Tahj Eaddy will forego final year at USC and declare for NBA draft

Tahj Eaddy will forego final year at USC and declare for NBA draft

After a single season at USC in which he helped the Trojans to their first Elite Eight in two decades, point guard Tahj Eaddy is turning pro.

The senior guard, who transferred from Santa Clara to USC last spring, announced his intent to declare for the NBA draft Thursday in an Instagram post. He’ll forgo the extra year of eligibility provided by the NCAA in hopes of being drafted this summer.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to create relationships and memories with so many amazing people here at USC,” Eaddy wrote. “Thank you to Coach Enfield and the entire staff for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special.”

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Eaddy was a crucial cog in the Trojans’ stellar 2020-21 season, averaging 13.6 points per game and earning All-Pac-12 second team honors. But his future at the NBA level is hardly assured. Barring a late rise into the second round, the point guard is unlikely to be drafted and instead might have to first navigate the fringes of the league in search of an opportunity.

At 24, however, the clock already was ticking on Eaddy’s window to go pro. He understands, he told The Times in February, that his path to the league “is going to be what it’s going to be” but also that “there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be playing in the NBA someday.”

A few years ago, it probably seemed unlikely that Eaddy would become the second-leading scorer on an Elite Eight team. He was too small to be recruited by major programs out of high school, and opted instead to take a prep school year, which led him to Southwest Missouri State. From there, he transferred to Santa Clara, before landing with USC, which was desperate for backcourt help from the NCAA transfer portal.

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The one-year marriage paid major dividends for both. As USC starting point guard Ethan Anderson sat out for a month with back pain, Eaddy stepped into the role of floor general and never relinquished it. He quickly emerged as the best three-point shooter, 39%, on a team devoid of many other long-range options.

When Eaddy finally settled in, USC took off, winning 13 of 14 games at one point and finishing just a few percentage points away from a Pac-12 title. In the regular season finale against UCLA, Eaddy hit a corner three-pointer in the final seconds to beat the Bruins.

His decision to leave was expected, but now USC finds itself in search of another floor general. Anderson seems to be the obvious option to fill that role. USC could also search for a point guard in the transfer portal, however, in hopes of finding another difference-maker as it did in Eaddy.

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