Bennie Boatwright reportedly intends to return to USC Basketball

Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images /

Forward Bennie Boatwright intends to return to USC Basketball for his senior season in 2018-19 after ending the 2017-18 season with a knee injury.

Bennie Boatwright’s USC Basketball career isn’t over just yet.

On Monday afternoon, CBS’s Jon Rothstein reported that Boatwright made the decision to stay with the Trojans for his final season of college eligibility rather than testing the waters of the NBA Draft like his junior teammate Chimezie Metu.

Rothstein’s report was confirmed by Boatwright’s father, per Joey Kaufman of the OC Register.

That’s major news for Andy Enfield and company, who had been facing the prospect of losing all four of their leading scorers from 2017-18, including Chimezie Metu, Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart. Boatwright averaged 13.6 points as a junior as USC’s second-leading scorer.

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Boatwright’s future prospects with USC and the pros were tested back in February with two significant pieces of news. The first was a season-ending knee injury the forward suffered against Oregon. Though initially thought to be a sprain, the problem turned out to be more significant. It wouldn’t require surgery, but would keep Boatwright out for several months, likely getting in the way of draft evaluations if he opted to put his name in the pool.

Around the same time, a report from Yahoo! Sports alleged that Boatwright and Metu, along with dozens of other college basketball players, had received illegal benefits violating NCAA rules. Documents appeared to show associates for Boatwright and Metu accepted advances from the sports agency implicated in the recent FBI probe which saw USC assistant Tony Bland arrested and guard De’Anthony Melton suspended for the season.

Since he now plans to return to school, it would seem the Trojans have likely cleared Boatwright of wrongdoing in much the same way they cleared Metu before the season concluded.

With Boatwright back, USC’s prospects look much brighter for the coming season. The Trojans return him along with big man Nikola Rakocevic, sixth-man Jonah Mathews and contributors like Derryck Thornton, Jordan Usher and Shaqquan Aaron. They also welcome three Top 80 prospects from the 2018 recruiting class including Elijah Weaver, Kevin Porter and J’Raan Brooks.

After finishing second in the Pac-12, but missing out on the NCAA Tournament, USC will look to keep progressing forward in 2018-19. Boatwright could be instrumental in doing just that.