Jio Fontan will be key if USC wants to bounce back from 26-loss season

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Los Angeles has teams with two very different outlooks coming into the 2012-13 season.

On one hand, UCLA is looking for a Pac-12 title with blue-chip prospects Kyle Anderson and the yet-to-be-cleared Shabazz Muhammad.

On the other is USC, coming off a 6-26 season under coach Kevin O’Neill, which included a 1-17 mark in the conference. The Trojans played with six scholarship players after widespread injuries, a bug that hit Dewayne Dedmon, Aaron Fuller, and Jio Fontan.

But now USC is looking to fight back, back from setting a school record losses in a season and finishing 343rd in the country by putting up 53 points per game.

Much of that fighting back will start with Fontan, the former Fordham guard who has sat out the majority of the past two seasons because of transfer rules and a torn ACL.

“We’re just flipping the page, starting a new chapter and trying to take advantage of this,” Fontan told the Associated Press. “We’ve got a lot of guys who only have one year left and we all have the same goal – win big.”

Academic reasons were going to keep returning leading scorer Maurice Jones out of the 2012-13, but he has chosen to transfer to Iowa State.

That leaves J.T. Terrell and Byron Wesley to join Fontan in the backcourt, along with the return of Fuller and Dedmon in the frontcourt.

“We’re here to prove that we’re better than a six-win team, so we’re just going to come out with a lot of intensity,” Dedmon said. “It’s definitely important to have Jio back as a leader on and off the court because he’s a big-time player.”

The Trojans open their season on Nov. 9 against Coppin State.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

AP Photo/Sean Rayford
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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is dunking again

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Just what you wanted to see, a video of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine throwing an alley-oop off the glass to current Michigan State star Miles Bridges in a Pro-Am in Michigan:

VIDEO: Kentucky’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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A day after Grayson Allen threw an alley-oop to Trevon Duval for Duke’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge, Kentucky’s team of freshmen decided to do one of their own:

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/889947577734574085

That would be, in order, Johnny David, Jarrod Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, PJ Washington and Kevin Knox abusing some poor sap’s rim somewhere in Lexington.

But was that better than John Calipari’s attempt?