USC: Garrett Jackson

Basketball: G Jones academically ineligible

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
7:46
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LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans guard Maurice Jones, the Trojans' leading scorer in 2011-2012, is academically ineligible for the upcoming season and has been dismissed from the university, a program source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Saturday.

Jones, a Michigan native, averaged 13 points and 3.5 assists for USC as a sophomore last season. He was slated to slide into a key sixth-man role this season, with senior Jio Fontan and transfer J.T. Terrell taking over as the starting guards.

Jones' departure means all five of the players from Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill's first two recruiting classes are no longer with the team, including Jones, forwards Evan Smith and Garrett Jackson, guard Bryce Jones and forward/center Curtis Washington.

USC begins its 2012-2013 season on Nov. 9 against Coppin State.

Basketball: USC hosting Woolridge on visit

April, 6, 2012
4/06/12
2:36
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Former University of Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge is visiting USC this weekend to consider a potential one-year transfer to the Trojans, a program source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday.

Woolridge, a lanky 6-foot-9 forward with an inside-outside game, is the son of former Los Angeles Lakers player Orlando Woolridge. He signed with Tennessee out of Harvard-Westlake in the class of 2008 and started 20 games over four seasons with the Volunteers but was granted a medical hardship waiver this offseason because of an ankle injury he suffered his junior year that limited him to only eight games.

He is a Sherman Oaks native and tweeted last week that he is "definitely leaning out West" for his next destination.

Woolridge averaged 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for Tennessee in roughly 14 minutes per game. All were career-highs. He memorably went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half of Tennessee's road loss to top-ranked Kentucky in January to finish with 17 points.

USC has one available scholarship slot left for the 2012-2013 season created by the departures of Garrett Jackson, Alexis Moore, Curtis Washington and Evan Smith, the signings of J.T. Terrell and Strahinja Gavrilovic and the commitment of Brendyn Taylor.

The Trojans are also pursuing UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi and Arizona Western College forward Renan Lenz to fill that slot, among others.

Basketball: Washington, Smith also on the way out

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
1:29
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USC announced last week that forward Garrett Jackson was transferring away from the Trojans and we reported Tuesday that guard Alexis Moore was joining him in departing.

Well, two more 2011-2012 Trojans are also leaving the basketball team, according to multiple program sources. Forward Curtis Washington has requested his release and will receive it this week and forward Evan Smith will leave the team via a medical retirement, staying in school and on scholarship but not counting against the team's 13-scholarship limit.

Both of the moves have been expected for some time.

Washington played 11 total minutes during his freshman season in 2010-2011 and then tore the labrum in his left shoulder last August, which forced him to miss all of last season. Smith played in four games for the Trojans last season before re-injuring the shoulder that has bothered him on and off since his arrival to USC in the class of 2009.

USC now has four open scholarships, two of which will be filled by 2012 signees J.T. Terrell and Strahinja Gavrilovic upon their summer arrival. The Trojans also have Woodland Hills Taft guard Brendyn Taylor committed for the third spot and continue to recruit other players for the fourth and final slot.

The spring signing period begins April 11 and lasts until May 16.

Basketball: Where the recruiting class stands

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
2:26
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Only one team USC played in 2011-2012 is still around in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament: second-seeded Kansas.

The Trojans played a few other eventual NCAA tourney teams this season, including No. 12-seeded Cal, No. 11-seeded Colorado, No. 5-seeded New Mexico and No. 6-seeded UNLV and San Diego State. They lost to all of them, with the closest thing to a win coming in the third game of the season against SDSU.

But enough about the tournament, which resumes Thursday. Let's take a look at where the Trojans could be next season and, more specifically, let's take a look at the makings of the next USC recruiting class.

Two players already signed in November, during the early signing period: guard J.T. Terrell and forward Strahinja Gavrilovic. Terrell is a junior-college transfer from Wake Forest who's expected to start right away next November. Gavrilovic, from the San Diego area, stands to be a non-factor in his first season with the Trojans.

The third spot is where things start to get interesting. USC had a commitment from Arizona prep point guard Dewayne Russell until a few weeks ago, when he de-committed shortly after the Trojans got another commitment from Woodland Hills Taft guard Brendyn Taylor.

(Read full post)

Basketball: Washington 80, USC 58

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
11:06
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Almost everything about the USC basketball team's 2011-2012 season has been a full-fledged disappointment, from the Trojans' 6-24 record to the injuries that have ravaged the squad to downright embarrassing attendance numbers at the Galen Center.

