LOS ANGELES–USC senior starting point guard Jio Fontan, who led last year’s NCAA tournament-bound Trojans in assists and was second in scoring, will have season-ending surgery after tearing a ligament in his left knee on August 16th in a game during USC’s Brazilian exhibition tour, head coach Kevin O’Neill said August 18th.
The injury occurred in the first half of USC’s 81-70 loss against the Mogi das Cruzes pro team. Fontan, who scored 57 points in USC’s first two games on the trip, took a hit going to the basket and landed awkwardly with the Trojans up 30-28 with 4:24 to go in the half.
“I couldn’t feel worse for any player I’ve coached in my career,” O’Neill said, in his third year at USC. “Jio is the heart and soul of our team and had become a high-level player. His loss is a huge blow to our team. Our best thoughts go out to Jio and his family during his recovery.
“However, our team is determined to move forward and do what we’ve done the past two years, which is fight like Trojans and have a great season. We as a team are undaunted by this loss and we will play great basketball for our fans”
The 6-0 Fontan averaged 10.5 points and had 94 assists while starting 24 times last season after sitting out the first semester due to transfer rules. He scored in double figures 12 times, including 21 points twice, and had eight points or more 19 times. He had 14 games of four assists or more, including the last five. He averaged 4.6 assists over the last 10 games.
Fontan, a product of famed St. Anthony’s High in Jersey City, N.J., transferred to USC early in his 2010 sophomore season at Fordham, where he had earned 2009 Atlantic-10 All-Rookie honors as a freshman.
O’Neill said that at this point he expected first-year freshman guard Alexis Moore to take over Jio’s spot in the lineup
“I know Alexis will do a very good job,” O’Neill said. “He’s a very talented player.”
The 6-2 Moore averaged 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a senior at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High. He helped lead the Jackrabbits to a 31-2 record with a No. 13 final national ranking in 2011, the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA championship and a California state quarterfinals appearance.