USC: Kyle Austin

The Nike Sayno Classic was a learning experience for USC signee DeWayne Dedmon -- and, truthfully, for the entire roster of future Trojan players.

Six Trojans -- the center Dedmon, guards Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones and forwards Curtis Washington, Garrett Jackson and Aaron Fuller -- played spurts in the eight-game league over the last month with varying levels of success.

Each player showed potential for success; each player showed potential for failure at the Division-I level. But Dedmon, who won't play for USC until the 2011 season and won't even enroll until January, was probably the most polarizing figure.

One game he'd be great, with 14 points and nine rebounds in just 24 minutes. Another game he'd be awful, posting a four-point, four-rebound and five-foul performance in 25 minutes. Others would be more in between, like eight and seven in 24 or 10 and five in 19, but Dedmon would often fluctuate between the good, the mediocre and the bad.

His penchant for committing ticky-tack fouls was plain to see on almost any occasion -- as was even-plainer-to-see sheer leaping ability. Many of the 7-foot giant's points came on rebounds, putbacks and alley-oops from the Joneses and Jackson.

And, likewise, many of his fouls came while guarding players who appeared to lose three or four inches of height to him. And, accordingly, Dedmon's trials and tribulations in the summer league paralleled those of the rest of his squad.

Washington was so raw he himself wasn't confident in his game. Fuller displayed little-to-no ability to create his own shot while Bryce Jones' shots simply didn't fall. Mo Jones had a balky knee and Jackson couldn't control himself on the court at times -- let alone the defense.

Thus, the six Trojans -- playing as Salvatori's Squad, often with a few other local players like former USC and UC Riverside guard Kyle Austin -- won only two of their eight contests. But Dedmon sees reason for optimism in the improvement the players made over the course of the summer.

He sees it in himself: "I'm more aggressive with the ball, trying to get to the rim and score, grab rebounds," Dedmon said last week after a Sayno game. "All that -- trying to elevate my game. It's another level of competition, so I see myself getting better."

And he sees it in his teammates.

"Everybody's been improving," Dedmon said. "Everybody's been getting better.

"I think the future at SC is gonna be real good."

As a quick note, the NCAA-sanctioned Sayno Classic had planned for five weeks of basketball with two games a week. But, just a few days ago, the schedule was changed into a four-week slate with a playoff week planned for this weekend, and now Salvatori's Squad is out of commission for the rest of the summer after not qualifying for the playoffs.

All six of the Trojans are now, under NCAA rules, banned from even scrimmaging with each other with the USC coaching staff until practice officially begins in mid-October. Guard Jio Fontan, who transferred from Fordham in January, also competed in one Sayno game for another team, as did forward Evan Smith, the only USC returnee to compete in the summer league.

Fontan and Smith will be a part of the 2010 Trojans, as will all of the signees save for Dedmon. And, speaking of Dedmon, here's a full video interview with the junior college product taken after one of the Sayno games last weekend:

Basketball signees team up for win

June, 19, 2010
HAWTHORNE — It'll be another year until they play together for USC, but basketball signees Aaron Fuller, Bryce Jones and DeWayne Dedmon — under the moniker of Salvatori's Squad — teamed up Saturday afternoon for the Nike Sayno Classic at the Hangar Athletic Xchange for a dominating win over a team featuring a number of Hawaii recruits.

It was the first time the trio had suited up for the same team, and it showed. Particularly in the early-going, the three Trojans' signees were largely outshined on their own team by UC Riverside guard/forward Kyle Austin, who spent a season at USC before transferring. But each USC player managed to put their own skillsets on display as the game went on.

Fuller, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward who decided to transfer from Iowa last month, frequently used his bruising style of play to post up Team Aloha defenders. He also showed a smooth stroke from within 18 or so feet in warmups.

Jones — who couldn't get his shot to fall consistently — was perhaps the fastest non-point guard on the court, often serving as a distributor to Austin from the perimeter. And the ever-raw Dedmon ran the court with alacrity and battled for rebounds, although his 7-foot, 225-pound frame was outfought on more than one occasion.

With the game moving at a frenetic, playground-style pace, Austin dominated both the game and the ball, leaving few shots for Fuller and even fewer for Dedmon. But the 6-foot-5, 175-pound Jones found open looks at the hoop multiple times, only to come up empty on most of his tries.

Jones' athleticism — and development over the next few months — will be key for the 2010 squad. In March, he said he planned to feverishly work out over the summer in order to enter into college with a more Division-I-type body. He seems to have started on that process, although he is still able to be pushed around on the boards.

Fuller's frame reminds some of Elton Brand — the 76ers forward listed at 6-foot-9, 254 pounds but widely believed to be closer to the 6-foot-7 mark — and he uses it well, boxing out efficiently on most plays. He notably recorded 7.6 rebounds per game in Big Ten conference play a season ago.

Dedmon looked particularly slender. Even as the tallest man on the court, he was far from the most intimidating defensively. He did amass an early block but was silent on the defensive end later on.

After the game, Jones talked about his performance and his excitement in playing alongside his future USC teammates for the first time.

Of course, Jones is the only member of the triumvirate who will suit up for the Trojans this season, as both Fuller and Dedmon will sit out the 2010-2011 season as transfers. But that doesn't mean the chemistry can't start to develop now.

"I think as time goes on we'll play more together," Jones said. "We'll start learning each other better — learning where we can score from, what we can do, and it'll be pretty good."

Here's the full video with Jones:



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J. Allen27614895.411
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J. Smith5472413.45