HAWTHORNE — It'll be another year until they play together for USC, but basketball signees Aaron Fuller, Bryce Jones and DeWayne Dedmon — under the moniker of Salvatori's Squad — teamed up Saturday afternoon for the Nike Sayno Classic at the Hangar Athletic Xchange for a dominating win over a team featuring a number of Hawaii recruits.
It was the first time the trio had suited up for the same team, and it showed. Particularly in the early-going, the three Trojans' signees were largely outshined on their own team by UC Riverside guard/forward Kyle Austin, who spent a season at USC before transferring. But each USC player managed to put their own skillsets on display as the game went on.
Fuller, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward who decided to transfer from Iowa last month, frequently used his bruising style of play to post up Team Aloha defenders. He also showed a smooth stroke from within 18 or so feet in warmups.
Jones — who couldn't get his shot to fall consistently — was perhaps the fastest non-point guard on the court, often serving as a distributor to Austin from the perimeter. And the ever-raw Dedmon ran the court with alacrity and battled for rebounds, although his 7-foot, 225-pound frame was outfought on more than one occasion.
With the game moving at a frenetic, playground-style pace, Austin dominated both the game and the ball, leaving few shots for Fuller and even fewer for Dedmon. But the 6-foot-5, 175-pound Jones found open looks at the hoop multiple times, only to come up empty on most of his tries.
Jones' athleticism — and development over the next few months — will be key for the 2010 squad. In March, he said he planned to feverishly work out over the summer in order to enter into college with a more Division-I-type body. He seems to have started on that process, although he is still able to be pushed around on the boards.
Fuller's frame reminds some of Elton Brand — the 76ers forward listed at 6-foot-9, 254 pounds but widely believed to be closer to the 6-foot-7 mark — and he uses it well, boxing out efficiently on most plays. He notably recorded 7.6 rebounds per game in Big Ten conference play a season ago.
Dedmon looked particularly slender. Even as the tallest man on the court, he was far from the most intimidating defensively. He did amass an early block but was silent on the defensive end later on.
After the game, Jones talked about his performance and his excitement in playing alongside his future USC teammates for the first time.
Of course, Jones is the only member of the triumvirate who will suit up for the Trojans this season, as both Fuller and Dedmon will sit out the 2010-2011 season as transfers. But that doesn't mean the chemistry can't start to develop now.
"I think as time goes on we'll play more together," Jones said. "We'll start learning each other better — learning where we can score from, what we can do, and it'll be pretty good."
Here's the full video with Jones: