USC guard Kobe Johnson is transferring to rival UCLA

Southern California guard Kobe Johnson (0) shoots over Arizona center Oumar Ballo.
Guard Kobe Johnson (0), right, is transferring from USC to rival UCLA. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

He hit the dagger three-pointer that solidified USC’s first win at Pauley Pavilion since 2021. Now Kobe Johnson will call that old enemy territory his new home.

The former USC forward announced his commitment to UCLA on Thursday in a rivalry role reversal.

Johnson averaged 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a junior with the Trojans. The 6-foot-6 former team captain ranked second in the Pac-12 in steals with 2.2 per game, which earned him a second consecutive Pac-12 all-defensive team honor, but took a step back offensively as he struggled with his jumper for stretches of the season that resulted in him getting sent to the bench for three games in February. He shot 31.3% from three-point range last season, a drop from his 37.7% clip as a sophomore.

After the Trojans were shut out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 by losing in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament, Johnson announced he was putting his name in the NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility and entering the transfer portal. He is UCLA’s second transfer in as many days after adding Louisville guard Skyy Clark on Wednesday.

Read more: Louisville guard Skyy Clark announces he is transferring to UCLA

Johnson had 10 points, three rebounds and four steals in USC’s win at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 24. He hit a three-pointer with 2:54 left that put the Trojans up by 11. When the final buzzer sounded, he tugged on the corners of his jersey and flaunted the three letters USC across his chest toward the UCLA crowd.

USC, which is searching for a new head coach after Andy Enfield bolted for the same position at Southern Methodist on Monday, would lose its top five scorers from last season if freshman Isaiah Collier declares for the NBA draft. The point guard who averaged 16.3 points and 4.3 assists per game is a projected first-round pick.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.