The announcement was a formality for the projected lottery pick, but USC’s Onyeka Okongwu made it official Wednesday that he will leave the Trojans after one season and enter the NBA Draft.
Okongwu is USC’s second one-and-one prospect in as many years and will almost certainly give the Trojans a second straight first-round draft pick, following Kevin Porter Jr.’s selection last year (No. 30 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers).
«What a ride it’s been my first year at USC. My freshman campaign at the school has been nothing short of spectacular,» Okongwu wrote in his post on Twitter. «To Coach Enfield, Hart, Capko and Mobley, I want to thank you for letting a kid from Chino into your program. To my brothers on the team, the love and bond I have for you guys is real and it’s something I will always keep close to me. I want to thank the Trojan Family for the unconditional support this year. To the fans at Galen, thank you for the consistent love and support every time I stepped on the court.
«However, all good things must come to an end. I want to take the next step when the opportunity presents itself. With careful consideration, I am announcing that I am declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.»
Okongwu came in as a highly-touted 5-star prospect from Chino Hills High School and delivered on expectations, leading the Trojans in scoring (16.2 points per game), rebounding (8.6 per game) and blocked shots (76).
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward excelled with his length, athleticism and rebounding and defensive instincts. He quickly became a focal point of opposing defensive strategy as opponents sought to limit his impact within a Trojans’ offense that was largely inconsistent around him all season.
Okongwu had 10 20-point games, including a season-high 33 vs. Pepperdine. His season-high for rebounds was 14, achieved twice — against Harvard and Oregon. And he had at least four blocks in a game nine times, including tying the program’s single-game record of 8 in his collegiate debut vs. Florida A&M.
«[He’ll] probably be a fairly high pick. We’re excited for him to get drafted,» USC coach Andy Enfield told TrojanSports.com earlier this week. «We’re not sure when the NBA Draft will be, but he deserves it, he had a terrific season and he’s an extremely hard worker and even better person. So we’re really excited for his future as well as we are for our program.»
The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25, and the latest mock drafts agree with Enfield’s assessment.
The Sporting News projects Okongwu to go No. 8 overall while Bleacher Report and CBSSports.com project him No. 9, just to name a few of the more notable sites that have released mock drafts. NBADraftRoom.com slots Okongwu all the way up to No. 4.
USC has had 12 first-round NBA draft picks all-time, including just three in the top 10 — an exclusive list Okongwu could join if those projections hold.
USC Players Selected in First Round of NBA Draft
**Jack Nichols was drafted in the first round in 1948 out of Washington, after previously spending time at USC; Bo Kimble was drafted in the first round in 1990 out of Loyola Marymount after starting out at USC.