Nothing good seems to happen to USC point guards in the offseason.
Two years ago, Ryan Francis was fatally shot in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La., and Gabe Pruitt was declared academically ineligible for the first semester. Last year, Daniel Hackett suffered a broken jaw that may or may not have been the result of an inadvertent O.J. Mayo elbow.
Now comes word that sophomore Angelo Johnson is leaving the team because Coach Tim Floyd declined to guarantee him a spot in the starting lineup.
"He asked me with O.J. [Mayo’s] departure if I could guarantee him a spot in the starting lineup," Floyd said Thursday night. "I told him, ‘Angelo, you’re going to play a bunch and could start on 95% of the teams in the country, but I can’t guarantee you that. I don’t think it would be fair to our new players coming in to guarantee anything to anybody.’ … He’s made his choice and is going to explore his options."
The 5-foot-11 Johnson started 11 games last season and averaged 4.5 points and 2.1 assists, making 40.3% of his three-point attempts. He made several big shots off the bench and served as a capable backup to Mayo and Daniel Hackett.
"He was instrumental in a lot of wins for us," Floyd said. "He’s a very, very good player and we’d love to have him, but unfortunately he’s made another choice. I think it does impact us."
Johnson’s departure leaves Hackett and sophomore Donte Smith as the top point guard options. There’s also freshman Romeo Miller and junior walk-on Ryan Wetherell, who don’t really figure to get much playing time.
Floyd said he was disappointed in Johnson’s decision. "In this age of instant gratification," Floyd said, "all these guys want to start, want to play. … We wish they could all be like Darren Collison and wait a year for their turn."