Wake Forest sophomore forward to transfer to USC

When junior forward Nikola Vucevic declared for the NBA draft on March 25, USC coach Kevin O’Neill vowed to recruit one or two new players who were ready to contribute to the team.

True to his word, O’Neill convinced Wake Forest transfer Ari Stewart to verbally commit to USC.

Stewart announced the news on his Twitter account Wednesday morning, posting a picture of the inside of the Galen Center with the caption, “Oh yea [sic], my new home.”

He requested and was granted his release from the Demon Deacon basketball program March 23 after he had previously been suspended for the ACC tournament due to academic concerns.

“Ari is a fine young man who has chosen to pursue happiness somewhere else,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik told reports when asked about Stewart’s departure. “And I wish him well. It provides another young man with an opportunity.”

Stewart was on USC’s campus over the weekend to see the university.

Stewart will have to sit out the upcoming season as a result of NCAA transfer rules. He can begin playing for the Trojans during the 2012-2013 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Stewart is a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward from Marietta, Georgia. As a freshman, he finished fifth on the Demon Deacons with an average of 7.3 points per game. He led all ACC freshmen by shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

As a sophomore this past season, he averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, but his three-point percentage fell to 27.4 percent. He did not score in the last four games he appeared in, after scoring in double figures in ten of his first 11 games; Wake Forest ended the season on an 11-game losing steak.

With Vucevic and senior forward Alex Stepheson departing, USC will be forced to rely heavily on an inexperienced frontcourt next season. The Trojans’ post rotation will include transfers James Blasczyk, DeWayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller, in addition to Curtis Washington, who did not score last season.

Only two of the Trojans’ top seven scorers from last season, guards Jio Fontan and Maurice Jones, will return next season.

1 reply
  1. Steve B.
    Steve B. says:

    Not ready to contribute next year so what is the big deal. Rather recruit a top player out of high school for the following year which Coach O’Neill doesn’t seem capable at this juncture. Taking other schools mal content so the Trojans have become the University of Second Chance.

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