USC freshman Porter hiring agent, entering draft

Southern California freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. has decided to hire an agent and declare for the 2019 NBA draft.

"I will be declaring for the 2019 NBA draft and I will be signing with Roc Nation Sports," Porter told ESPN.

Porter, the No. 40 recruit in the 2019 class, wasn't thought of as a potential one-and-done prospect upon committing to USC out of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. However, he began to draw buzz as a lottery-level talent almost immediately upon landing in Los Angeles thanks to impressive showings in open gyms against NBA players.

"Since I was little, rankings never mattered to me, I just played," Porter said. "I don't really know who is in the draft, but as far as ranking myself among people, I feel like I am confident in my skill to compete with anybody and everybody."

After an impressive start to the season, including high-profile games against the likes of Vanderbilt and Texas Tech, Porter's momentum slowed when he suffered a thigh injury in late November that ultimately sidelined him for two months. Porter, who averaged 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from 3, is No. 14 in the ESPN 100 draft rankings. He played the entire college season as an 18-year old, making him one of the youngest prospects projected to be drafted.

"Starting off freshman year, I really wasn't focused on the NBA draft, but now that the season is over and I see the opportunity that I have, I just want to pursue it for my family, my friends and everyone that has been supporting me," Porter said.

A number of NBA scouts told ESPN throughout the season that they consider Porter a top-five talent in this draft due to his combination of size, strength, ballhandling, shot-making prowess and long-term upside. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he is big enough to defend small forwards yet has the playmaking and creativity of a guard, giving him unique versatility in the modern NBA game. But Porter's uneven freshman campaign, in which he came off the bench almost exclusively and never seemed to find a rhythm due to the time he missed, his lack of high-level experience and his at-times questionable decision-making gives him plenty to prove heading into the pre-draft process.

"During the NBA workouts, I just want to show the NBA teams that I have a strong work ethic and I am very versatile and I am very committed to the game and that I just love it. That's all I want to do," Porter said.

"I just want to thank the Trojan family for being there for me, through the injuries, everything I battled this year," he added. "It was a great growth experience and a learning experience for me, and I just love the support that I have. Of course, I want to thank my mom and my family for being there since day one. And just being my support system through it all."