After USC basketball bowed out of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, head coach Andy Enfield weighed in on NBA decisions for Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu.
USC basketball head coach Andy Enfield didn’t exactly stump for his two star players, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, to return for their junior campaigns, but the hint was there.
Following the Trojans loss to Baylor in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Enfield refrained from taking a side.
“We want what’s best for our players. If that means to have an opportunity to go play in the NBA, that’s great. We’re all for that,” Enfield said, per Zach Helfand of the LA Times. “If it means coming back to school and improving your opportunity to have guaranteed money or to be a higher pick, to be more NBA ready [then]…But that’s not up to me.”
Enfield continued that each individual player has to make their decision based on the information they have, but referenced Baylor’s Johnathan Motley as a player who wasn’t ready after his redshirt sophomore season. He came back and went up a level as a redshirt junior.
The numbers bear out on Motley. In 2016, he averaged 11.1 points, tallying 5.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.
As a result, Motley has garnered All-American acclaim and is considered a first-round lock if he opts to depart after Baylor’s tournament run.
Reading between the lines, Enfield is sending a message to Boatwright and Metu: You were good this year, but you could be great. You may be a fringe draft pick this year, but you could be a first-rounder.
The Motley comparison applies more directly to Metu, whose performance against the Bears on Sunday was exceptional with 28 points.
However, the sophomore forward, for all his growth, is still a work in progress. He has length and athleticism, but his strength and power is a question.
Motley took advantage of Baylor’s strength and conditioning program to bulk up, seeing the work payoff in Year 4. That’s certainly something Enfield could hope for when it comes to his talented big man, should he return for Year 3.
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Boatwright could also benefit from some fine tuning. His scoring ability is undeniable, but he’s prone to fade in and out of games and hasn’t shown enough consistency. He also missed valuable development time due to an MCL injury this season.
He could sneak into the back end of the draft, but he’s not likely to turn heads at the NBA Combine, if he gets an invite.
Another year at USC could be the difference between a fringe draft pick and a more solidified place, if not a first-round selection.
For their parts, Boatwight and Metu both said after the game, per Joey Kaufman of the OC Register, that they have yet to make a decision about going or staying.
The time for that will come soon enough, with the NBA’s early entrance declaration date set for April 23. Even then, the two would have until ten days after the NBA Combine to pull themselves out of the draft pool.