UCLA Bruins

UCLA’s Adem Bona declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Adem Bona became  the fifth UCLA player to declare for the NBA draft, although the Pac-12 freshman of the year could still return to Westwood.

The forward-center from Nigeria announced his plans on his Instagram account. Bona averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while starting 32 of 33 games last season.

“Ever since I picked up a basketball, it has always been my dream to show that I could play at the highest level,” Bona wrote. “With that being said, I have decided to declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.”

However, coach Mick Cronin said in a statement that Bona will retain his eligibility, which means he won’t be hiring an agent.

“We will support Adem through this process with the NBA,” Cronin said in a statement. “He’s still in school and he will retain his eligibility. He is rehabbing daily from his shoulder injury. We will support him and Jaylen Clark as they navigate through this process.”

Bona joins freshman Amari Bailey, seniors Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Clark in declaring for the draft. Clark, a junior, could retain his remaining eligibility if he doesn’t hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft.

The 6-foot-10 Bona finished second in the Pac-12 in overall field-goal percentage (67%) and was fourth in blocks per game (1.7). He was named to the All-Pac-12 freshman team and the league’s All-Defensive team.

Amari Bailey leaving UCLA after 1 season to enter NBA draft

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – Amari Bailey joined the exodus of UCLA players to the NBA draft.

He announced his plans on his Instagram account.

The freshman guard from Chicago started 28 of 30 games in his lone season in Westwood. He averaged 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. He also made the All-Pac-12 Tournament team.

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

Bailey scored 19 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of UCLA’s 79-76 loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 last month.

“Amari improved immensely this season as a basketball player,” coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “One area in which Amari most improved was becoming an elite defensive player. His on-the-ball pressure became a huge weapon for our team.”

Bailey joins teammates Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jaylen Clark in declaring for the draft. Campbell and Jaquez are seniors.

Clark, a junior, did not indicate whether he would hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft or retain his remaining eligibility.

UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. declares for NBA draft

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. has declared for the NBA draft, with the senior deciding to forgo an extra year of eligibility available because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaquez announced his decision Thursday on his social media accounts.

“I have fulfilled my dream of playing basketball for and graduating from UCLA,” he posted. “To all of UCLA’s fans, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your life for four years. Please know, I gave you everything that I had. My four years at UCLA have been incredible, and I’ll always be proud to be a Bruin. But I’m also excited about my future, my NBA dreams and my continued basketball growth.”

Jaquez averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 37 games while helping the Bruins to a 31-6 record this season. They lost to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after winning the school’s first Pac-12 regular-season title since 2013.

The guard-forward from nearby Camarillo was a consensus second-team All-America selection in his fourth year in Westwood. He finished eighth on UCLA’s all-time scoring list with 1,802 points and 11th in career rebounds at 842. He ranks eighth in career steals with 178 and ninth on all-time games played at 134.

“We built our program around his competitive spirit and toughness, starting four years ago,” coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “His dedication, his loyalty and his tenacity are unmatched, and I can’t wait to see him play in the NBA.”

Last week, junior guard Jaylen Clark announced he would enter the draft. However, he did not indicate whether he would hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft or retain his remaining eligibility. He has until May 31 to withdraw and be able to return to Westwood.

Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Julian Strawther’s late 3-pointer

Gonzaga's Malachi Smith
USA Today
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LAS VEGAS — Gonzaga and UCLA played one NCAA Tournament game that left the Zags’ star player bawling, and another game that stunned the Bruins.

Add another to the list. Maybe the maddest one in March yet.

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA’s Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.

“It’s moments like that you can’t make up,” said Strawther, a Las Vegas native. “Those are literally the moments you dream of. To even make a shot like that in March Madness and just to be back home in Vegas is like the cherry on top.”

The Bruins (31-6), the West Region’s No. 2 seed, stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 and took a 76-75 lead on Bailey’s 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left.

The Zags (31-5) brought the ball up the floor and Strawther stepped into a 3-pointer after a drop pass from Hunter Sallis, sending Gonzaga fans to their feet.

“As soon as it came off, it looked like it was on line,” Strawther said.

The Zags still had to sweat it out.

Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther only hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.

Campbell’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags rushing off the bench and into the Elite Eight against UConn on Saturday while leaving the Bruins disappointed again.

