Moses Brown may be on his way out of Westwood.
UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin appeared on The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday morning and said he believes the freshman 7-footer will be following guards Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes to the 2019 NBA Draft.
Brown has potential, but his omission from a majority of mock drafts could indicate that scouts are worried about his NBA readiness after just one collegiate season. The former five-star recruit showed promise in his first year, averaging 9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, but he struggled to make an impact on a night-to-night basis.
Brown was held to 10 points or fewer in 18 of the 31 games he appeared in, and he failed to log over 15 minutes in each of the Bruins’ final three games. Brown also shot just 35.2% from the free throw line – 17.1% below UCLA’s next worst free throw shooter with at least 10 attempts.
Despite working to add muscle over the past year, Brown still measures in at 7-foot-1 and just 245 pounds. Due to his lighter frame, Brown struggled to match up with larger centers and often lost playing time because of it.
Given Brown’s inability to score from outside the paint and lack of strength, his draft stock will not be as high as some of the other prospects who have had similar builds in the past, such as former Texas Longhorns center Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba – who owned a 27.5 shooting percentage from 3 on 51 attempts and a 7-foot-10 wingspan coming out of college – measured in slightly below Brown at seven feet tall and just 225 pounds, but he was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.
While Brown does not appear at all on most mock drafts, a scout that was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in February said a team could be willing to take a late first-round flier on Brown depending on how he performs in team workouts.
As for UCLA, Brown’s expected departure will leave a hole at the center position, but it will also open the door for the other young players on the roster. Rising redshirt sophomore forwards Cody Riley and Jalen Hill will likely see boosts in their minutes, while rising redshirt freshman forward Shareef O’Neal will have less of a logjam to navigate through as he returns from injury.
However, none of those three players are true centers, which means Cronin may have to resort to small ball until he has someone to fill Brown’s role.
Brown has until Sunday to decide whether or not to commit to the draft.