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Amari Bailey declares for 2023 NBA Draft, ends career with UCLA men’s basketball

Freshman guard Amari Bailey goes up for a layup in a game against Colorado. Bailey averaged 11.2 points per game, one of four Bruins to eclipse the double-digit scoring mark. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Sam Settleman

April 13, 2023 1:17 p.m.

This post was updated April 13 at 1:50 p.m. 

Both members of the Bruins’ starting backcourt have declared for the NBA Draft.

UCLA men’s basketball freshman guard Amari Bailey is declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft, which he announced Thursday on his Instagram. Bailey’s mother told ESPN that he is not just testing the draft waters and that his UCLA career is over.  

“Since I was 3 years old, basketball has been my first and only love,” Bailey wrote in his Instagram post. “I have decided to bet on myself and turn my dreams into reality and enter the 2023 NBA Draft.”

Bailey’s decision comes one day after redshirt senior guard Tyger Campbell similarly announced his intentions to pursue the NBA Draft.

Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and junior guard Jaylen Clark already announced the same earlier this offseason, leaving freshman forward Adem Bona as the lone player yet to make an initial decision on his future next season.

Bailey was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and a day-one starter for coach Mick Cronin, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the guard in his first year with the blue and gold. 

In UCLA’s four nonconference games against Power Five opponents, Bailey was limited to 3.3 points per game while shooting 21.7% from the field. 

“Amari improved immensely this season as a basketball player,” Cronin said in a statement released Thursday. “He learned how to use his skill and elite athleticism in an efficient manner. By the end of our season, Amari was playing as well as any guard in the country.” 

He missed seven games with a foot injury toward the beginning of Pac-12 play but picked up momentum from there. A breakout 24-point performance against Oregon State in February highlighted Bailey’s regular season.

But it was the postseason where the freshman made his mark. 

Bailey poured 26 points into the Bruins’ first game of the Pac-12 tournament against Colorado and scored at least 14 points in each of their three NCAA Tournament games, ultimately averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and three assists per game across six postseason contests.

In UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss to Gonzaga, Bailey drilled a would-be game-winning 3 with seconds to play before the Bulldogs hit a dagger of their own.  

“This has been an incredible year,” Bailey wrote in his post. “To my brothers, from the ucla runs to the sweet 16, I will never forget the moments we shared throughout the year.”

Bailey is currently projected to be a second-round pick in the NBA Draft.

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Sam Settleman | Sports editor
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
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