Then there's freshman Byron Wesley, who continues to be the lone bright spot in a very dark canvas. The 6-5 guard set another career-high on Thursday in the Trojans' 80-58 loss to Washington, scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting.

"If there's anything good about our season," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said after Thursday's game, "it's that this guy is really becoming a guy that's going to be hard to reckon with going forward in this league."

Wesley could now finish the season averaging double-digit points per game with strong performances in the regular-season finale against Washington State on Saturday and the Pac-12 tourney.

In his first five games, the Rancho Cucamonga native averaged 4.2 points per game. In his last five, he's putting up 18.4. He's also shooting 51 percent (37 of 72 attempts) in his last five compared to 27 percent (9 of 33) in his first five.

It's not hard to see the improvement.

Said O'Neill: "He is taking advantage of his opportunity, and good players do that."

Forward Garrett Jackson added 14 points for the Trojans. Washington's Terrence Ross led the Huskies with 18 points and forward Darnell Gant, an L.A. native, had 14 and a game-high nine rebounds.

Player of the game: Wesley was clearly USC's top performer; center James Blasczyk did have a career-high 10 points but only added three rebounds in his 33 minutes.

"This guy's becoming a premier player in this league," O'Neill said of Wesley.

Ross shot 8-of-13 from the field on his way to his 18 points. O'Neill said he looked at him as a prototypical NBA shooting guard, as long as he continued to improve his defense.

A sophomore, Ross is rated by most NBA draft prognosticators as a likely first-round selection in June's NBA draft if he chooses to declare.

Stat of the game: Washington (21-8, 14-3 in the Pac-12) out-rebounded the Trojans 49-23, the 16th-straight time USC has been out-rebounded this season.

"We miss so many shots that people get a lot of defensive rebounds," O'Neill said. "They're bigger and stronger than us. We don't have the capability to out-rebound people this year."

The last time the Trojans had more rebounds than an opponent was December 29 on the road against Cal, when they somehow produced 38 rebounds to the Bears' 25.

Quote of the game: "Kevin O'Neill is a testament to good coaching. They have one game left and have lost a lot of tough games and he is still fighting. He has been fighting all season." -- Washington coach Lorenzo Romar

His Huskies locked up a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title on Thursday, but it was interesting that Romar took time to praise O'Neill's coaching abilities in his postgame press conference. The two men have been complementary of each other in their three shared years in the conference.

Final notes: Attendance at the Galen Center was announced at 2,763, the lowest-ever number for a Pac-12 game in the history of the facility...With Senior Day on Saturday, O'Neill said he might start his lone senior -- walk-on guard Eric Strangis -- in the 3 p.m. contest against Washington State. For that game, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a Maurice Jones bobblehead...With a 1-16 Pac-12 record, the Trojans are now locked into the No. 12 seed for the Pac-12 tourney, meaning they will play the No. 5-seeded team at 2:30 p.m. PT next Wednesday.

Basketball: Stanford 59, USC 47

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
8:31
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It's getting to the point now where it's near-impossible to expect the USC Trojans to beat any opponent.

They'll compete the whole game and they'll stay within reach -- at least for the first half -- but they just won't win. There's not enough offense, there's not enough depth and there's not enough experience.

The lowly Trojans kept visiting Stanford close for almost 30 minutes on Sunday at the Galen Center but couldn't keep up down the stretch and fell, 59-47.

"This is the same old thing," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said afterward. "We had our chances, honestly. We've had our chances a lot.

"I thought we played pretty hard, pretty well. But when you're not making your shots, you're not making 'em."

USC (6-20, 1-12 in the Pac-12) is now nearing all-time worst status. The Trojans' most-ever losses in a single season came into 1988-1989, when they went 10-22. Their worst-ever winning percentage came in 1976-1977, when they were 6-20.

It's very likely they'll break both of those marks this season. With five regular-season games remaining and adding on a likely loss somewhere in the Pac-12 tournament, USC has to win four of its next five to not break the school record for losses.

Currently, the Trojans have won four of their last 21, dating back to Thanksgiving.

Stanford freshman Chasson Randle led all scorers with 16 points Sunday; Byron Wesley and Greg Allen each had 13 points for the Trojans and Maurice Jones added 10 points but on 2-of-14 shooting.

Player of the game: Wesley, a freshman, was assigned to defend Stanford leading scorer and senior Josh Owens for most of the evening and did an admirable job, according to O'Neill.

