USC lands four recruits with championship experience

Four players who led their club teams to medal finishes at the 2016 USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championships have committed to USC.

The Trojans announced Thursday that high school seniors Noah Franklin, Mitch Haley, Sam Lewis and Cole Paxson all signed national letters of intent to play for USC beginning in 2018.


“We are thrilled to welcome the Class of 2017,” coach Jeff Nygaard said in a statement. “We feel confident these players will fit nicely into our program. They each bring talent and skill that will help us get to the championship level.”

Lewis, a 6-foot-10 middle attacker from Long Beach, California, was a member of the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team that won the silver medal at the NORCECA U19 Continental Championship this summer. In addition, Lewis helped his club team win a bronze medal at the the Junior National Championships and with his high school team was named the 2016 Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Player of the Year.

Paxson, a 5-foot-10 libero from Laguna Beach, California, won a gold medal at the Junior National Championship and helped the United States qualify for the 2017 U19 FIVB World Championship during the summer. The libero also was a first-team all-state selection and had more than 300 digs last season with his high school team.

Haly, a 6-for-7 middle attacker from Coronea del Mar, California, helped his club team win a national championship earlier this year and reach the championship match in 2015. In addition, Haly as a member of his high school team was named to the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team and was a first-team all-league selection.

Franklin, a 6-foot-6 recruit from Huntington Beach, California, won a bronze medal with his club team at the 2016 Junior National Championships. The outside attacker and the son of the USC athletics videoboards director also was an all-conference selection with his high school team and won a bronze medal at the at the recent USA Volleyball High Performance Championship.

USC in Nygaard’s first year as the head coach did not qualify for the MPSF Tournament last season. The Trojans, though, return a majority of starters for the upcoming season, including three-year starter and all-conference middle attacker Andy Benesh.