Basketball: End-of-year capsules, No. 10

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, departed senior guard Marcus Simmons and departed senior guard Donte Smith, with the years in reference to what they will be come next season.

We just had senior guard Jio Fontan -- now we have departed junior forward Nikola Vucevic.

Vucevic was this team's best player pretty much from the season opener against UC Irvine until the final game against VCU, with only a few mess-ups in between. He finished in double-digits in points in 29 of the Trojans' 34 games and at least nine rebounds in 27 of their 34 games. He was one of six power conference players to average a double-double.

Sure, the way he ended his USC career -- with three straight subpar games in postseason play -- was far from optimal, but Vucevic created a respectable legacy for himself in Trojan lore with his 2010-2011 performance. There were a few games this year where Vucevic was truly the only USC player to have a better-than-average game, and those often ended in Trojan wins -- a late January win at Arizona State for example -- but, more interestingly, there were several games where Vucevic single-handedly kept the Trojans in the game in an eventual loss with his teammates all struggling.

Examples? The Pac-10 opener against Washington, when he had 28 points and 14 rebounds in an overtime loss; the mid-January loss at Oregon State, when he had 26 points and 14 rebounds as the Trojans failed to complete a comeback; the mid-November loss to Bradley in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, when he had 22 points and 15 rebounds.

Not a single USC player other than Vucevic had more than 14 points in any of those games.

So, yes, the 20-year-old forward -- he began fall practice as a remarkable 19-year-old junior -- did more than his fair share this season. It'll be tough for coach Kevin O'Neill to replace with two players who have no Pac-10 experience in Aaron Fuller and DeWayne Dedmon.

That's it for this season-in-review series. We'll have more on USC basketball throughout the offseason.