USC: Greg Allen

Basketball: Stanford 59, USC 47

February, 12, 2012
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: 2011-2012 season preview

November, 10, 2011
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: Walk-on Dragovic joins squad

August, 23, 2011
Serbian native Danilo Dragovic has enrolled at USC this week and will join the Trojans in October when they begin practicing for the upcoming 2011-2012 season, the school announced Tuesday.

Dragovic, the younger brother of former UCLA forward Nikola Dragovic, is a 6-5 shooting guard who didn't play any basketball at the varsity level in high school. He spent his junior year at San Marcos in Santa Barbara and then transferred to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year but wasn't permitted to play at the highest level at either location.

Still, he's believed to be a potential rotation player for the Trojans at some point over the next few years, including as soon as this upcoming season. He could also earn a scholarship later on in his college career.

While the addition can help the Trojans in the absence of Jio Fontan, who tore his ACL last week in Brazil, Dragovic had been scheduled to come to USC well before Fontan's injury. It appears he's now slated to be the fifth guard in the rotation behind starters Alexis Moore and Maurice Jones and reserves Byron Wesley and Greg Allen.

USC has nine scholarship players available for the 2011-2012 season.

Basketball: Fontan hurt, Trojans lose

August, 16, 2011
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
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: Brazil trip begins Friday

August, 11, 2011
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: Trojans begin Brazil prep

July, 29, 2011

So it's not Midnight Madness, or even October.

But USC's taking advantage of a special allotment of 10 NCAA-allowed practices leading up to a trip to Brazil next month, beginning with an intense 2.5-hour session Thursday on the upstairs courts at the Galen Center.

Why the upstairs?

The band Blink-182 has the main arena court occupied for the next few days while it prepares for a nationwide tour beginning next week.

As for the basketball being played, the Trojans were sharp -- or about as sharp as you could expect three months prior to the 2011-2012 season opener. Newcomers Alexis Moore, Byron Wesley, Greg Allen and James Blasczyk weren't asked to do too much, only to give full efforts, Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill reminded them constantly.

And they did so. Moore, a 6-2 guard from Long Beach Poly, looked particularly well-rounded for a 17-year-old, displaying a smooth-to-20-feet jump shot, a solid handle and on-the-ball smarts. Blasczyk, the backup to fellow 7-foot phenom Dewayne Dedmon, ran the court with energy and rebounded well.

"It's been good, just getting to see them early on and getting them a chance to play," guard Jio Fontan said Thursday of the special practices. "For the freshmen, it's big. They get to play a little earlier than the rest of the freshmen around the country, so that'll help them out a lot."

All four newcomers plus six returners will make the trip to Brazil from Aug. 12-21. Incoming transfers Ari Stewart (Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine) will not be able to join them and cannot participate in the 10 special practices. Both players sat on the sidelines and watched the entire session, Stewart taking a ball onto the court and shooting on his own during a few water breaks.

USC will play at least three games in Brazil, against NBB squads Bauru, Paulistano and Flamengo. The Trojans are also attempting to schedule a scrimmage against the Brazilian national team for the in-between time. But O'Neill expects his team to lose most, if not all, of the games in South America. His 17-to-22-year-old players will be going head-to-head with players well into their 20's and 30's.

It's these times here in L.A. he's savoring.

"The practices are the most important part, and then we're going to get to play against some pro competition down there, which should be a very humbling experience for our team," O'Neill said Thursday. "If we lose every game we have in Brazil, I'll be cool with it, as long as we play hard and play our best."

The longest-tenured player on the USC team is now redshirt sophomore forward Evan Smith, the only member of the 2009 recruiting class who didn't ask for his release when Tim Floyd resigned that summer. But he's only played in seven games as a Trojan and scored 13 total points. Sophomore Maurice Jones leads the team in games played in a USC uniform with 34, one season's worth.

"This is the first time, since I've been here, that all the guys on the team are K.O.'s recruits," said Fontan, a Fordham transfer who arrived in December 2009, midway through O'Neill's first season on the job. "It's the beginning of a new era."

And, like little else in college basketball, it begins in July.

Basketball: Transfers all on campus

July, 4, 2011
With the arrival of former Wake Forest forward Ari Stewart over the weekend, all three of USC's transfers in the class of 2011 are now on campus and officially in the program.

Stewart joined former UC Irvine forward Eric Wise and ex-Texas jucos Greg Allen and James Blasczyk as transfers, although both Allen and Blasczyk will be eligible to compete this season and Wise and Stewart won't be eligible until 2012-2013.

A 6-7, 205-pound forward, Stewart averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds for the Demon Deacons a year ago. Wise, an undersized 6-5, 230-pound power forward, was Irvine's leading scorer and rebounder as a junior -- putting up averages of 16.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Allen averaged roughly 12 points per game and shot 38 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line last season at Navarro College. Blasczyk, a 7-1 center, didn't play basketball at Lee College last season after playing sparingly his freshman year at Texas A&M and then redshirting his sophomore season.

USC will have 11 scholarship players available next season, with Wise and Stewart then available the next year: guards Jio Fontan, Maurice Jones, Alexis Moore, Byron Wesley and Allen, forwards Garrett Jackson, Curtis Washington, Aaron Fuller and Evan Smith and centers DeWayne Dedmon and Blasczyk.

Only Fontan will be a senior of that group, and he'll have the ability to petition the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility if he so desires.

Basketball: USC adds to 2011 recruit class

April, 13, 2011
USC added an experienced shooter to its now four-strong 2011 recruiting class Wednesday in junior-college transfer Greg Allen, coach Kevin O'Neill announced.

Allen, a Northern California native who played at Navarro College in Texas, had committed to the Trojans in January but sent in his signed letter of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the late signing period for college basketball.

“We are excited to have Greg join our program,” O’Neill said in a statement. “He has the ability to shoot the ball and defend the opposition’s best player which will be important and allow him to make an immediate impact on our program. He’s a great kid with an amazing work ethic and we are excited about him becoming a Trojan."

Allen averaged 11 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game for Navarro in 2010-2011, helping his team to the quarterfinals of a regional junior college tournament. At 6 feet 3, he made nearly 40 percent of his 3-point attempts last season.

At Eureka High, Allen averaged 25.1 points as a senior and was a three-time Humboldt-Del Norte MVP.

The three other members of USC's 2011 recruiting class are point guard Alexis Moore (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) and guard/forward Byron Wesley (Fontana, Calif./Etiwanda) and juco center James Blasczyk (Baytown, Tex./Lee College). Transfers Aaron Fuller and DeWayne Dedmon will also join the team after practicing with the Trojans last season.

USC still has multiple available scholarships and could sign one or two more players in the late signing period. One thing to keep an eye on, though, is that the only senior the Trojans will have on their 2011-2012 roster is Jio Fontan, who could receive another year of eligibility via an NCAA appeal if he chooses to do so.

That means the scholarship situation could get sticky come this time next year if USC signs anyone else.



C. Kessler100718468
J. Allen603185.31
J. Davis26602.31
N. Agholor232129.23
J. Smith1117015.50