Shaqquan Aaron withdraws from NBA draft, returns to USC

first_imgRedshirt junior guard Shaqquan Aaron has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to USC for the 2017-18 season.Head coach Andy Enfield confirmed Aaron’s decision on Wednesday — the last day for underclassmen to withdraw from this year’s draft — as the Seattle native will remain in Los Angeles for his second season in Cardinal and Gold. Aaron transferred to USC from Louisville in 2015, sitting out the subsequent season, and he turned heads with an impressive debut campaign in 2017, including a 23-point effort off the bench against UCLA to lead the Trojans to an upset in January.His breakout against the Bruins earned Aaron Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, but he struggled as the season wore on, failing to tally a point in any of USC’s NCAA Tournament games.Aaron surprised many by becoming the first member of Enfield’s squad to declare for the NBA Draft in March. Junior forward Bennie Boatwright and senior guard Elijah Stewart followed suit, but all three ultimately decided to return to the Galen Center for at least one more year. Aaron, Boatwright and Stewart all declared without an agent, signaling that they would likely come back to school, but the official announcement will come as a relief to many Trojan fans nonetheless.With the trio’s return, the team now finds itself in a pleasantly unfamiliar position. Just four seasons after Enfield took over a floundering USC program in 2013, many experts have projected the Trojans as a preseason top-15 team, which would mark the first time since 1978 that the squad has achieved this feat.USC graduated a single scholarship player this year, redshirt senior forward Charles Buggs, meaning the Trojans will retain the core that guided them agonizingly close to a Sweet 16 berth in last season’s NCAA Tournament. Junior forward Chimezie Metu, considered an NBA prospect if he had entered the draft this year, will be back, as well as senior guard Jordan McLaughlin. McLaughlin actually graduated USC this spring, earning his bachelor’s degree in three years, but he still holds one more year of NCAA eligibility.Last season’s impressive freshman corps will also look to take another step forward in 2017. Guards De’Anthony Melton and Jonah Mathews carved out important roles during their first seasons at USC, and forward Nick Rakocevic had a coming-out party on the national stage during the Trojans’ First Four contest, as he sparked the team’s double-digit comeback against Providence to push USC into March Madness.Enfield also brings a highly touted incoming recruiting class into the fold, highlighted by forward Charles O’Bannon Jr. — who turned down offers from Pac-12 rivals Arizona and UCLA as well as national powerhouse Kansas to sign for USC. Fellow ESPN-100 forward Jordan Usher will join O’Bannon Jr. as a freshman this fall, and 6-foot-11 center Victor Uyaelunmo rounds out Enfield’s 2017 class.Enfield earned a contract extension through 2023 for his efforts in rebuilding the Trojan program, and he will look to take the squad to even greater heights next season.last_img

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