The photo showed a basketball crowd full of cheering fans wearing USC gear. Some had their hands up in celebration. On the bottom stood forward Chimezie Metu. On his Instagram account, he captioned the snapshot, "Year 3 coming soon..."
With that, Metu announced he would return to USC, putting off the NBA draft for at least one more season.
One year after the Trojans saw a wave of players leave in the off-season, Metu’s return registers as a significant win for coach Andy Enfield. Metu, who will be a junior, won the Pac-12 Conference's most-improved player award last season. The Trojans are expected to return a deep and talented backcourt, but 6-foot-11 Metu would’ve been difficult to replace inside.
With him in the lineup, the Trojans will have more talent than they have had in years, enough to at least challenge the conference’s top teams. Oregon, Arizona and UCLA, last season’s top three teams, will all undergo major roster turnover.
Metu was considered USC’s best prospect for June’s draft. But this year’s class was deep, and Metu was not a lock for the first round.
Three USC players have already declared for the NBA draft: forward Bennie Boatwright and guards Elijah Stewart and Shaqquan Aaron. None have hired an agent, meaning all retain the option to return to USC.
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand