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Young is expected to declare for NBA draft

April 15, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The chance to fulfill a lifelong dream will supersede the opportunity to play alongside a star-laden recruiting class for USC junior swingman Nick Young, who is expected to announce Tuesday afternoon at the Galen Center that he will make himself available for the NBA draft.

The two-time All-Pacific 10 Conference selection who averaged 17.5 points last season and was the driving force behind the Trojans' first Sweet 16 appearance in six seasons is expected to sign with an agent, a move that would preclude him from returning for his senior season, said a source close to the situation.

Young continually vacillated on his draft status over the last five months, saying in November after USC's signing of standout guard O.J. Mayo that he was "99.1%" committed to returning for his senior season because the Trojans' depth would be "like the football team."

In January, Young said he would forgo his senior season and turn pro if he were assured of becoming a first-round draft pick. But after the Trojans advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament last month, Young said there was "a big chance" he would come back next season.

Young, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound Los Angeles native who attended Reseda Cleveland High, did not return phone messages seeking comment.

He is projected as a mid- to late first-round pick on two NBA draft websites.

"I think his chances are fairly high that he could be picked in the first round," said one NBA scout. "I think the kind of finish he had to the season, there's a very good chance he would go somewhere in the 20s."

By entering the draft, Young would give up the chance to play alongside star recruits Mayo and Davon Jefferson.

USC junior guard Gabe Pruitt said last week that he had not decided whether he would make himself available for the draft.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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