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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
USC hyping up the arrival of Jio Fontan

By Diamond Leung

Remember Mike Gerrity? (The Pac-10 does because after all this time he's still the featured player on the background of their basketball web page.)

The USC point guard became eligible last December and provided such a spark as a redshirt senior that the Trojans had the look of possible NCAA tournament team before self-sanctions put that to rest.

Jio Fontan -- this year's version of Gerrity -- becomes eligible on Saturday when USC plays at Kansas, and while the Fordham transfer's debut is being overshadowed by Josh Selby's, Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill is pretty fired up about it.

"He's our best player," O'Neill said. "He's our best leader. He's our best scorer. He's our best defender. He's our best passer. He's our best guard. He's our best player."

So... O'Neill likes his new point guard. Fontan certainly was good as a freshman at Fordham averaging 15.3 points and 4.7 assists before leaving after five games into his sophomore season and deciding on USC.

O'Neill said if Fontan had been eligible at the start of the season, the 6-4 Trojans who've lost to Rider, Bradley, Nebraska and TCU would probably be 9-1 or 8-2.

Fontan's abilities should prevent teams from doubling post players Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson while providing relief for the freshman backcourt of Bryce Jones and Maurice Jones.

Fontan is said to have gotten himself into shape after the long layoff from playing and will now attempt to have a Gerrity-like effect on the Trojans.

And in a Pac-10 where teams are jostling for position behind Washington and Arizona and USC is once again eligible for postseason play, that might be all the Trojans need to make some noise.