After USC won the transfer recruiting battle with former Tennessee Volunteer Renaldo Woolridge, it’s only fitting to look ahead to November, and envision Kevin O’Neill’s depth chart for the Trojans’ season opener.
Point Guard: Jio Fontan
Fontan returns after blowing out his knee with the Trojans while on tour in Brazil last summer. After transferring in from Fordham, he proved to be one of USC’s best players in 2010-11, as a perfect perimeter option opposite of Nikola Vucevic. How well will he cope following the injury? We’ll have to find out, but nonetheless, he’ll be the heart of the Trojans, and the team’s catalyst, or as Kevin O’Neill called him last year, the team’s “rudder”.
Shooting Guard: J.T. Terrell
We profiled Terrell recently, and pointed out his ability to score at the two. He left Wake Forest following legal trouble, but appears to have his life and his game back in order, as he was an All-League player at the junior college level as a sophomore this past fall. With Fontan at the point, and Terrell manning the two, the Trojans shouldn’t have trouble scoring like they did in Fontan’s absence.
Small Forward: Ari Stewart
Stewart is another Wake Forest import, and is an athletic small forward who could be labeled as a defensive minded player, even after he averaged 8.5 points per game in the ACC, while playing just 24 minutes for the Demon Deacons in 2010-11. According to Pedro Moura, he has the potential to guard the power forward position, something the Trojans weren’t able to do this past year, as they were exploited by players like Washington State’s Brock Motum, especially on the glass.
Power Forward: Renaldo Woolridge
As we said Saturday, Woolridge is a talented player who has shown glimpses of offensive prowess, but just hasn’t put it together for a prolonged period. He’ll have more talent around him at USC, considering that Fontan and Terrell are play-making guards who should draw offenders and open up the paint for the Trojans.
Center: Dewayne Dedmon
Dedmon had a rough year in his first year at USC, but only because he was inconsistent and still learning to adapting his game to the NCAA level. He’s a talented player with the capability of owning the paint, and if he can put it together to be a solid inside presence for the Trojans, they’ll be able to get into the Tournament and do damage, but there’s a few “ifs” preceding that logic.
Guards: Maurice Jones, Byron Wesley, Brendyn Taylor
Mo Jones led the Trojans in scoring in 2012, but he’ll be relegated to the reserve level with the return of Fontan and the inclusion of Terrell. But, that’s probably a good thing, since he, Byron Wesley and the Penn-bound Alexis Moore were overused due to a lack of depth. Jones was a potent player early on, when Aaron Fuller and Dedmon were still healthy, as he slashed to the hoop and created plays for the Trojans. After injuries really struck SC and James Blasczyk was forced to carry the load at center, teams zoned in on Jones and he withered and wore down as most players would. He’ll be a valuable sixth man for the Trojans, as will Wesley, who had a fine freshman year despite playing more than expected.
Forwards: Aaron Fuller, James Blasczyk, Eric Wise, Strahinja Gavrilovic
In all fairness to Blasczyk, he was in over his head last season due to the injuries to Fuller and Dedmon. He’s not a starter, and just doesn’t have that skill set, which is why he struggled. But he’ll be a decent fill-in for Dedmon off the bench to spell him for breathers and when DD gets in foul trouble. Likewise, Fuller will be a solid forward who will spell Woolridge and Stewart plenty. He had a solid first year at USC, but he’ll get better as he gets healthy. Also, you can expect Eric Wise to contribute some minutes and spell the guys in front of him, as an alternative to Blasczyk and Fuller, and more likely between them in Kevin O’Neill’s rotation.