Owens, who has three inches and 30 pounds on Wesley, had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. But the Trojans' freshman didn't have a bad game, either -- scoring 13 points in 37 minutes.

He also added two assists, a block and a steal while playing his fourth-straight game of 37 or more minutes.

"I love the way Byron Wesley plays," O'Neill said after Sunday's game. "I like his aggressiveness. He fights hard."

10 of Wesley's points came in the first 13 minutes of the game. He was then shut out for 25 minutes, until the 1:35 mark of the second half.

Wesley attributed that to a zone-defense look he saw for much of the game's second period and couldn't quite figure out.

"They did a better job on him in the second half," O'Neill said. "They were more aware of him."

As he has often said this year, O'Neill said Wesley "has a chance" to be a "real, real big-time player" over the next three years.

Stat of the game: USC was out-rebounded 45-19 by Stanford, and the Cardinal grabbed 13 offensive rebounds off of 27 of their own missed shots. By contrast, the Trojans grabbed just one of the rebounds from their 33 missed shots.

The numbers are rare, and they are damning. Stanford started three players measuring in at 6-8 or higher; USC has only one available player taller than 6-6.

Quote of the game: "I think we have a chance going into any game." -- O'Neill

The Trojans' coach was asked about the feasibility of his team winning any one of its five remaining regular-season games, at UCLA on Wednesday, at the Arizona schools next week and at home against the Washington schools the week after that.

Predictably, he brought up one of his favorite lines, about how anybody wearing "short pants" can beat anybody else at basketball. It sounds nice, but it's going to be tough for USC to win any of those games -- with the Arizona State visit being the only real winnable one.

Final notes: Stanford forward Andy Brown, a product of Santa Ana Mater Dei, made his first career field goal in the first half of Sunday's game. Brown is a third-year player but tore his ACL three times over the last four years and never suited up for a college game before last month...Only two USC players made field goals in the first half of the contest, Wesley and Allen. And only five Trojans made anything from the field all game, actually: those two, plus Jones, guard Alexis Moore and forward Garrett Jackson...USC head football coach Lane Kiffin and family watched the first half from Galen Center courtside seats.

Basketball: Cal 75, USC 49

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
11:54
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- For most of one half of Thursday night's game against Cal, lowly USC looked like it could actually compete against the class of the Pac-12 conference.

Buoyed by superb play from sophomore point guard Maurice Jones, the Trojans actually led, 23-19, with eight minutes to go in the first half. Then the Bears went on a 16-6 run to finish off the period, and USC was soon run out of its own building. Cal ended up outscoring the Trojans 40-20 in the second half and wound up with a 75-49 victory.

"I thought we played a pretty good first half," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said afterward. "But we have to do a better job of putting together two good halves of basketball."

USC (6-19, 1-11) has rarely done that this season, winning only two games since November and putting together only three consistent games in that span -- the two victories against Utah and TCU and a close loss at Washington State earlier this month.

"It just feels like a re-run," said Jones, who led the Trojans with 17 points in 29 minutes.

Cal was led by Allen Crabbe, who had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Senior forward Harper Kamp added 18 points.

Byron Wesley had 11 points for the Trojans for his third straight double-digit point game.

Player of the game: Jones had a great game, scoring his 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and turning the ball over just once. And his numbers would likely have been better had he not missed a significant stretch of the second half because of a cut on his left hand that bled.

Plus-minuses aren't kept for NCAA games, but Jones' was clearly the best on the team. Cal took advantage every time he was out of the game, including for three-plus minutes in the first half when he picked up two fouls.

"When Mo's not in there, we don't function very well," O'Neill said. "Not that we function at a high level when he is in there. But when he's not in there, it's difficult for us.

"We're asking too much of Mo."

Said Jones of his teammates' struggles when he was out of the game: "You can't blame them. They're all new to this."

Stat of the game: USC was out-rebounded 41-28 by the Bears, and Cal got a third of the available boards when on the offensive end.

O'Neill said Cal's big men were overwhelming in that department, with USC's James Blasczyk and Garrett Jackson combining for only 12 rebounds. The Bears' David Kravish, on the other hand, had 18 on his own.

"No matter what size you have, if you don't gang rebound, you're not going to rebound well," O'Neill said. "The bottom line is, those guys are more experienced and they're better and us on the front line.

"And it showed tonight. It really did."

Quote of the game: "There was a level of frustration a long time ago." -- Jones

The 5-7 guard was asked after Thursday's game if he sensed a certain level of frustration creeping into the team's mentality following another blowout loss at the hands of a conference opponent.

