End-of-year capsules, No. 7

Over a two-week period that began last week, we're going over the 10 scholarship basketball players who were on USC's 2010-2011 roster -- one by one, Monday-Friday -- and recap their accomplishments in the now-completed season, no matter how big or how small. In order, the series has featured redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, redshirt sophomore Evan Smith, sophomore Curtis Washington, sophomore forward Garrett Jackson, sophomore guard Maurice Jones and departed senior guard Marcus Simmons, with the years in reference to what they will be come next season.

Now we have departed senior guard Donte Smith.

Smith was by far USC's most improved player in 2010-2011 and could have received consideration for similar honors in the Pac-10 had he not slumped toward the end of the season.

But he did, finishing off the year averaging just 5.9 points per game in his final nine games after starting the year off with a double-digit points-per-game average. Oddly, that drop in scoring production coincided with his move to the starting lineup just before the road trip to the Bay Area schools, when coach Kevin O'Neill switched Smith and guard Maurice Jones and instilled Smith as the starter.

Still, his final numbers of 9.7 points per game on 35 percent 3-point shooting were respectable, and USC truly wouldn't have finished the season anywhere close to where it did without his service. O'Neill, in particular, often seemed surprised by just how much Smith had improved from his junior to senior years, and Smith really was a liability when he first came off the bench for the Trojans under Tim Floyd in 2008-2009.

It remains to be seen whether or not Smith will be able to carve himself out a career playing professionally in Europe, but it is at least a possibility. He's a capable, confident 3-point shooter and a hard worker who made himself into a key contributor at a Pac-10 program.

That's it for today. Coming up Wednesday is departed senior forward Alex Stepheson.