Forward Bennie Boatwright announced his intention to return to USC basketball for the 2017-18 season on Thursday night, after initially entering his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.
USC basketball has yet another reason to celebrate this offseason. Following the news that Chimezie Metu and Elijah Stewart are due to return to school for another season, Bennie Boatwright added to the growing excitement around the program by announcing that he too will come back for his junior year.
The forward had entered his name in the 2017 NBA Draft pool, though he kept his option to return to USC open by declining to hire an agent.
Even before the NBA Combine invites have been locked in and the draft process started, Boatwright backed off his pro pursuit, posting a video on Twitter with a simple message, “Year 3.”
Boatwright led USC in scoring this past season, helping the Trojans to two wins in the NCAA Tournament and a program-record 26 wins overall. He missed two months with a knee injury but still averaged 18 points per game on the season.
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Though he entered his name in the NBA Draft, Boatwright was considered a fringe second-round prospect. With another year to develop, he could shore up his draft stock.
Boatwright’s return leaves Shaqquan Aaron as the lone Trojan still considering a departure.
As a result, USC’s 2017-18 roster appears stacked, with Boatwright and Metu supported by the likes of Jordan McLaughlin, Stewart, De’Anthony Melton and Jonah Mathews. Joining the fun are Duke transfer Derryck Thornton and incoming freshman Charles O’Bannon Jr.
After the success of the 2016-17 season, the return of just about every key contributor and the other exciting additions could put USC in contention for the Pac-12 title.