Okongwu declares for 2020 NBA Draft

USC freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu declared for the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft in a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan)

USC freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft, he announced in a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday.

“I want to take the next step when the opportunity presents itself,” Okongwu said. “With careful consideration, I am announcing that I am declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft. I appreciate everyone who has helped me get to this point.”

Okongwu will enter the draft as one of the most highly touted freshmen in the country. He led the Pac-12 in field goal percentage and finished second in the conference in blocks per game. Okongwu’s efforts helped the Trojans secure a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament as a No. 4 seed, and USC likely would have earned a spot in March Madness for the first time since 2017.

“My freshman campaign at [USC] has been nothing short of spectacular,” Okongwu said. “To the fans at Galen, thank you for the consistent love and support every time I stepped on the court.”

Okongwu is expected to be the fourth Trojan drafted into the NBA in the past three years, with De’Anthony Melton and Chimezie Metu drafted in 2018 and Kevin Porter Jr. drafted in 2019. The Chino native is also expected to be the first lottery pick out of USC since DeMar DeRozan in 2009.

“To [head coach Andy] Enfield, [associate head coach Jason] Hart, [assistant coaches Chris] Capko and [Eric] Mobley, I want to thank you for letting a kid from Chino into your program,” Okongwu said. “To my brothers on the team, the love and bond I have for you guys is real and it’s something I will always keep close to me.”

Okongwu will also join former Trojans Dewayne Dedmon, Taj Gibson, Jordan McLaughlin and Nikola Vucevic in the world’s most premier basketball league.

Though the NBA regular season has been postponed indefinitely, the draft lottery and draft itself are both still set to take place as scheduled.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be televised May 19 from Chicago, Ill. and the subsequent NBA Draft will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. June 25.