USC’s Julian Jacobs will declare for the NBA draft, the point guard said.
Jacobs said he is “exploring options,” and he has not hired an agent, meaning he is still eligible to return to USC. Under new NCAA rules approved in January, players who declare for the NBA draft and do not hire an agent are allowed to return to school.
Jacobs will have until May 25 to remove his name from consideration. If he returns, he will be a senior.
Jacobs’ departure would be the most significant blow yet to a USC roster that showed more promise than the program has in years.
USC has already lost three players to transfer in the last eight days. First, forwards Darion Clark and Malik Martin said they intended to transfer. On Monday, guard Katin Reinhardt, who started more than half of USC’s games last season, announced his plan to transfer.
Reinhardt’s vacancy, though significant, can be filled by incoming talent. USC will add Shaqquan Aaron, a transfer from Louisville, and two recruits to the backcourt.
Jacobs, whose decision was first reported by The Vertical, would represent a more serious loss.
Jacobs was a leader for a talented but inexperienced team. He played 31 minutes per game, second only to fellow point guard Jordan McLaughlin. He averaged 11.6 points per game (third on the team) and 4.9 rebounds (second).
His 5.5 assists per game led the Pac-12 Conference.
USC’s other four starters in the NCAA tournament — guards McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart and forwards Bennie Boatwright and Nikola Jovanovic — were all underclassman.