The USC Trojans will see some major turnover in their roster, most significantly that of their floor general and most experience player, point guard Jio Fontan. The typical face of Fontan will be severely missed at the point, finishing his final game as a member of the USC Trojans. Fontan finished the season with the second-most assists in the Pac-12, averaging 5.3 assist per game. Fontan made game-winning shots against Stanford, Dayton and UCLA, giving the Trojans a much needed finisher down the stretch.
Not only was Fontan a great scorer but he held control over this team, after playing two seasons and spending three total years at the helm in Southern California. Fontan had his best scoring year in 2010 as the starting point guard for the last squad to make the NCAA Tournament. The next class of point guards is led by Chass Bryan with a strong recruiting class on the way, looking to make their mark.
Leading Candidate: Chass Bryan 5’9″ 165 Freshmen 1.8 PPG 0.8 RPG 1.3 APG
Chass Bryan played 31 games for the Trojans coming off the bench in the point guard position. Bryan is an electric player that moves with the basketball in a rather dysfunctional fashion, keeping fans on the edge of their seats every time he touches the ball. The walk-on is a half-scholarship winner for his academic prowess that will develop his basketball game as he continues to learn the college game.
Although Bryan was known more as the backup, he and Jio Fontan played together on the same line during the middle of the season. This combination gave the Trojans a nice mix of shooting and penetration as Bryan took over the reigns on offense. This can best be attributed to his 10-point game in 24 minutes against Stanford. Bryan ended the season with four games of at least four assists, as the scrappy backup for the Trojans.
The biggest weakness in Bryan’s game is decision-making when pressure arrives, a facet that pays the most dividends late in the game. Bryan did have trouble staying on the court this season because of his reaching defense but he did show a great first step on the offensive end. For USC to build confidence in their freshmen floor general, Bryan must look to improve his vision but continue to play with that strong motor.
Help On the Way: Julian Jacobs Class of 2013 6’3″ 175 16.2 PPG 6.9 RPG 5.5 APG (Desert Pines High School)
Julian Jacobs is a three-star recruit that has officially declared in the Class of 2013 for the USC Trojans. Jacobs will be the top recruit for the Trojans, as a three-star talent from Las Vegas choosing USC over St. Mary’s, Santa Clara and Utah.
Jacobs is a freak athlete with long arms and an explosive first step who is very raw in terms of point guard fundamentals. The Las Vegas guard plays true to his hometown; full of potential but very sporadic with the basketball. This explosiveness could also be his biggest strength, as Jacobs possess excellent vision combined with a strong first step.
The Trojans will definitely love Jacobs frame on the defensive end of the floor, as the 6’3″ guard possesses quick hands, strong lateral defense and a strong sense of how to handle rotation defense. Based on ESPN Scouting, Jacobs seems rough around the edges in terms of leadership but has great potential to develop thanks to his gaudy athleticism.
Game Changer: Kendall Yancy-Harris Class of 2013 6’4″ 195
Yancy-Harris is the 23rd ranked point guard in the class of 2013, who initially committed to USC last summer as the Trojans’ best recruit. The issue for the Trojan faithful is that Yancy-Harris continues to explore his options as he was granted the ability to shop around for other institutions during late February.
Yancy-Harris, a combo guard who can score the basket as an explosive athlete, can attack the basket with his size and quickness. This man has a strong family pedigree as his brother Terell, played for Oklahoma State and is now in the D-League with Miami. That being said, the young guard has the capabilities to put a team on his back late, carrying the offense with his scoring and driving ability.
If the Trojans were to acquire Yancy-Harris services’ the Trojans would have the perfect compliment guard alongside the likes of JT Terrell and Chass Bryan to drive and kick, or finish at the whole himself. Trojan fans should definitely keep an eye on Yancy-Harris, as he continues to explore his options with USC being near the top of the list.
Ace in the Hole: JT Terrell 6’3″ 185 Junior 11.7 PPG 2.1 RPG 0.8 APG
JT Terrell became the shot-taker and playmaker for the USC Trojans during certain stretches of the game. Terrell will be the starting shooting guard moving forward and is one of the teams best scoring options. He supplies that innate ability to make you miss on defense with a deep shooting range; one that rivals Jimmer Fredette.
Terrell has never been known for his passing ability, but he does possess skills with the basketball. He can weave the ball with dribbles between the leg, behind the back and even a fancy step back jump shot. These type of moves can save possessions, something that Terrell has performed numerous times this season. Obviously this offense would not work long-term, but having the ace in the whole in JT Terrell to finish games could play suit for the more up-tempo offense that thrived in the second half of this season.
The Trojans have much to build on this offseason, and the direction that this program continues to take–with or without Bob Cantu at the helm–will surely play a large factor in how these players develop.