USC Star Chimezie Metu Won't Play in NIT to Avoid Injury Before 2018 NBA Draft

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2018

Arizona's Dusan Ristic, left, looks to pass the ball as Southern California's Chimezie Metu defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Pac-12 men's tournament final Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

USC coach Andy Enfield announced forward Chimezie Metu will not play in the NIT to avoid injury as he prepares to enter the 2018 NBA draft.

"Chimezie Metu has made a personal decision not to participate in the NIT as a precautionary measure to eliminate the risk of injury leading up to the NBA draft," Enfield said in a statement.

Metu, a junior, led the Trojans in points (15.7) and rebounds (7.4) during the regular season. His year was embroiled in turmoil after being named in the FBI probe into college basketball corruption. Documents linked him to a $2,000 payment from Andy Miller's sports agency, but USC later cleared him to play following an investigation.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Metu told reporters. "And nobody that I am associated with did anything wrong."

Associate head coach Tony Bland was fired and forward De'Anthony Melton was suspended for the season as a result of the FBI probe. Melton later left the school.

Metu sitting out is not much of a surprise given USC's frustration with not being selected for the NCAA tournament. Enfield said it was not his decision, but one made by USC administration, that led to the Trojans being in the NIT. He left the possibility open that top players would sit out to avoid injury.

"The feeling is the same," Enfield told reporters. "It doesn't go away in a day. Because we should be in the NCAA tournament. We deserve to be, and we're one of the best at-large teams out there."

Enfield did not say whether other players would sit out if USC continues in the tournament.

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