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USC REPORT

Young Puts NBA on Back Burner

January 23, 2006|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

A lopsided loss to UCLA may be cause for some rejoicing among USC fans.

Trojan sophomore swingman Nick Young, a candidate to declare early for the NBA draft, said Sunday that he would play for Coach Tim Floyd for at least one more year after USC's 66-45 loss Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

"I just don't like losing, and I haven't won yet in Pauley Pavilion, even in high school," Young said. "I have to get one victory in there, so that's my motivation."

Did Wednesday's defeat make a difference in Young's thinking about his draft status?

"It made a big difference," he said.

Young and sophomore guard Gabe Pruitt are projected as first-round selections in a 2007 mock draft on nbadraft.net, but that forecast might be a year off when it comes to Pruitt.

"Right now I'm just looking to stay and do my last two years here at SC, graduate here," Pruitt said. "After that, if I can go on and play in the NBA, then I'll do that."

The only other Trojan who might draw interest in this year's draft is junior guard Lodrick Stewart, who did not practice Sunday. Floyd said Stewart was sick.

Stewart told The Times recently that he would wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to forgo his final season of eligibility and turn pro.

"That's every kid's dream, so I won't sit here and lie and say I'm not thinking about it. But I've just got to be focused on this year and helping my team get as far as possible," Stewart said. "I want to get to the [NCAA] tournament and make noise in the tournament. That's my dream, to at least say I played in the NCAA tournament."

Floyd has said that he will not address his players' pro prospects until after the season.

Young ranks sixth in the Pacific 10 Conference in scoring (16.8 points per game) and ninth in rebounding (6.1). Pruitt ranks seventh in scoring (16.0), third in steals (2.2) and third in three-point field goals made (2.4 per game). Stewart ranks 16th in scoring (12.2).

All three players cited the leadership of Floyd, a highly touted incoming recruiting class and the opportunity to be the first team to play in the new on-campus Galen Center as reasons to stay.

"Playing under Coach Floyd for another two years, that will help us out," Pruitt said. "He's been there [in the NBA], he knows what it's like, and what we need to do."

Said Young: "I love Coach Floyd. Being under him is just making me get noticed, so the more I'm under him, the better for me."

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