Basketball: End-of-year capsules, No. 9


Over a two-week period that began last week, we're going over the 10 scholarship basketball players who were on USC's 2010-2011 roster -- one by one, Monday-Friday -- and recap their accomplishments in the now-completed season, no matter how big or how small. In order, the series has featured redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, redshirt sophomore Evan Smith,sophomore Curtis Washington, sophomore forward Garrett Jackson, sophomore guard Maurice Jones, departed senior guard Marcus Simmons, departed senior guard Donte Smith and departed senior forward Alex Stepheson, with the years in reference to what they will be come next season.

Now we have senior guard Jio Fontan.

Fontan became an immediate starter when he became eligible to play at Kansas on Dec. 18, and he made an immediate difference in the Trojans' offense -- although probably a little bit less of a difference than coach Kevin O'Neill expected.

See, O'Neill had pretty much spent the first 10 games of the season talking up Fontan, calling him his best player repeatedly and mentioning that the Trojans would have finished two or three games better than they did while he was out.

So, yes, Fontan made a nice-sized difference, but he wasn't the X-factor O'Neill hyped him up to be. He finished the season with averages of 10.5 points and 3.9 assists and a solid assist to turnover ratio.

His best games? A 21-point, four-assist game against Lehigh at home, 21 points in a win over Arizona at home and 20 points in a road win over Washington. He consistently showed up in big games and, when he moved to point guard before the Bay Area road trip, became a great ball distributor and a calm leading man for the Trojans.

Fontan will be a redshirt senior next season, but it's likely he'll be able to apply for another year -- and should get it -- from the NCAA at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season. He'll be sharing the backcourt with Maurice Jones for as long as he's here, but it seems like O'Neill is now set on utilizing Fontan as the point guard and Jones as the off guard.

Coming up shortly is departed junior forward Nikola Vucevic.