When the Trojans lost Jio Fontan last summer to a torn ACL, head coach Kevin O’Neill called the Trojans a ‘rudderless ship’ and a season plagued by injuries promptly ensued, not to mention the worst season in program history.
This year, Fontan returns to a Trojans’ team that is far more talented, despite the transfer of multiple players, including Maurice Jones’s departure to Iowa State.
Wake Forest imports Ari Stewart and J.T. Terrell enter the fray with ACC experience, while Renaldo Woolridge comes in from Tennessee for his senior season. The transfers, in addition to players lost to injury last season such as Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon, give the Trojans plenty of weapons for Fontan at point guard.
Today at Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco, Fontan spoke to the media about his injury and was confident in his recovery and health, with a plan to return to his 2011 form and then some.
I’m going to try to play a little harder than usual. I think that the work I put in with my trainers and my strength coach put me in a position where I’m a lot more comfortable, not only with my knee but with my body and how I take care of myself. So I don’t want to hold back at all. I want to go out there and play as hard as I can.
With a healthy Fontan at the helm of the offense, the Trojans have a chance to compete in the conference and quickly out perform their record from last season. Fontan was a man possessed last summer in Brazil before the injury, scoring 57 points in a two-game stretch and whetting the appetite of Coach O’Neill.
If he can regain that form via the effort he plans to exert, the Trojans just might have something going on the hardwood.
The Trojans begin their 2012-2013 season next Friday night at Galen Center against Coppin State.