“Every game, try not to get too high, try not to get too low,” said UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds. “He hit a big shot and we lost.”

Strawther’s shot was reminiscent of the one Villanova’s Kris Jenkins made off a drop pass to clinch the 2016 national championship – a shot that came after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left.

There’s a reason it looked familiar.

“That’s Jay Wright’s play that he used in Villanova-Carolina, the championship,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That’s what we call it. He makes it all the time.”

It also is the latest chapter in what’s become the best West Coast rivalry in college basketball.

UCLA got the better of the teams’ first NCAA Tournament go-around, rallying from 17 points down to send the Zags out of the 2006 bracket and star Adam Morrison to the floor crying.

Jalen Suggs crushed the Bruins the last time, hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Zags to the 2021 national championship game.

“I can’t even describe what he did. It’s crazy,” Gonzaga’s Drew Timme said of Strawther’s game-winner. “It’s just like that Jalen shot, man.”

Timme had 36 points for his record 10th NCAA Tournament game with 20 points.

The flurry of a finish started off more like a prize fight, each team taking its turn landing blows in a game of wild swings.

UCLA led by 13 at the half, but went on an 11-minute field goal drought as Gonzaga went up by 10 with 2:40 left. The Bruins took their rally turn and retook the lead, but left Gonzaga with too much time on the clock.

“We should have been tighter on Strawther,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We were the whole game. We just weren’t on that play. If we were tighter then he couldn’t have looped behind.”

Timme kept Gonzaga in it during UCLA’s torrid first half and Gonzaga’s porous first-half defense tightened in the second, giving them a seven-point lead with 53 seconds left.

Jaquez brought the Bruins back in his final college game.

The Pac-12 player of the year scored on a three-point play and a layup to cut it 74-71 with 45 seconds left. Timme then missed two free throws, setting up Bailey’s shot.

Thankfully for the Zags, Strawther was on the mark with his long 3-pointer and Campbell was off the mark on his, sending Gonzaga to the Elite Eight for the fifth time under Few.

UCLA rolls past UNC Asheville 86-53 in March Madness

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points and UCLA raced out to a fast start and never looked back for an 86-53 victory over UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the first 14 points of the game and rolled from there. Amari Bailey also had 17 points and David Singleton scored 11 as UCLA bounced back from a close loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game.

“We don’t take losing well at UCLA,” coach Mick Cronin said. “We spell fun, W-I-N. We lost our last game. These guys took it personal. You saw how they came out tonight. Our defensive intensity and our deflections early in the game I think really rattled them. They could never really get comfortable.”

UCLA advanced to play seventh-seeded Northwestern in the second round of the West Region. The Wildcats beat Boise State 75-67 earlier in the day.

Drew Pember had 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the Big South regular-season and tournament titles, has lost all five times the school has advanced to the round of 64.

“I give them a ton of credit,” coach Mike Morrell said. “They were the aggressors early, and they took it to us. You’ve got to give them credit for that because they were not going to be caught sleeping. I thought they were really good defensively. They just kind of really pushed us around all over the floor.”

The Bruins apparently took notice of what happened earlier in the day at this site when fellow Pac-12 No. 2 seed Arizona was ousted by Princeton 59-55.

UCLA made sure this game was never in doubt, making its first five shots and taking a 14-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Singleton just 3:06 into the game.

“It’s like the first day and there’s already so many upsets,” point guard Tyger Campbell said. “It just makes us lock in more because we know it’s possible. Especially earlier today, Princeton and Arizona. I think it made us come out and just understand that, you know, every team in this tournament can play.”

Jaquez scored inside to give the Bruins their biggest lead of the first half at 34-11 and they coasted from there.

The Bruins dominated in the paint thanks in part to Kenneth Nwuba and Mac Etienne combining to go 9 for 9 from the floor against the smaller Bulldogs.

“That’s what you’ve got to do in games like that,” Cronin said. “If you don’t, if your size and athleticism isn’t a factor, then it doesn’t matter if you’re high major or mid-major. You’ve got to high-major them, and we did that tonight physically.”


UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs came into the game on a nine-game winning streak and with a school-record 27 wins but were once again overmatched against a major opponent. Four of their five losses in the first round of the tournament have come by at least 20 points, with their only close game being a 72-65 defeat against Syracuse in 2012.

