be playing with Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson for a while yet.

“I’m never intimidated by playing against or playing on a team with amazing, talented players,” the rising junior told ESPN. “That’s what I want to be surrounded around. I want to be around players who are going to make me better.”

LSU is pulling out all the stops when it comes to recruiting Aneesah Morrow.

After landing Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith in a blockbuster move, the reigning national champions hosted Morrow for an official visit last weekend. During that visit, they decked out her hotel room with snacks, confetti and fake dollar bills with Morrow’s photo on them — plus edited photos of the DePaul transfer decked out in purple-and-gold Tigers gear.

@_neesthabeast Official visit 🥳#lsu #24 #fypシ #wbb #viral #fyp ♬ Ice Cream Man X Walk It Talk It (Remix) - Keenan Anshari

LSU also used block letters to spell out her last name in true Baton Rouge fashion, writing “Morreaux” on the window in reference to the school’s “Geaux Tigers” catchphrase.

One of the top players in the country last season, the 20-year-old forward finished as the NCAA’s fourth-leading scorer with 25.7 points per game.

LSU is one of three schools on Morrow’s shortlist, along with USC and South Carolina. She already has visited USC, and she had an official visit to South Carolina planned for the end of this week, ESPN’s Alexa Philippou reported.

A decision could be imminent. “TODAY IS THE DAY,” Morrow tweeted Friday morning, fueling speculation about her next destination.