Young declares for NBA draft

After leading the Trojans to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years, Nick Young announced Tuesday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2007 NBA Draft.

Young made the announcement at a news conference on campus.

He leaves USC in sixth place on the Trojans' all-time scoring list, with 1,486 points in 96 career games and his inspired play this past season helped lead the Trojan basketball program back to prominence.

Plenty of thought went into this decision, but in the end, the professional lure of the NBA was simply too much for Young to turn down.

"I want to buy my mom her first house," Young told the Associated Press. "That's one of the main reasons I made this decision. It was tough for us. They've been behind me all the way. The opportunity was there to help them have a better life."

Young's departure is a fairly serious blow to a Trojan squad looking to improve on their Sweet 16 appearance in last season's tournament. His 17.5 points and 33.2 minutes per game led the team, while his 4.6 rebounds per contest ranked second. He would have been a veteran presence on a 2007 team looking for a Pac-10, and perhaps, a national title.

While the Trojans must regroup after the news of his departure, Young should benefit nicely. His stellar season has all but guaranteed him a spot in the first round of this summer's draft and the future two-guard could go as high as inside the top 15.

Trojan head coach Tim Floyd completely understood the star's decision, saying, "Nick has played well enough to receive consideration from the NBA. He has our support and we wish him the best."

Young will hire an agent, making his decision to enter the draft final.

He said that he will walk the campus of USC again when he returns to finish his degree. But as for running the floor of the Galen Center, unfortunately, Trojan fans have seen the last of Nick Young.

It's easy to sit back and say that Young should have returned for his senior season to sharpen his skills and make a serious postseason run with an improved team. But realistically, the timing seems right for Young to jump to the professional ranks. With O.J. Mayo incoming and Taj Gibson returning, Young wouldn't have been the offensive focus that he was this season and his draft stock could have actually taken a hit because of it. Plus, it's just too difficult for young athletes to turn down a promise of being drafted in the first round of any sport.

Selfishly, it would have been fun to see Young wearing cardinal and gold this upcoming season. But it's going to be tough not to be completely satisfied watching "Noodles" donning the colors of his future NBA team this fall.

Erik McKinney is a columnist for WeAreSC.com and he can be reached at erik.mckinney@gmail.com.


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