USC’s Isaiah Mobley feels he’s a modern NBA fit in different roles…
Adam Grosbard (OC Register) — A year ago, USC opted to withdraw from the NBA draft for his junior season at USC. The power forward had gone through the process, and received a to-do list between then and the next summer to prove he was ready for his professional opportunity.
Show consistency, especially as a primary scorer for the Trojans. Show versatility. And show that his sudden surge as a 3-pointer shooter during USC’s Elite Eight run was not a fluke.
Now, with the NBA draft on Thursday, Mobley feels he has accomplished what was asked of him by scouts and talent evaluators.
“I can play a lot of roles and in the modern-day NBA,” Mobley said over the phone this week.
USC’s team success in 2022 did not reach the same heights as Mobley’s sophomore season. The Trojans won 26 games and were the second-to-last team in the country to lose a game, but were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Miami.
But Mobley took advantage of his opportunities, leading USC in scoring, rebounding and blocks, setting or matching career highs in all three categories. And he upped his 3-point attempts from 1.2 to 3.8 per game while making 35.2% of the attempts.
The ability for a big man to stretch the floor is critical for getting an opportunity in the NBA. Early in his career, it appeared like Mobley was limited to being a back-to-the-basket scorer after shooting 8-for-28 from 3-point range as a freshman.
But his 4-for-5 shooting performance against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore combined with his steady shooting as a junior put those concerns to bed.
So when it came time to sit down with his inner circle and make the NBA draft decision, Mobley was ready to hire an agent and make his departure from college official.
“I just felt confident with my abilities at the next level,” Mobley said. “I thought I could get a good opportunity at the pro level, and that’s the dream.”
Last year’s experience has helped Mobley feel more comfortable during his auditions. He knows what teams are looking for, and he knows what to expect from workouts.
He’s worked out for five or six teams, though he declined to name them.
“All of them have gone pretty well, drawn some teams’ interest,” Mobley said. “So can’t complain.”
Lately, he’s gotten the chance to enjoy some family time. His brother Evan — who beat Isaiah to the NBA by a season — turned 21 on Saturday, then they celebrated Father’s Day with their dad, Eric, a USC assistant, on Sunday.
For draft night, Mobley will be at a family friend’s house waiting for the phone to ring. But as he looks back on his USC career, he’s secure in the legacy he left at his alma mater.
“Mostly just the winning,” Mobley said when asked about what he’ll remember most. “We won from my freshman year all the way to my junior year. Got to the Elite Eight, had 27 wins. It was just super cool with all that, so mainly that.”
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