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USC basketball: Kevin Porter Jr. declares for NBA Draft

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 14: Nick Rakocevic (L) #31 of the USC Trojans hugs teammate Kevin Porter Jr. #4 after he hit a 3-pointer against the Washington Huskies at the end of the first half of a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 14: Nick Rakocevic (L) #31 of the USC Trojans hugs teammate Kevin Porter Jr. #4 after he hit a 3-pointer against the Washington Huskies at the end of the first half of a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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USC basketball will lose a key young talent, as expected, with freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft, per ESPN.

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Kevin Porter Jr. is leaving USC basketball for the 2019 NBA Draft.

“I will be declaring for the 2019 NBA draft and I will be signing with Roc Nation Sports,” Porter was quoted by Jonathan Givony of ESPN on Friday.

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Since Porter Jr. is signing with an agency, he will not be eligible to return to the Trojans if his draft prospects are not to his liking.

In truth, it’s unlikely Porter Jr. won’t feature highly in draft conversations. He is considered an early first round prospect with the potential to be a Top 5 selection.

Bright showings even before he stepped on the court in cardinal and gold created buzz around the guard. His first five games as a freshman at USC only added to the perception of his NBA potential. He scored in the double digits in each of those games, showing an all-around ability to drive, shoot, assist and defend.

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Unfortunately for the Trojans and the player, Porter Jr. suffered a thigh bruise and missed extended time over the course of December. Even when he returned to action in mid-January he appeared limited.

His impact did improve in the final month of the season and he closed out his USC career with a 17-point outing against Washington in the Pac-12 Tournament.

In all, Porter Jr. averaged 9.5 points per game while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.

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There was a suggestion that Porter Jr. could shut himself down in the midst of his injury woes to protect himself for the NBA Draft. To his credit, however, he dismissed that idea and returned to action, showing his full commitment to USC basketball.

“I just want to thank the Trojan family for being there for me, through the injuries, everything I battled this year. It was a great growth experience and a learning experience for me, and I just love the support that I have,” Porter Jr. told ESPN.

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