Guards Maurice Jones and Jio Fontan spoke about teammate Bryce Jones' decision to transfer Tuesday after the Trojans practiced in preparation for a game against Stanford on Thursday.
Jones had started the first 10 games of USC's season but became a sparingly-used reserve when Fontan became eliglble Dec. 18 at Kansas. Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones had become fast friends and roommates since they enrolled at USC over the summer.
Here's what the two had to say:
(Maurice Jones, on what it changes for the team)
"It changes us a little bit, especially with him coming off the bench, he provided some scoring and things like that, like the UCLA game, when he came in and sparked us and helped us get the win."
(Maurice Jones, on whether it limits options in the backcourt)
"Yeah, a little bit, because Bryce was kinda like our slasher. Bryce, at 6-5 or 6-6, he was long, he was able to be one of our best guards rebounding and stuff like that, but we've just gotta do it with what we've got."
(Maurice Jones, on whether, personally, he'll miss having his roommate on the team with him)
"I would like for Bryce to be here. Me and him had such good chemistry. But he's got to take his talents somewhere else and hopefully he'll be successful wherever he goes."
(Fontan, on how to move forward)
"We just need to get closer as a team. Most importantly, I think it's important to know that everybody on our team, we're all behind Bryce. We all wish him the best. I don't think anybody here has any negative attitudes towards his decision. It happened but it is what it is, and I think now we just get a little closer and understand that we need more people."
(Fontan, on taking Jones' starting spot)
"I don't personally feel bad or anything like that. I think Bryce, if you ask him, me and him were pretty close and I think we got closer as I started to come back and play, because we were both excited to play with each other. That was one of my things -- I tell people all the time, it's funny how the roads have changed, because at Fordham I had a lot of people who wanted to play with me and I made the decision to come here because I wanted to play with a lot of the guys here, like Nik, and knowing Maurice and Bryce were gonna be here. Especially Bryce, I heard a lot about Bryce and I always wanted to play with another wing like that. I hadn't played with a wing that good since playing with Mike Rosario [at St. Anthony's High in Jersey City, N.J.] To lose him is tough on me because not only did I lose somebody I wanted to play with, but I lost a friend. I told him from the day I heard about the whole situation that if he ever needed my help, because I went through the same situation, that I'm always there for him."