UCLA: The injuries that hit the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament didn’t hurt them in this game. Defensive stopper Jaylen Clark (Achilles tendon) is out for the season and freshman big man Adem Bona sat out his second straight game with a shoulder injury. Bona has a good chance to return for the second round on Saturday.


With a win on Saturday, the Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16 for a third straight season for the first time since 2006-08, when they went to the Final Four each year.

Edey, Jackson-Davis, Wilson headline AP All-America Team

Alex Martin/Journal and Courier/USA TODAY NETWORK
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Purdue’s Zach Edey and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis gave the Big Ten Conference a third straight year with multiple first-team Associated Press All-America picks, while Kansas had a second straight first-teamer in Jalen Wilson.

The 7-foot-4, 305-pound Edey appeared on all 58 ballots as a first-team selection from AP Top 25 voters as the lone unanimous pick.

The selections of the Boilermakers’ Edey and the Hoosiers’ Jackson-Davis came a year after the Big Ten had three first-team picks. And it gave the league seven through the last three seasons; no other league has more than three.

The Big Ten has had at least one first-teamer for five straight years and eight of the last nine.

Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Alabama’s Brandon Miller joined Edey and Wilson on the first team in representing each of the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seeds.

Edey has commanded the national spotlight all year. The Big Ten player of the year ranks sixth nationally in scoring (22.3), second in rebounding (12.8) and first in double-doubles (26).

“Everybody goes: ‘You go to him so much,’” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the Big Ten Tournament title win against Penn State. “If they call it by the rules, they’re fouling him on every possession. So why shouldn’t we get it to him and just try to get in that bonus early and steal points?

“Obviously he can make tough post-ups and he can get at the rim, and he gets offensive rebounds when you take him away.”

Jackson-Davis, a 6-9 fourth-year forward, is Indiana’s first first-team selection since Victor Oladipo in 2013. He’s averaging 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds while taking a leap with his passing (4.1 assists, up from 1.9 last year).

“I probably have pushed him harder than any player on this team and I know there’s been days that he’s walked out of here thinking that, ‘Hey, is this guy really in my corner, based on how he’s pushing me?’” coach Mike Woodson said. “But at the end of the day, he’s gotten better as a player.

“We have benefited from it, you know, with our ballclub, in terms of how we played as a team. And he’s been the driving force behind it.”

Wilson, a 6-8 fourth-year forward, was a returning complementary starter from last year’s NCAA title run. He thrived in an expanded role, becoming Big 12 player of the year and nearly doubling his scoring average (20.1, up from 11.1) to go with 8.4 rebounds.

It marked the fourth time in seven seasons that the Jayhawks had a first-team pick going back to national player of the year Frank Mason III in 2017.

“He’s an elite competitor,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said after a Big 12 Tournament loss to the Jayhawks. “He gets to the glass. He makes cuts. He makes it hard. He does so many things.”

Sasser, a 6-2 senior, was a starter on the Cougars’ Final Four team two years ago and is the star of another title threat this year. He’s averaging 17.1 points as the program’s first first-team selection since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 during the “Phi Slama Jama” era.

Miller, a 6-9 freshman, was a McDonald’s All-American who became an immediate star on the way to being named the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

Miller has been involved in a murder case that has overshadowed the Crimson Tide’s successful run, leading to capital murder charges against former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris. A police investigator testified last month that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night, though authorities haven’t charged Miller with any crime.


Pac-12 player of the year Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA was the leading vote-getter on the second team that included Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, last season’s AP national player of the year.

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme was a second-team selection for the third straight year, while Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis and Penn State’s Jalen Pickett rounded out the second quintet.


Kansas State’s surge led to the Wildcats earning third-team selections in Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, their first AP All-Americans since Jacob Pullen in 2011.

Big East player of the year Tyler Kolek of Marquette, Iowa’s Kris Murray and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot rounded out the third team.


National scoring leader Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who averaged 28.2 points and fell three points shy of tying “Pistol” Pete Maravich’s all-time career scoring record, was the leading vote-getter among players who didn’t make the three All-America teams.

Players earned honorable-mention status if they appeared on multiple voters’ ballots. This year’s list includes Memphis’ Kendric Davis, Xavier’s Souley Boum and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.