UCLA is losing its entire 2016 recruiting class after just one season.
Freshman center Ike Anigbogu announced on Wednesday that he was declaring for the NBA Draft, joining teammates and fellow projected first-round selections Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf in leaving the Bruins.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to make that transition to the next level," Anigbogu wrote on his Twitter account. "I’m especially grateful to UCLA’s entire coaching staff for everything they’ve done for me. And to all the Bruin fans, you've made this year an experience of a lifetime. Having said that, I've decided to declare for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent.”
That final line leaves the door slightly ajar for a possible return to Westwood, although that's unlikely given several prognostications. Anigbogu, who missed the first five games of the season while recovering from a torn meniscus, averaged 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a freshman. He posted a season-best 12 points at Arizona State on Feb. 23 and also had a couple four-block performances during the season. Anigbogu was held scoreless and had only two rebounds in 15 games in the Sweet Sixteen loss to Kentucky.
“Ike quickly made a huge impact within our program and will be a tremendous addition to any team at the next level," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said in a statement. "I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, and he certainly has my support in making the jump to the NBA. We’re really going to miss him, his sense of humor and that seemingly shy smile that hides how fiery of a competitor he is. He’s worked very hard both on the court and in the classroom while at UCLA and has made tremendous strides. Ike is a terrific young man with limitless potential at the professional level, and I cannot wait to watch him continue to grow as a player and a person in the years to come.”
The Bruins will have to replace the three freshman as well as graduating seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton, and await the decisions of Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh. Players have until Apr. 10 to withdraw their name from NBA Draft consideration.