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USC's Julian Jacobs to enter NBA Draft

The Trojans' heart and soul this season, Julian Jacobs, will declare for the NBA Draft, but could still return to school.

Junior point guard Julian Jacobs will enter his name in the NBA Draft process, but has not hired an agent as of yet, Jacobs confirmed to The decision was first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

According to Charania, Jacobs told USC head coach Andy Enfield his decision on Wednesday, the same day Enfield lost assistant coach Kevin Norris to Central Florida. 

One of the most explosive players on the West Coast this season, Jacobs was a highlight waiting to happen, typically making at least one dunk per game look way too easy for a 6-foot-4 point guard. He was the heart and soul of the team averaging 11.6 points, 5.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. 

His well-rounded overall numbers were solid, but not spectacular, yet Jacobs’ value to the Trojans was not lost on the Pac-12 coaches, who voted him first-team All-Pac-12. According to Charania, NBA executives believe Jacobs will boost his draft stock in team workouts and solidify himself as a draft pick:

The 6-foot-4 Jacobs is one of the top athletes in the 2016 draft class. NBA front-office executives are expecting Jacobs to solidify a second-round selection early in the draft process and potentially raise his stock through team workouts because of his high motor.

Due to new NCAA rules, Jacobs could still return to USC. Early entrants are allowed to throw their name into the mix and participate in workouts, including the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago May 11-15 to assess their status, but if they do not hire representation from a sports agency, they are allowed to withdraw their name by the June 13 deadline and return to school.

As long as Jacobs does not hire an agent and forfeit his amateur status, he would be eligible to withdraw his name and return to the Trojans.

If Jacobs sticks with the decision, it would be a crushing blow to the Trojans. His explosive athleticism and ability to finish in transition make him an ideal player in Enfield’s up-tempo system. It was evident just how different of a team the Trojans were with Jacobs this season...when he was unavailable. Jacobs injured his ankle on two separate occasions and the offense stagnated without him. Playing at Washington in the opening weekend of Pac-12 play, USC raced out to a 22-point lead only to see it slip away after Jacobs re-injured his ankle and was unavailable for the final 10 minutes of the game.

His improvement year-over-year has been marked. His scoring jumped from 6.6 points per game to 8.4 as a sophomore and 11.6 this season.

Jacobs’ decision-making improved every year. Jacobs struggled with leaving his feet early in his career, but remedied that and many more aspects of his game. He went from being a concern with the ball in his hands to the leader of the team, capable of knowing when to push the ball versus when to slow the tempo down. His assist numbers grew from 3.6 his freshman year to 5.5 this season while his turnovers remained the same.

If Jacobs does not withdraw his name, he would be the third potential senior to leave in the last week, following the transfer announcements of forward Darion Clark and shooting guard Katin Reinhardt. Sophomore forward Malik Martin also announced his transfer intentions last week. The Trojans were expected to only lose seldom-used senior forward Strahinja Gavrilovic, but half the roster could end up being overhauled.

Jacobs’ departure would put even more pressure on Jordan McLaughlin to develop into an all-conference caliber player since he would be the only Trojan with true ball-handling experience remaining on the roster. USC brings in two highly touted guard prospects in DeAnthony Melton and Jonah Mathews, but neither is a true point guard.

If Jacobs does not return, USC will have three available scholarships to use, possibly on a combination of graduate transfers and incoming freshmen.

This story has been updated with confirmation of the initial report. Top Stories