With an NCAA ruling expected to be released later this month regarding a possible "lack of institutional control," now probably wouldn't be the best time for Rutgers to be contemplating filing tampering charges against USC regarding the potential transfer of sophomore guard Mike Rosario - a teammate of Jio Fontan at St. Anthony High School in New Jersey.
Kevin O'Neill's interest in a player such as Rosario certainly makes a ton of sense. In 2008, when coming out of high school, Rosario became the first ever McDonald's All-American to ever sign with Rutgers after ESPN/Scouts Inc. rated the 6'3" shooting guard the fifth best at his position. During his first two years with the program, he's had some success, averaging just 16 points per game, but he's also had his fair share of difficulties as seen by a dismal .326 3-point shooting percentage last season.
But even with his relatively positive experience at Rutgers, Rosario is looking to leave Piscataway in the wake of the firing of 4-year head coach Fred Hill after he got into an outburtst at a Rutgers-Pittsburgh baseball game.
Nonetheless, the transfer of Rosario isn't what's important here, it's whether USC did anything illegal in trying to lure him west to Los Angeles. According to sources from MyCentralJersey.com, that may be the case.
The sources said any transfer release granted by the university might well preclude Rosario from relocating to USC, where former St. Anthony High School teammate Jio Fontan landed after leaving Fordham this winter. The release, a source said, will also restrict Rosario from transferring to Florida or Kansas.
Tampering charges, the sources said, would be filed after the new coach is in place.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin O'Neill denied the charges in a report in the Orange County Register.
"I can assure you that nobody on my staff, nor myself, has talked to him," O'Neill said by phone late Friday night. "He has not contacted us. I don't know what that's all about."
I'm a little skeptical of these charges considering that Kevin O'Neill has never had any run-ins with the NCAA and has always run a clean ship wherever he's been. Additionally, it would be equally as unlikely for USC to be this sloppy just weeks before the NCAA ruling is expected to be released. For now, let's just wait and see if anything comes of these accusations. Often times, when it comes to the issue of tampering chargers in the college basketball world, they tend to slide as a lot of sour grapes are involved.
More on the current 'SC program after the jump.
While the potential transfer of Rosario is certainly up in the air, the news regarding the Trojans' class of 2010 recruiting class seems to be a lot more positive and definitive.
Top shooting guard recruit Bryce Jones, a product of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, recently received the 2010 John R. Wooden Award for the City Section.
Chosen by a panel of local area prep sports experts, the John R. Wooden Award High School Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the most valuable player in each of the six California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section divisions and the Los Angeles City Section. Past winners include current and former NBA and college standouts Baron Davis, Tayshaun Prince, Tyson Chandler, and Andre Miller. Bank of America continues to support The Los Angeles Athletic Club in honoring the Southland's top players each season.
Jones (16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds), an All-City and All-State player, took his team to the LA City title game in 2010.
While those numbers certainly sound impressive, fellow recruit Maurice Jones of Saginaw, Michigan, had an equally impressive senior campaign. From the Associated Press:
MT. PLEASANT (AP) -- He's just 5-foot-8, but Maurice Jones came up big this season for Saginaw Arthur Hill.
The point guard led the Lumberjacks into the tournament quarterfinals after averaging 30 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and four steals per game.
Now, the Southern California signee has been named Associated Press Class A Player of the Year.
I've heard a lot scouts remark that Jones is actually a better prospect coming out of high school than Jerome Randle, who was just selected as the Pac-10 player of the year last season. He's certainly quick and agile, and can do a lot of things that Mike Gerrity just couldn't do. I don't mean to suggest that he's a better player than Gerrity, but he does bring a unique skill set to the Trojans next season. Nonetheless, a backcourt featuring two Joneses could be an exciting unit to watch next season.