Trojans’ Young is ready for a new home

Times Staff Writer

Having helped build a solid foundation for the USC basketball program, Nick Young was ready to deliver a more personal batch of bricks and mortar.

The 6-foot-6 junior swingman announced Tuesday that he was forgoing his senior season and declaring for the NBA draft, a move that will likely help him fulfill a childhood pledge.

“I’m going to buy my mom her first house,” Young said following a news conference at Heritage Hall in which he confirmed that he would hire an agent and attend the pre-draft camp next month in Orlando, Fla. “I’ve always told her since I was little that I was going to get her a house.”

Mae and Charles Young, who share an apartment and a family car, sat and smiled as their son talked about a decision that he hopes will result in him becoming the first USC player to be drafted in the first round since Houston picked Rodrick Rhodes with the 24th selection in 1997.

“I’m just trying to make a better life for my family,” said Young, who averaged 17.5 points last season and ranks sixth on USC’s all-time scoring list with 1,486 points.


Three draft-projection websites list Young as a mid- to late first-round pick, which would entail a lucrative guaranteed contract.

Lakers rookie guard Jordan Farmar, the 26th selection in the 2006 draft out of UCLA, makes $939,120 this season and will make $1,009,560 next season.

Young informed the USC assistants of his decision Friday but didn’t hear from Coach Tim Floyd, who was on the road recruiting, until Sunday. Young said it was a difficult conversation.

“He was the last person I told,” Young said. “I had to build myself up to tell him. He didn’t really want me to leave, and it was hard.... That’s why I didn’t really come up here and tear up because I got all my tears out during the week.”

Floyd was still recruiting Tuesday and did not attend the news conference, though in a statement he seemed to leave the door open for Young to return. “He will have a home here if things do not work out the way he would like with the NBA,” Floyd said in the statement.

Junior guard Gabe Pruitt, among the horde of Trojans players in attendance, said he might wait until the April 29 deadline to declare for the draft before making his decision, though he stressed that he would not hire an agent in the event he wanted to return for his senior season.

Freshman forward Taj Gibson said he thought about declaring “a lot” but has opted to return next year.

Even though Tuesday marked a milestone for Young, a two-time high school dropout whose brother, Charles Jr., was fatally shot when he was 5, he said he was not ready to celebrate.

“Not yet,” he said. “I have to wait until I put a hat on and shake somebody’s hand.”