I've been following the Jio Fontan story this offseason. It's rare to see a school refuse to release a player from his commitment when that player no longer wants to play for the team - disgruntled employees can be tough to deal with!
Fontan, as you might know, was Fordham's star recruit last year and did not disappoint the Rams fans, leading the team in minutes, shots taken, shots made, points, assists, free throws, turnovers, and steals, with a very high assist rate and rate of drawing fouls. So he's leading them in pretty much EVERYTHING.
For a 3-25(!) team, it would be crushing to lose the only player who seemed to be able to create for a scoring and rebounding handicapped squad (on both ends).
But Fontan has expressed his desire to transfer; even though his high school coach, the highly respected future hall of famer Bob Hurley, thinks he should stick it out at Fordham. I guess Hurley doesn't like quitters! But at 3-25, there's a lot of reasons to quit.
The school is getting better recruits with Jared Grasso handling the recruiting, and handling it well. But other members of the Fordham Rams have transferred, weakening the team. Schools from the Big East and other major eastern conferences are interested in bringing Fontan in.
Jio's former teammate Trey Blue had this to say:
Blue said Fontan had agreed not to play at Rutgers or any local Big East school if he transfers.
"Jio said that if he got a release saying he couldn’t go to Rutgers, he would accept it," Blue said. "The Fordham community, they think he’s going to Rutgers, that’s not it. After the year he had I would believe Jio has more options than Rutgers. They should give him his release and let him make a decision that’s best for his future."
Today comes the news that Fontan might transfer without getting his release. Without the release, Fontan will have to play without a basketball scholarship for a season. Funny... then the major school that might be most palatable money-wise would be Rutgers... which defeats the purpose of holding Fontan in the Fordham thrall to prevent him from going to Rutgers.
Like Fordham Sports Net, I think it is time for Fordham to let Fontan go. Other schools and players are watching, and holding a player captive like this so publicly cannot be good for recruiting. Or for one's relationship with Bob Hurley, despite what he said earlier this spring.
Adam Zagoria digs deeper into the Jio Fontan situation with an interview with Jio's father, Jorge, confirming that the player will leave Fordham after the spring semester; Jorge speaks to the lack of concern he feels the basketball staff has towards Jio and his future. Check it out, it's a good read.