Bryce Jones leaving USC

Freshman guard Bryce Jones will transfer from the USC men's basketball team, the school announced Tuesday.

"I was aware that Bryce might not have been happy with some of his playing time and shots and things like that," head coach Kevin O'Neill said after the team's Tuesday practice. "The last thing I want to do is have a guy in a situation where he's not happy, so it'll work out for him and he'll do well."

Jones, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard from Woodland Hills Taft High who was the highest-rated player in USC's 2010 recruiting class, started the first 10 games this season but lost his starting job to Fordham transfer Jio Fontan just before the Trojans' Dec. 18 game against Kansas and had been playing scant minutes in the eight games since. On the season, he had recorded averages of 7.6 points, 1.6 assists in 20.6 minutes per game.

He cited a lack of playing time as a reason for his decision in a statement released by the school.

"My family and I felt it was in my best interest to transfer, so I informed Coach O'Neill of this yesterday," Jones said. "Although my time at USC didn't go exactly how I had hoped in terms of playing time, I appreciate the experience I was offered and wish my teammates nothing but the best in the future."

Jones was not present for the beginning of USC's Tuesday practice at the Galen Center; O'Neill arrived roughly 20 minutes after its scheduled start.

Afterward, O'Neill said he and Jones had been discussing his issues with playing time since December, but said he didn't regret keeping him on the bench.

"My only regret is I couldn't meet his needs as a player," O'Neill said. "You hate to lose any player -- especially a guy that's a good guy and potentially has a chance to be a very fine player -- but I respect his decision and I respect that he wants to go somewhere else."

In USC's two losses to Oregon and Oregon State last weekend, Jones played a total of 14 minutes. O'Neill said there was a reason for that but added that he could not disclose it.

Teammates said they had known about Jones' decision for some time; it was made official only Tuesday.

"I would like for Bryce to be here," said point guard Maurice Jones, his roommate. "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."

A school spokesman said Jones plans to continue attending classes at USC for the duration of the spring semester, which began last week.

Pedro Moura covers colleges for ESPNLosAngeles.com.