Fontan not coming Saturday; still interested in IU

Jio Fontan, a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard transferring from Fordham University, said Friday that he has a scholarship offer from Indiana and that he hopes to visit Bloomington. That visit, however, will not be Saturday for the IU-Kentucky game as was initially reported.

“I guess it was just a little bit of miscommunication between myself, the coaches and my dad,” Fontan said. “It just came down to communication. But I talked to (assistant coach Roshown McLeod) and maybe that visit will happen later on this month.”

Fontan, from Paterson, N.J., was rated the No. 144 recruit in the country by Rivals.com when he left legendary St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City. As a senior in 2007-08, he helped lead the Friars to a 32-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in national Top 25 polls of both USA Today and ESPN. He committed as a junior to Fordham, opting to try to help rebuild the struggling Rams despite interest from higher level schools like Tennessee, Oklahoma, St. John’s and George Mason.

But the losing he had to endure was more difficult than he imagined. Last season, he made the Atlantic-10 All-Freshman team, leading the Rams in scoring with 15.3 points per game and 4.7 assists per game, but Fordham went 3-25. He attempted to transfer after last season, but Fordham’s athletic director Frank McLaughlin refused to grant him his release. Fontan tried to come back in good faith and rededicate himself this year, and he was averaging 15.0 points and 4.1 assists per game. The Rams started 1-5, however, and coach Derek Whittenburg was fired. Fordham made Fontan’s favorite assistant coach, Jared Grosso, the interim head coach, but Fontan still decided it was time to go.

“It was just an ongoing feeling that came back,” Fontan said.”I tried to come back with a positive mentality and forget about everything that happened last year, but little by little some of same emotions back. I was just not happy as a person. It affected the way I played. It affected the way I acted to my loved ones. I had to leave because I didn’t want to be that guy anymore.”

Fontan believes he might be a good fit with the Hoosiers, one of several teams that have inquired about his services since he was officially granted his release on Monday. He’s known McLeod, also a former St. Anthony’s star, since he was in high school, and IU coach Tom Crean recruited Fontan’s friend Tyshawn Taylor to Marquette. Taylor eventually ended up at Kansas, but Fontan said his friend always spoke highly of Crean. Fontan was also at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night to see the Hoosiers play Pittsburgh and guard Travon Woodall, who grew up living in Fontan’s home. Fontan said he was impressed with Indiana’s style of play.

“Tyshawn was always telling me that (Crean) lets his guards play,” Fontan said. “You’re going to make mistakes but he’s going to roll with them, and he’s not going to be too quick to snatch them out, and that’s what he did. I also like how they open up the floor and play off the pick n’ roll. Plus they were a lot better defensively than I expected. Overall, they were just really impressive.”

Fontan said he also has offers from Tennessee, Southern California, Miami, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. He said he hopes to make four official visits, but may only make three because he wants to enroll in the second semester. By NCAA transfer rules, Fontan has to sit out a year, but he becomes eligible at the end of final exams of the first semester of next year. He would be eligible for the rest of that season and the following year.

With swingmen Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey having signed letters of intent in the early period, Fontan would fill Indiana’s final remaining scholarship for 2010.

8 comments

  1. Fontan looks like a solid player, but I actually think his recruitment signifies that Selby’s chance of signing with IU is “Low” at best. Selby is probably hoping Wall will leave for the NBA next year and that he can be “the man” at UK in 2010…

  2. Man, the Hoosiers are scraping the bottom of the recruiting barrel if they’re offering a scholarship to a 6-foot guard who was rated No. 144 in the country and played for Fordham, with a 3-25 record. Surely you can crack a recruit or two in the top 100, can’t you? Must be those red striped pantaloons the team is wearing over their shorts. Lose those Ronald McDonald pajamas and man up with some real uniforms. Might help your recruiting.

  3. Hopefully not another Devan Dumes, who was coveted by Ohio State, remember.

    Let’s not discount the experience factor here, though. Getting a 3-star guard with some D1 playing time under his belt is pretty much like getting a 4 star player. Like Rivers this year.

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