Bryce Jones reportedly faced dismissal from team
USC coach Kevin O’Neill gave freshman guard Bryce Jones the option of transferring or facing dismissal from the team after separate incidents with a teammate and a residential adviser, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Jones allegedly hit freshman forward Garrett Jackson early in the school year, fracturing his nose and forcing Jackson to miss the team’s scrimmage, as well as multiple practices.
Jones also was said to have had a confrontation with a resident adviser in his dormitory, according to the Times.
The report contrasts USC’s official release last week that announced Jones’ decision to transfer, citing playing time as one of the reasons he was leaving.
Jones’ stepfather K.C. Jones, however, told the Times he was unaware of the alleged locker room incident regarding Jackson, while also denying that Jones was told to either transfer or be dismissed.
“It would have been torture for him to play out the year with a coach he wasn’t happy with,” the elder Jones told the Times.
K.C. Jones, instead, insisted that Bryce Jones was simply disappointed after O’Neill had allegedly promised Jones during the recruiting process that he would play at least 30 minutes a game.
Jones averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18 games, including 10 starts before announcing his decision to transfer.
He was second on the team in three-point baskets made and steals.
Jones had an immediate impact on the team, playing 29 or more minutes in six of his first eight collegiate games.
Once junior guard Fontan became eligible, however, Jones saw his playing time decrease significantly. In home games against Washington and Washington State, he played a combined seven minutes. In road games at Oregon and Oregon State, he was only on the court for 14 minutes.
In his absence, Jackson, along with senior guard Donte Smith, have seen more minutes off the bench.
“It’s a good opportunity for Garrett [Jackson], and something we are going to have to adjust to,” Fontan said.
The Trojans are 1-1 since Jones’ announcement, splitting the weekend series with Stanford and California.
O’Neill did not comment on the report.
“It is not really a distraction,” Fontan said at practice Tuesday about the allegations becoming public. “As a team, we do not pay too much attention to it.”
Last week, O’Neill said he was disappointed he couldn’t meet Jones’ needs as a coach.
“We appreciate his contributions to our program, and we wish Bryce and his family all the best,” O’Neill said in a statement released on the team’s website. He’s a talented player with a promising future.”