Ari Stewart joined his former teammate J.T. Terrell in Southern California, but suffered from the vaunted Kevin O’Neill dog-house, taking away any real chance at minutes. The former top 50 recruit sat out the 2011-2012 season as a redshirt, but was a relative afterthought on the bench this season. The lanky 6-foot-7 junior finished the season averaging 10 minutes per night.
What Stood Out:
The largest thing that stood was the fact that he only averaged 10 minutes per night, as the underdeveloped small forward option off the bench.
Stewart was playing his best basketball before his wrist injury on February 24th, averaging 13 minutes per night while notching playing time in pivotal second-half moments.
The competition of Pac-12 play actually brought the best out of the athletic junior, who averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest.
Stewart worked his way into the rotation once Cantu took over as interim head coach on Jan. 14, scoring 31 points in his last seven games played, after scoring a total of 26 points in USC’s first 17 games. The best game Stewart played was against the athletic San Diego State Aztecs, posting nine points in 20 minutes of action.
What Needed Work:
In the spare moments that Ari Stewart entered the game, he showcased flashes of brilliance and dumbfounded moments of immaturity. Stewart had the flexibility to play the two or the three, but could not avoid the troubling reality of breaking his thumb early in February, derailing any real playing time for the rest of the season.
In terms of an offensive game, Stewart camped behind the three-point line for a majority of his shots but struggled to find success. Stewart only shot 23-percent from downtown, resorting to role of swing player in the offense. This following a tremendous freshmen season at Wake Forest in which Stewart averaged 7.3 points by leading all ACC freshmen in three-point shooting with a 37.1 shooting percentage.
Luckily for Trojan fans, Ari Stewart will return for his senior season under new head coach Andy Enfield. Stewart is an athletic stretch forward that possess some flexibility off the bench, something that should thrive in the Be7ieve, seven seconds or less offense.
Stewart needs to spend time working on his three-point shot, developing into a wing forward that can find a unique niche on the defensive end with a strong outside shot for the Trojans.
Grading: How would you assess Stewart’s performance? Grade him in our poll and leave your thoughts below in the comments.