Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, USC received the news that guard Jio Fontan would miss the entire season with an injury. The loss of their leading scorer from the year before was a huge blow to a Trojans’ squad that struggled mightily on the court.
USC finished the season ranked 343rd in the nation in points per game (52.6), collecting a 6-26 record overall. The Trojans were just 1-17 within the Pac 12.
Fontan is back this season for head coach Kevin O’Neill this season, but USC will now be without their leading scorer from a season ago. Maurice Jones, who averaged 13.0 points per game last season as a sophomore, was deemed academically ineligible for the 2012-13 season.
A mix of eligible and impactful transfers should make the Trojans an improved threat within the conference this season, especially with the return of Fontan. However, the loss of Jones will undoubtedly hurt.
Jones averaged a team-high 38.2 minutes per game last season, making the 5-foot-7 guard a valuable on-the-court asset for O’Neill.
USC announced on Saturday night that Jones was dismissed from the school due to academic issues, but can reapply for admission after the fall semester. According to ESPN‘s Andy Katz, O’Neill did say however, that Jones will return to USC at some point for his final two seasons of eligibility, yet he needs to qualify academically.
The loss of Jones is just the latest subtraction from O’Neill’s first two recruiting classes at USC. All five players that signed with the Trojans in that two year span have since gone elsewhere.
Fontan and Wake Forest transfer J.T. Terrell are expected to assume their roles in the back court, but Jones would have certainly provided depth and experience for the Trojans.
The news of Jones’ departure follows the recent news of allegations concerning inappropriate gifts within the men’s basketball program dating back during the 2007-08 season.
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