Thursday, January 23

Kris Wilkes withdraws from NBA Draft, to return to UCLA men’s basketball

Kris Wilkes will return to Westwood for another year after pulling out of the 2018 NBA Draft. The rising sophomore was the Bruins’ second leading scorer last season and shot 35 percent from 3. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

The Bruins are getting a major piece back for next season.

Forward Kris Wilkes is officially returning to UCLA men’s basketball, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported Tuesday. The rising sophomore entered the 2018 NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent in April.

Wilkes averaged 13.7 points per game on 35 percent shooting from 3 his freshman year at UCLA, starting every game except the team’s First Four loss to St. Bonaventure’s. Wilkes had a 20.0 player efficiency rating during conference play, but he ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in turnover percentage.

Wilkes’ return gives coach Steve Alford a major piece on the wing to add to the mix for his 2018-2019 squad. The Bruins’ top-two recruits – five-star center Moses Brown and four-star forward Shareef O’Neal – both play down low, so without Wilkes, they were going to be thin at the small forward position.

UCLA now has Wilkes, rising redshirt junior guard Prince Ali and incoming four-star freshman guards Jules Bernard and David Singleton on the perimeter. With the depth and talent they have at the wing positions, the Bruins will have a chance to lead the conference in 3-point percentage for a third consecutive season.

Wilkes was one of three Bruins to receive an invite to the NBA Draft Combine in early May. In his scrimmage at the combine, the wing scored 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 27 minutes of action.

Guard Jaylen Hands – Wilkes’ fellow five-star classmate – also entered the draft without an agent in April. He has until Wednesday night to remove himself from the draft and return to school.

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Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on for the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment as well. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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