His answer was quick, sharp and delivered without a hint of a smile, although it elicited laughs in those he was speaking to.

Final notes: USC's two starting forwards, Jackson and Wesley, combined to shoot 7-of-31 from the field, good for a 23-percent mark...Crabbe, a product of L.A. Price High, had a contingent of two dozen or so family members in attendance at the Galen Center (announced crowd: 3,707), who cheered wildly for every one of his eight made shots...O'Neill told the Trojans not to come into the arena at any cost on Friday, giving the players a full, no-strings-attached day off Friday before prepping for Sunday's game against Stanford on Saturday.

For Jackson, a chance to show what he can do

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
2:43
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- As far back as he can recall, USC forward Garrett Jackson has never lost more games than he's won in a single season.

Not at any level, and not at any sport, either -- and he played four growing up.

But that much is a virtual guarantee for Jackson and the USC Trojans this year. With seven games left in the 2011-2012 regular season, USC (6-18, 1-10 in the Pac-12) would essentially have to win out, take home the Pac-12 conference tournament championship and make a run to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 to even finish with as many wins as losses.

Suffice it to say, it's not happening to a team with just two wins since November and six scholarship players suiting up most nights.

(Read full post)

Basketball: 2011-2012 season preview

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
7:21
PM PT
Let’s get this out of the way, first off: 22-year-old USC forward Dewayne Dedmon is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Not necessarily better than anything you’ve ever seen, just different – significantly different.

He’s 7 feet tall, having grown four full inches between ages 18 and 21. He’s 255 pounds, having also gained upwards of 50 pounds in that same span.

And now for the weird but true, in progressive order: He’s the second-fastest player on the USC basketball team, coming in behind only 5-6 point guard Maurice Jones. He can play point guard in a pinch, Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill says. And, maybe the craziest statistic of them all: Counting exhibitions and summer league games and everything with an official and a game clock, he’s played in fewer than 100 organized basketball games in his life.

Truthfully, the last four years of Dedmon’s life – basketball-wise, at least -- have had to take the place of most kids’ entire adolescence, and probably more. He didn’t start playing organized basketball until he was 18 years old, and, even then, he didn’t play much at all until his second year of junior college.

And even then, he broke a bone in his forehead two months into the season and sat out a month. Now, 11 months since he arrived at USC, he’s finally almost fully healthy, having broken a bone in his shooting hand a less than a week into practice this October. He had to wear a gigantic makeshift cast on his right hand to be able to take part in practices until Tuesday of this week, when he had the thing removed once and for all.

He’s not pain-free, but he’s cast-free, and that’s a big step.

“This is how I explain him: He’s 7-foot and he runs like a deer,” says Jio Fontan, the USC basketball team’s captain, likely out for the 2011-2012 season with a torn ACL. “I tell people all the time, if you saw him in jogging pants just walking into the gym and asked him to shoot a jump shot, he’s gonna show you he’s a little different.

“He shoots the ball like a guard, plain and simple. But give him time. Understand that not only has he not played that many years of basketball, but he’s also just coming off sitting a whole year out.

“He’s gonna be special. It’s just gonna take time.”

The thing is, USC doesn’t have any time. Dedmon’s first major college game is Friday at 8 p.m. against Cal State Northridge, the Trojans’ 2011-12 season opener. It’ll be his first real game since February 2010. And O’Neill needs him to be the team’s No. 2 scorer and No. 1 rebounder in order the Trojans to have any real chance of getting back to the NCAA tournament this season.

It’s unlikely, but that’s what everyone said last year at this same time. And USC ended up finishing with 19 wins and sneaking into the First Four of the tourney.

Then the Trojans lost top scorer Nikola Vucevic to the NBA draft, starters Alex Stepheson, Marcus Simmons and Donte Smith to graduation and Fontan to injury. The question now is whether O’Neill can manage his new, similarly patchwork squad to similar heights.

Let’s break it down, splitting it up by backcourt and frontcourt:

(Read full post)

Basketball: Fontan hurt, Trojans lose

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
9:49
PM PT
USC senior point guard Jio Fontan suffered a potentially serious left knee injury during the second quarter of the Trojans' eventual 81-70 loss to Mogi das Cruzes in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.

X-rays on the knee were negative, a team spokesperson said, but Fontan will undergo an MRI exam Wednesday. As of now, it's being called a sprain.

