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US college star of Nigerian heritage opts for NBA Draft

University of Southern California teen forward Onyeka Okongwu announced Wednesday he is declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft and ending his college career - Jayne Kamin-Oncea / ©AFP
University of Southern California teen forward Onyeka Okongwu announced Wednesday he is declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft and ending his college career - Jayne Kamin-Oncea / ©AFP

(AFP)

Onyeka Okongwu, a 19-year-old freshman star forward for the University of Southern California, said Wednesday he is entering the 2020 NBA Draft and ending his college career.

The 6-foot-9 (2.06m) and 245-pound (111kg) son of Nigerian parents led his hometown Trojans with 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game to become a top NBA prospect.

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“What a ride it’s been,” Okongwu tweeted. “However, all good things must come to an end. I want to take the next step when the opportunity presents itself.

“With careful consideration, I am announcing that I am declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.”

Okongwu, a high school teammate of the famed Ball brothers, also had 1.2 steals and 1.1 assists a game for USC on his way to All-Pacific 12 Conference honors.

NBA scouts have praised Okongwu’s defensive skills and his scoring touch, which figures to make him a high selection whenever the next wave of recruits are taken by NBA clubs.

The NBA season was shut down two weeks ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, so exactly when the draft will be staged is uncertain.

Teams who fail to make the NBA playoffs will take part in the NBA Draft Lottery to determine an exact order for clubs to select newcomers.

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