The NBA announced a list of 182 players that had submitted paperwork to be considered as early entrants into the 2017 draft. But for USC fans, there was one name conspicuously missing -- junior guard Elijah Stewart.
Stewart will be returning to USC after passing the deadline without submitting his documents. Despite stating his intention to declare on April 11, he never actually joined the early entrant pool:
It was said that he forgot to submit his paperwork, but Stewart was quick to refute that:
It is not surprising that Stewart is returning to USC for his senior season. When he initially announced his intentions to declare for the draft two weeks ago, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard told the Los Angeles Times he would most likely be returning to school.
Stewart told USCfootball.com he received feedback from NBA personnel that had him as a second round or late-second round prospect in this year's draft. That helped him determine that staying for his senior season was the correct choice.
The Trojans' streakiest shooter averaged 12.3 points while shooting 43.1 percent from the floor and 38.6 percent from the three-point line. Stewart has explosive scoring potential as evidenced by his 30 points in the season opener, a 29-point performance against Arizona State and 22 points, including the game-winning shot against SMU in the NCAA tournament. But Stewart also disappears at times, scoring six or fewer points in 10 games. With dynamic athleticism that allows him to be a force at the rim on both ends, if Stewart can again increase his consistency -- something he has done a little every offseason -- he could be an intriguing prospect after next season.
USC guard Shaqquan Aaron and forward Bennie Boatwright both did submit paperwork and will go through the pre-draft process. If they do not hire an agent, they will have until May 24 to pull their name out of the draft and be able to return to USC.
With juniors Stewart and Jordan McLaughlin along with uber talented sophomore Chimezie Metu not submitting paperwork, the Trojans return a strong nucleus and add key additions with Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. now being eligible and a strong recruiting class coming in the fall. If Boatwright were to return, the Trojans could see their highest preseason ranking since the 1970s and their first preseason ranking since 2009.
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