Nikola Jovanovic declared for the 2016 NBA Draft Thursday, but will not hire an agent leaving the option to return to USC basketball open.
USC basketball had another important player enter the pool of potential departures Thursday as forward Nikola Jovanovic declared for the 2016 NBA Draft. The Serbian big man will not hire an agent, however, allowing him to return to the Trojans next season.
“Testing the waters presents a big oppportunity for me and I’m really excited about what comes next!” Jovanovic tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Jovanovic joins guard Julian Jacobs in declaring for the draft while keeping their option to return open.
The 6-foot-11 forward averaged 12.1 points and led the Trojans in field goal percentage during the 2015-16 season. He also led USC with 237 rebounds.
With key contributions from Jovanovic, USC had an unexpected run of good form this past season, earning their first bid in the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
When the season ended, the Trojans were expected to return nearly the entire roster of players, leading to rising expectations for an even more competitive run in 2016-17.
However, bench contributors Darion Clark, Malik Martin and Malik Marquetti announced their intention to transfer shortly after USC’s tournament exit. Then occasional starter Katin Reinhardt joined the ranks of those intending to transfer.
If Jovanovic and Jacobs receive enough positive feedback during the NBA Combine, their departures would leave the Trojans with a surprising number of major holes to fill.
Helping USC’s situation is a strong recruiting class for this coming season. Four-star guard Jonah Mathews, three-star guard De’Anthony Melton, three-star forward Harrison Henderson and three-star forward Nick Rakocevic are due to join the Trojans in the fall.
Rakocevic, who committed to the Trojans earlier this week, is the heir-apparent to Jovanovic whether he leaves this year or next.