Just as expected USC freshman guard O.J. Mayo informed school officials on Wednesday that he will declare for the NBA Draft and sign an agent, eliminating an possibility that he would return to school.

“I am so thankful for the fans and alumni at USC and around the nation that have been so supportive of me and my teammates throughout the season,” Mayo said in an interview with the Daily News. “I’d like to express my appreciation to my coaches and teammates for their support in one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. I will be entering the 2008 NBA draft. I am going to finish the semester here at USC and then focus on preparing for the NBA draft. Attending USC has been such a great experience for me and has really helped prepare me for my next step in life.”

Mayo, who by all accounts is a sure-fire lottery pick, averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his only season at USC. When he chose to attend USC, Mayo said he wanted to do for the basketball program what Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did for the football program.

“The Juice” did lead USC to a 21-12 record and third place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference, but the Trojans lost to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the end, the Trojans were unable to even repeat the success of last year’s team that ended up in the Sweet Sixteen.

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