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Evan Mobley going pro, announces with “rookie card” NFT

Evan Mobley announced Friday morning that he will indeed set out to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a professional basketball player. The 7-foot center who helped USC to the Elite 8 this past season will be remembered as one of USC’s great basketball players and could now become the highest Trojan ever taken in the NBA draft.

Right now, that honor belongs to O.J. Mayo, another one-and-done Trojan who was taken third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2008 NBA Draft. Mayo was also part of a three-year run of first-round picks out of USC, something that will be matched this year, with Mobley joining Kevin Porter Jr. in 2019 and Onyeka Okongwu in 2020.

Mobley swept the conference season awards this season, earning Pac-12 player of the year, Pac-12 defensive player of the year and Pac-12 freshman of the year. He was the first Pac-12 player to do so and only the second major conference player to do so, after Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

Mobley led the Trojans in a number of categories this season, including 33.8 minutes played per game, 16.4 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, 2.9 blocked shots per game and shooting 57.8% from the floor. He finished second in steals per game and fourth in assists per game.

His announcement that he will go pro is an interesting one, as he did so by releasing a “rookie card” non-fungible token (NFT) — a one-of-one digital token — via an auction that will begin today and run until Monday at 3 pm. Mobley will include a signed USC jersey, a signed professional jersey, two tickets to a game during his rookie year and a meet and greet following the game.

Mobley is potentially the first or second pick in the upcoming draft, as he and Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham possibly jockey for the top spot.

Mobley is the second key player to announce that he will not return to the Trojans next season, joining guard Tahj Eaddy. Forward Chevez Goodwin will return and USC is still awaiting word from guard Isaiah White and forward Isaiah Mobley.

He’ll be remembered for plenty during this season, but it’s tough to top the late-game dunk against Oregon to put an exclamation point on a blowout win over the Ducks in the Sweet 16.

Mobley scored in double figures in all but two of the 33 games this season and had highs of 26 in Pac-12 tournament games against Utah and Colorado. Mobley posted double-doubles in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, in wins against Drake and Kansas and had six games with at least five blocked shots.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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