"I'm always worried about any injury," O'Neill said by phone from Sao Paulo late Tuesday. "But we won't know anything until tomorrow."

USC was up by six at the time Fontan went out of the game, but the Trojans quickly fell behind without their captain and senior leader. Forward Aaron Fuller also missed the game with an illness, so USC was forced to play walk-on Eric Strangis extensive minutes and work newcomers Greg Allen, Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley into the rotation.

O'Neill said they were in a "little over their heads."

Sophomore guard Maurice Jones led the team with 17 points and eight rebounds and center Dewayne Dedmon had his best game yet with 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Forward Garrett Jackson added 12 points and six rebounds and Fontan had eight points at the time of his injury.

"We actually played well, against another good team," O'Neill said. "Our guys did a great job."

USC will travel from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro Wednesday and then play its final game of the trip on Friday in Rio. The Trojans had planned on playing a game Wednesday or Thursday in one of the two cities, but those plans have been scrapped.

Basketball: Fontan nets 28 in Brazil loss

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
7:48
PM PT
Senior point guard Jio Fontan nearly led the Trojans to a comeback victory in their second game of a 10-day Brazil trip Monday, scoring 28 points as they fell 87-81 to Sao Jose dos Campos, a first-division Brazilian pro team.

Fontan got into early foul trouble in the second quarter as USC trailed by double-digits but came back to put up a barrage of points in the third and fourth periods, as the game was played by international rules. The margin got as close as four points late in the fourth.

The game was originally intended to be a scrimmage, which would've allowed newcomers Alexis Moore, Greg Allen and Byron Wesley to take part in their first official competitions as Trojans. But USC coach Kevin O'Neill and his staff made a decision earlier Monday to play an official game, which kept the trio out until at least Tuesday, when summer-school grades are posted by the school.

"If we wouldn't have played a bad second quarter, we would've won the game," O'Neill said by phone from Sao Paulo. "We just didn't have enough juice, playing a back-to-back and playing without Byron, Alexis, and Greg.

"The team we played today was very, very good."

Other top performers for the Trojans included guard Maurice Jones, who scored 20 points, and forward Garrett Jackson, who scored 11 points and added 10 rebounds for his second-straight double-digit day on the boards. 7-footers James Blasczyk and Dewayne Dedmon again had trouble adjusting to the international style of play, combining for just 13 points and 14 rebounds. Dedmon did add four blocks.

But Fontan, the 6-foot Fordham transfer who was the Trojans' second-leading scorer last season, was USC's most dominating player for the second straight game in Brazil. On Sunday, in the exhibition opener, he had 29 points in leading the team to a nine-point victory over a second-division pro team in Sao Paulo.

"He's really stepped his game up," O'Neill said of Fontan. "He's in much better shape. He's got a little experience now, and he's played very, very well.

"He's played like you want your captain to play."

USC now has games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Sao Paulo and then one more in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, O'Neill said.

Basketball: Trojans win Brazil opener

August, 14, 2011
8/14/11
11:26
PM PT
Senior point guard Jio Fontan scored 29 points to lead USC to a 60-51 win over Brazilian Division II outfit Pindamonhangaba in Sao Paulo Sunday, the Trojans' first of five scheduled games over a 10-day trip in Brazil this month.

With freshmen Byron Wesley and Alexis Moore and juco transfer Greg Allen not allowed to play until summer-school grades are posted Tuesday, the Trojans had just seven scholarship players available. Fontan scored 14 points in the second quarter to give USC a 31-25 lead at halftime, and transfer Aaron Fuller, playing in his first game for the Trojans, scored seven points in the fourth period to seal the game.

“We didn’t play particularly well, but I thought we played well defensively,” coach Kevin O’Neill said in a statement. “We played hard, but we have a lot of things to work on.”

The game, played in front of an estimated 425 fans at Pindamonhangaba's Centro Esportivo, used a 24-second shot clock and was split into four 10-minute periods.

Fontan's 29 points led all scorers. Fuller added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans and sophomore forward Garrett Jackson added eight points and 11 rebounds. Highly-touted center Dewayne Dedmon scored four points in limited minutes, accumulating four quick fouls.

USC has a scheduled scrimmage Monday against Sao Jose dos Campos, another team in the city of Sao Paulo. But the plan is to not keep score, which should allow the newcomers to suit up. The Trojans will then play an official exhibition on Tuesday against Division I team Mogi das Cruzes and travel on Wednesday to Rio de Janeiro.

