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USC's Downey, Archie are on different paths toward NBA

Dominique Archie and Devan Downey each walked into Colonial Life Arena on Monday night for the last time as college students. Both are about to embark on pro basketball careers a year after deciding to return to school.

After that, however, their stories and paths diverge.

Downey, one of the top players in USC history, has been working out in earnest, attending one camp and lining up workouts with NBA teams.

Archie, however, is in a holding pattern. His surgically repaired knee is still healing, but it probably will not be healed in time to try out for any teams before the June draft.

The 6-foot-7 forward tried to get an extra year of college eligibility, but he was turned down by the NCAA a few weeks ago. Speaking publicly for the first time since that happened, Archie said he had been "ready for both" possibilities and was taking his uncertain future in stride.

"I'm kind of lining some things up now," Archie said before the Gamecock Gala, an event for all Gamecock athletes. "There are no guarantees, but I've got a couple possibilities."

Archie had surgery on the knee in January, about a month after the injury derailed his season after five games. He still hopes to be healthy enough to work out for teams but added "worst-case, probably not."

NBA teams should be familiar with Archie, who went through the draft process last year. But he was unsure whether it would help him.

"Yeah I would think so, but it's not how I feel about them, it's how they feel about me," Archie said.

That probably puts Archie - who started every game of his Gamecock career before the injury - on a path to an overseas start. The same could be the case for Downey, whose height (5-9) could overshadow his standout collegiate career.

But Downey still has a chance to change minds through workouts. He said he had a couple lined up with NBA teams, but he didn't want to divulge which until firm dates were set.

Earlier this month, Downey participated in the Portsmouth Invitational, a camp for seniors.

"I don't really think I played great. I played solid," he said. "I didn't really hurt myself, I didn't help myself."

Downey said his mantra was "just go out and be me."

He thinks his stock is helped by the success this season of some smaller rookies, like Brandon Jennings (6-1) and Stephen Curry (6-3). So he has been emphasizing his speed and point guard skills.

Last year at this time, Downey and Archie were examining their options. Each declared for the draft without hiring an agent, then pulled their name out before the deadline.

"Now it's kind of a sense of urgency," Downey said. "Last year I knew I had the option of coming back to school. But now, it's kind of like all or nothing."