Freshman GG Jackson, the leading scorer for USC this past season, and guard Meechie Johnson announced Friday they are entering their names into the NBA Draft this summer. Jackson has been projected as a first round pick and would not be expected to return to USC. Johnson is more of a long shot and is leaving open the possibility of returning for another season.
“I want to thank God and my family for always being there for me,” Jackson said in a statement released by the University. “I also want to thank coach Paris and the rest of the staff at South Carolina for giving me the opportunity to live my dream playing in my home city and state. To Gamecock Nation, the best fans in the country, thank you for your unwavering support. I am a Gamecock for life. The next step in my journey is here, and I will be declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft.”
Despite being the youngest player in the country, the 18-year-old Jackson led the Gamecocks in scoring and finished ninth in the SEC with 15.4 points per game, and he added 5.9 rebounds per game. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
His scoring average was the fifth-most in the nation by a freshman. He led the team in scoring 17 times, scoring in double-figures a team-best 25 times in 32 games played. His 11, 20-point games were the most by a Gamecock freshman since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1991-92.
“This is a very exciting day for GG and his family as they begin preparing for the next chapter in his career,” said head coach Lamont Paris in the statement. “I, too, am incredibly excited for GG and all that lies ahead for him. GG is and will always be a Gamecock, and I could not be more supportive of his decision to declare for the NBA Draft.”
Jackson, who starred for Ridge View High School in Columbia, was ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2024 class before reclassifying to the Class of 2023. The decision to decommit from North Carolina and sign with USC was quite a coup for first-year head coach Lamont Paris and the hometown Gamecocks.
Johnson transferred to USC from Ohio State and proved to be one of the Gamecocks most dangerous outside shooters. The 6-3 guard averaged 13 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game this season. He shot 33% from three, 35% overall and 76% from the free-throw line.
Jackson and Jackson become the seventh and eighth players to announce plans to leave the program since the end of the season.