With Jio Fontan scheduled to make his season debut against Kansas Saturday, the overwhelming consensus is that the Fordham transfer will immediately become USC's best offensive threat, as well as its best overall player.
"He's going to lift our team up a couple more levels, just by his presence, his ability, his leadership," USC head coach Kevin O'Neill told Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times.
O'Neill has said earlier this week that if Fontan had been eligible when the season began in mid-November, the Trojans would be either 9-1 or 8-2 instead of just 6-4.
Fontan, who has been called the team's best player and leader by O'Neill, will look to lift the Trojans against an imposing Kansas team playing at home in Allen Fieldhouse, a place where the Jayhawks have won 64 consecutive games.
In essence, a win won't come easy, as Kansas presently ranks third nationally in scoring with 87.3 points per game and highly-anticipated freshman Josh Selby will make his debut Saturday. Selby is the school's most heralded freshman since Danny Manning, and while the Jayhawks are off to a sizzling start, his presence has the potential to make them even more dangerous.
But if USC has one advantage, it may be in the interior, where the Trojans feature Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic. In their upset of Texas two weeks ago, they relied heavily on their two big men, who combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds in their 73-56 win.
For more information on USC basketball, check out SBN's Conquest Chronicles.