Kevin Porter Jr. becomes first USC basketball first rounder since 2011
USC basketball’s Kevin Porter Jr. became the first Trojan to be drafted in the first round since 2011, going No. 30 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft.
It’s been quite awhile since USC basketball played a part in the first round of the NBA Draft, but 2019 changed that. Just barely
On Thursday night, guard Kevin Porter Jr. was selected No. 30 overall by Cleveland Cavaliers, by way of the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first first rounder out of USC since center Nikola Vucecic was taken No. 16 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011.
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USC had a string of four first round picks in five years from 2017 to 2011, including Nick Young, O.J. Mayo, Taj Gibson, DeMar DeRozan and Vucevic. Considering the Trojans strong recruiting prospects, Andy Enfield and company will hope Porter Jr. is the start of a similar run.
A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Porter Jr. was expected to explode for USC as a freshman in 2018-19. While his talent was undeniable, he wasn’t able have the kind of impact that was hoped.
A thigh bruise kept the guard out for just about all of December while his return in January was put on hold by an indefinite suspension for a behavioral issue.
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There was some speculation that Porter Jr. might forgo the remainder of the season, but to his credit he returned to the court in cardinal and gold.
Unfortunately, USC failed to make the NCAA tournament in what was ultimately a disappointing season.
Porter Jr. averaged 9.5 points for the Trojans in 21 appearances. He made five starts. When he was available he proved a dangerous scoring option in spurts. He was 47.1 percent from the field and hit 41.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
The lengthy injury and the suspension created red flags for Porter Jr. as the NBA Draft approached. Still, scouts raved about his clear talent, particularly his athleticism and ability to shoot the basketball.
The Cavaliers, who passed on Porter Jr. at No. 26 to pick Belmont small forward Dylan Windler, are getting a prospect with a high risk-reward equation. In the first month of the USC season, Porter Jr. was being touted as a Top 5-level talent. If he lives up to that promise this time around he could push DeMar DeRozan to be the best Trojan in the NBA for a long while.