Basketball: Brazil trip begins Friday

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
4:51
PM PT
Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill and his team practiced one last time Thursday before they jet off for a land far, far away on Friday, as they'll spend the next 10 days in Brazil and land back in Los Angeles Aug. 21.

Thursday's session was quick, lasting under an hour. But it served its primary purpose all the same: to cement O'Neill's vision of the starting lineup and bench roles. Here's what he has planned for the trip, where the Trojans will play four games against Brazilian professional teams and one scrimmage:

PG: Jio Fontan

SG: Mo Jones

SF: Evan Smith

PF: Aaron Fuller

C: Dewayne Dedmon

Off the bench: F Garrett Jackson, G Greg Allen, G Byron Wesley, G Alexis Moore, C James Blasczyk

O'Neill also plans to play walk-ons Eric Strangis, Tyler Sugiyama and Daniel Munoz, all guards. Transfer forwards Ari Stewart and Eric Wise are sitting out the 2011-2012 season and are thus not eligible for the trip, per NCAA rules.

Also making the trip with the Trojans is senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes.

In other basketball news, USC has hired a new director of basketball operations, Jamal Boddie, a 2009 graduate of the University of Arizona who worked as a manager for the Wildcats while O'Neill was the head coach. The previous director, Ryan Hennick, spent two seasons on the job before resigning in the offseason.

Basketball: End-of-year capsules, No. 4

March, 28, 2011
3/28/11
5:41
PM PT
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. We began with redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, redshirt sophomore Evan Smith and sophomore Curtis Washington, with the years in reference to what they will be come next season.

We fell behind some last week, so four, five and six will be coming your way Monday, starting with sophomore forward Garrett Jackson.

Jackson had an interesting year at USC as really the only player who played any sort of minutes without playing big minutes. He was the freshman who played a typical role for freshmen, as opposed to Maurice Jones' 34.5 minutes per game. There was also Bryce Jones, but he left the team in January when his minutes were reduced to Jackson's range after Jio Fontan became eligible.

So what did Jackson do well in 2010-2011?

He was a capable scorer, when given the chance. He was the best shooter on the team -- albeit in limited opportunities -- and showed a solid midrange and 3-point stroke. His rebounding was OK -- not where'd you like it to be a for a 6-7 power forward, which is what he most often played, but respectable. His defense needed a lot of work, though, and was the primary reason he didn't get more minutes than he did.

There were times where coach Kevin O'Neill would insert Jackson for one play and then immediately take him out after a mess-up on defense. When asked -- which he frequently was -- why Jackson wasn't getting more minutes, O'Neill would consistently say that he wasn't confident in Jackson's defensive abilities to trust him all situations.

So what Jackson needs to do over the summer is clear: get better defensively. The rest of his offseason focus depends on where the Trojans envision using him. Do they see him as a small forward or power forward in the future?

For next year's team, it makes a bit more sense to use Jackson as the small forward, likely interchanging him a bit with Fuller at power forward.

That's it for right now. Coming up shortly is sophomore guard Maurice Jones.

Basketball: End-of-year capsules, No. 3

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
10:45
PM PT
Over the next two weeks, 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. We began Monday with rising redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller and continued Tuesday with rising redshirt sophomore Evan Smith, calling the players by the years they will be next season.

Third up is rising sophomore Curtis Washington.

We knew coming into the season that Washington wasn't going to play much. That is to be expected when an 18-year-old first-year freshman says, just months before his first college game, what Washington said last summer after one of his first times playing with his new USC teammates at the Sanyo Classic in Hawthorne.

"I'm not that confident in my game yet," he told me then. "I just feel like I'm way behind."

But we didn't know he wasn't going to play hardly at all. The 6-10, 230-pounder, who is clearly athletic but also clearly inexperienced, played in only three games during the 2010-2011 season for a total of 11 minutes and did not record a point.

The three games he played in were USC's three biggest wins of the season, back-to-back November wins over New Mexico State and Cal State Fullerton and a January blowout victory over Stanford. His lone stats of record were one offensive rebound against NMSU and two fouls.

With so few minutes, there is some wonder to why Washington wasn't instead redshirted this season and allowed to develop while retaining his eligibility. Regardless, another offseason could do a lot for his development from this point forward, as he simply hasn't played a lot of high-level competitive basketball.

Every little bit helps, although he won't be needed all that much if Nikola Vucevic does return. A redshirt year in 2011-2012 is also a possibility.

That's it for today. Tomorrow is rising sophomore forward Garrett Jackson.

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