Fontan to Give Fordham Another Chance in Sophomore Year

Scoring Leader Will Not Follow Trend of Transferring


Published: August 27, 2009

Fordham basketball head coach Dereck Whittenburg announced on July 22 that guard Jio Fontan, FCRH ’12, will remain at Fordham and begin his second season with the team. The announcement stood in contrast to rumors that Fontan was considering requesting a transfer from Fordham last spring [one such story was reported in the April 30 issue of The Observer].

Fontan led the Rams in scoring last year, averaging 15.3 points per game, and collected team highs in assists, 127, and steals, 33. The freshman from St. Anthony High School in New Jersey was one of the few bright spots on a Fordham team that went 3-25 last season.

“After meeting with Jio Fontan and his family he decided to remain at Fordham,” said Whittenburg in a statement released by the athletics department. “He has always had an open invitation to stay and we welcome him back with open arms.”

Added Fontan in the same statement “After talking with my family we felt that the best decision was to remain at Fordham and build on the momentum from my appearance this summer with the Puerto Rican Under-19 national team. I’m excited to remain at Fordham and excited to be a part of the basketball program.”

Neither Whittenburg nor Fontan would comment further on the decision.

This summer, Fontan found success as part of Puerto Rico’s Under-19 national team, playing in both the FIBA 2009 tournament in Auckland, New Zealand and the 2009 Douai World Tournament in Douai, France. His numbers were promisingly similar in both tournaments, averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5 assists in New Zealand and 13.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in France. In the former tournament, Fontan started all nine games and netted the game winning basket with 2.6 seconds to play in a 67-65 win over Canada.

Fontan’s decision to remain at Rose Hill broke the recent trend of promising young Rams electing not to play another season in college

basketball’s oldest gym. Mike Moore was granted a transfer on April 2 after emerging as a viable scoring threat during the ’08-’09 season, averaging 12.8 points per game. A month earlier, freshman guard Try Blue announced his departure from the program after missing the last eight games of the season due to personal issues.

As the team looks ahead to a 2009-2010 season that will once again be plagued by youth and inexperience, Fontan will need to emerge as a leader, anchoring a young lineup for a coach who is growing increasingly unpopular with students and alumni. Whittenburg’s choice of words “welcoming back” the sophomore guard

perhaps illustrate how close Fontan came to leaving. If Fordham hopes to win more than three games this season, any rift between Fontan and the team will need to be healed before tip-off in November.