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.