UCLA freshman Amari Bailey will enter the 2023 NBA draft, according to a post on his Instagram page Thursday.
Bailey, the No. 42 prospect in the ESPN 100, will not be returning to play in college, according to his mother, Johanna Leia.
“He is not testing the waters,” Leia said. “He’s full-fledged in declaring for the draft.”
The 6-foot-4 combo guard made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after averaging 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, shooting 39% from 3. He played his best basketball late in the season, posting 50 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in three NCAA tournament games while shooting 18-for-32 from the field.
Bailey, who has a significant online following, came into UCLA with considerable fanfare, as ESPN’s No. 5 high school recruit in 2022, but struggled early to find his footing on a veteran team that ranked among the best in the country for much of the year.
His excellent ball-handling ability, shiftiness changing speeds and getting into the paint, ability to pass off a live dribble and improved defense caught the eyes of NBA scouts late in the year and put him back in the picture as a potential first-round pick depending on how the pre-draft process shakes out.
The NBA draft combine will be held May 15-21 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 22 in New York City.