LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Maurice Jones #10 of the USC Trojans shoots over Lazeric Jones #11 of the UCLA Bruins during the first round of the Pac12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. UCLA won 55-40. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
USC junior guard Maurice Jones has been ruled academically ineligible and will not play this upcoming season.
Jones was the team's leading scorer last year, averaging 13.5 points. He also led the Trojans in numerous offensive categories, including assists (111), steals (56) and 3-pointers made (52).
"Maurice Jones has been nothing short of magnificent for us for two years," said O'Neill in a statement. "Mo has been a great guy and great player and we want him to graduate from USC. I support him 100 percent in all that he does."
USC finished just 6-26 last season, the worst mark in program history. Despite this, there was optimism the team this year had a shot at earning an NCAA tournament berth.
Senior guard Jio Fontan, sophomore Dewayne Dedmon and forward Aaron Fuller would all be returning from injuries. Ari Stewart, Eric Wise and J.T. Terrell, all transfers, would be eligible to play, too.
Jones was expected to come off the bench in a sixth-man role, with Fontan and Terrell taking over the starting guard spots.
Now that Jones is no longer with the team, all five players from O'Neill's first two recruiting classes are gone. Guard Bryce Jones transferred to UNLV, forward Garrett Jackson transferred to St. Mary's, forward Curtis Washington was granted his release from the program and signed with Georgia State and forward Evan Smith left the team via medical retirement.
But these aren't the only players to leave under his watch. Forward Leonard Washington transferred to Wyoming after the 2009-10 season after O'Neill dismissed him from the team. Center Davis Rozitis, from Latvia, is now in Hawai'i playing for the Warriors.
It's a startling trend to say the least. O'Neill's track record at USC isn't all that great (41-55) and fans are starting to lose patience with him.
This tune has been sung for what seems like forever now, but this season is a make or break year for the fourth-year coach.
Fans want results and they want wins, especially after last year's disastrous season.