Adem Bona withdraws from NBA Draft for another year with UCLA men’s basketball
Freshman forward Adem Bona rises for a layup. Bona will withdraw his name from the 2023 NBA Draft and return to UCLA men’s basketball for his sophomore season. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
May 31, 2023 9:14 a.m.
This post was updated May 31 at 10:48 p.m.
NBA teams will have to wait at least one more year for a shot at drafting Adem Bona.
Bona will withdraw his name from the 2023 NBA Draft and return to UCLA men’s basketball for the 2023-2024 season, he told ESPN on Wednesday morning. The forward is the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and represents the lone returning member of the Bruins’ starting five after junior guard Jaylen Clark announced later Wednesday afternoon that he did not withdraw his name from the draft process.
“We are all very excited about Adem continuing his career in Westwood,” said coach Mick Cronin in an emailed statement. “Adem is a vibrant, high-character young man who we all love being around every day. He improved immensely during his freshman season, showing his toughness and love for his team by competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could.”
Bona’s return will buoy a UCLA roster that had begun to sink in the early stages of the offseason.
Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., freshman guard Amari Bailey and redshirt senior guard Tyger Campbell all bid goodbye to Westwood in hopes of pursuing professional careers. But with Bona coming back for year two as a Bruin, UCLA will retain its starting center and defensive anchor.
Bona started almost every game at center for UCLA last season before sustaining a shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball in the Pac-12 tournament. He was limited to 22.9 minutes per night across the season despite being a starter, but he averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He shined on the defensive end as the conference’s fourth-best shot-blocker, earning a spot on the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
With Bona sidelined down the stretch, UCLA faltered in the Pac-12 championship game and bowed out in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament as Gonzaga forward Drew Timme went for 36 points and 13 rebounds against the Bona-less Bruins.
The postseason injury for Bona was later revealed to be a torn labrum that required surgery, but the forward is expected to be ready to go by October, ESPN reported in April.
UCLA’s new-look lineup next season will feature a bevy of international recruits, including a potential running mate for Bona in 7-foot-3 Spanish center Aday Mara. Should Mara’s reported interest in the Bruins be parlayed into a commitment, UCLA could toy with a two-big lineup or bolster a center rotation that lacked depth last season.
Bona – a former five-star recruit and 6-foot-10 forward – was projected to be a second-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft had he not withdrawn his name. But with his physical tools and another collegiate season under his belt, he could make a push to be one of the first bigs off the board in 2024.
“Adem wants to develop further, which will help him have a long NBA career, and he wisely used this pre-draft process,” Cronin said. “We are going to see great things from Adem next season, and we also appreciate his loyalty to UCLA.”