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Historically, a women's college basketball program needs a certain amount of depth of talent around their superstar to win a national championship. Just take into consideration the dynastic runs of Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart. Both of their UConn Huskies teams were filled to the brim with pro-level talent and game-changing stars. There's no way Moore wins back-to-back national titles without Tina Charles. The same can be said for Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck when examining Stewart's' four-peat.

Given the noise USC is making this offseason, it's almost like the Trojans and coach Lindsay Gottlieb got to work crafting a plan while watching South Carolina's well-oiled machine kick back against any effort Caitlin Clark and Iowa made in the national title game. Clark's failure to win a NCAA championship during her illustrious career only confirmed concerns for the Trojans: They have to surround their budding superstar, JuJu Watkins, with a wealth of top talent if they want to win it all.

In landing elite Stanford transfer Kiki Irianfen, the Trojans are looking to do just that. Her importance is best understood after explaining how USC has already arrived here with Watkins, who was nothing short of spectacular as a freshman. A generational high school talent, Watkins' 27.1 points, 7.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game helped lift USC from its No. 21 AP preseason ranking to a Pac-12 championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, Watkins' starring role was boosted by her supporting castmates. McKenzie Forbes averaged over 14 points this season and Rayah Marshall was a walking double-double, averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds a game. But, similar to Iowa, Watkins didn't have a major co-star who could help ease the defensive pressure when things got tight in March. 

USC's Elite Eight loss to Connecticut is a clear example of this. UConn honed in on Watkins, forcing someone else on USC's team to beat them. Even though she finished with 29 points, Watkins shot an inefficient 9 of 25 from the field. The Trojans looked to Forbes to fill in offensively during a drought, but her 24 points on 8-for-22 shooting came in a similarly inefficient manner.

Meanwhile, UConn's duo of Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards put up nearly identical numbers to Watkins and Forbes (Bueckers and Edwards scored 28 and 24 points, respectively), but they did so in an efficient manner. Edwards went 10 of 14 from the floor while Bueckers shot 11 of 23. This type of dual efficiency from two WNBA-caliber players allowed the pair to play off each other and weather any storm USC could create. In the end, that pushed the Huskies past the Trojans and into the Final Four. 

The Trojans are determined to learn from their mistakes and the missteps of their peers. This offseason, USC has been hyper-focused on surrounding Watkins with the talent needed for her to be cutting down the nets in Tampa, Florida, next April.

Iriafen enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023-24 for the Cardinal, posting 19.4 points and 11 rebounds while shooting nearly 55% from the floor. And she did all of this while playing beautifully alongside another dominant big in Cameron Brink, who was just selected by the Los Angeles Sparks at No. 2 in the WNBA Draft.

247Sports' Brandon Clay slots Iriafen at No. 2 in his transfer portal player rankings; former Oregon State star Raegan Beers, who has multiple seasons of eligibility remaining to Iriafen's one, ranks first for that reason. 

While Iriafen is a terrific land, the Trojans need even more if they're going to build a championship squad around Watkins. And this is where the recruiting chops of Gottlieb come into play. 

As it stands, USC is bringing in a six-player class headlined by three 5-star guards: Kennedy Smith of California, New York's Kayleigh Heckel and Avery Howell from Idaho. The rest of the class is filled out by four stars Vivian Iwuchukwu (F, Florida), Rian Forestier (G, Texas) and Laura Williams (F, Virginia).

It'll be hard for Gottlieb to keep this class intact in the transfer portal-era. But if even two or three of these players live up to their billing and buy into what Gottlieb is selling them, then USC could have a homegrown core that rivals the foundations UConn built decades earlier. 

Reeling in Iriafen gives USC time to mature its star-studded freshmen class, creating a bridge into Big Ten and national dominance. Just look at the way Kamilla Cardoso's presence opened up the door for freshmen Tessa Johnson and MiLaysia Fulwiley this postseason during South Carolina's title run.

This is the biggest splash of the offseason. And it was a vital one. A Trojan dynasty is being built around JuJu.