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USC basketball: Nikola Vucevic will enter the NBA draft, sign with an agent, forgoing his senior season at USC

March 25, 2011 |  4:12 pm

Vucevic1_300 USC junior forward Nikola Vucevic announced Friday afternoon that he'll forgo his senior season, sign with an agent and enter the NBA draft.

His announcement came at the Galen Center before a small group of reporters and his teammates. Vucevic, dressed in a suit, sat at a table with USC Coach Kevin O'Neill at his side.

"I just felt like it was the right time," said the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Montenegro native who averaged 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds this season.

Vucevic said he will sign with agent Rade Filipovich of BDA Sports Management. Filipovich said he has known Vucevic's father, Borislav, for more than 30 years. Vucevic's father played professionally overseas.  

Vucevic, who earned All-Pacific 10 Conference honors this season after being named the league's most improved player last season, told O'Neill on Wednesday that he wanted to forgo his senior season and sign with an agent. 

"I just feel like if you do something, you have to go into it 100%," Vucevic said of his intent to sign with an agent. 

O'Neill has said he hasn't spent a great deal of time trying to "recruit" Vucevic to come back to USC.

"I want to make it clear that at no point did I try to talk Nik out of going to the NBA," O'Neill said.

O'Neill, who has a decade of coaching experience in the NBA, said he has been in contact with various NBA officials and that the discussions of where Vucevic could be drafted are "all over the board."

O'Neill has said that if Vucevic returns, USC would be "extremely good" next season and that Vucevic could be an All-American. If Vucevic doesn't come back, O'Neill said, "We'll be about like this year."

The Trojans finished 19-15 overall and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Virginia Commonwealth.

The Trojans will lose a lot in the middle with the departure of Vucevic and senior forward Alex Stepheson, who is also 6-10. They hope to replace them with transfers James Blasczyk (7-1), Dewayne Dedmon (7-0), and Aaron Fuller (6-6).

Vucevic is aided by the fact that, overall, this upcoming NBA draft is expected to have one of its weakest classes in years. One question, though, is whether there will be a lockout. 

"If there is a lockout," Vucevic said, "I’m from Europe so I have a chance to go and play overseas."

RELATED:

Kemba Walker is the star of this NCAA tournament

UConn ends San Diego State's most successful season

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Nikola Vucevic in action against Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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