UCLA center Ike Anigbogu has declared for the NBA draft, he announced Wednesday on Twitter, but Anigbogu has not hired an agent, meaning he will retain the option of returning to the team.
Anigbogu’s announcement means that all three Bruins freshmen have declared for the draft, though guard Lonzo Ball and forward T.J. Leaf said they would hire agents, making them ineligible to return. College players who declare for the draft but do not hire an agent can withdraw their names until May 24.
“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 said. “I’m especially grateful to UCLA’s entire coaching staff for everything they’ve done for me.”
The 6-foot-10 Anigbogu could be drafted as high as the latter half of the first round, according to two NBA executives who spoke with The Times. Anigbogu averaged a modest 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per game but is widely coveted because of his athleticism and potential as an elite defender.
“Ike quickly made a huge impact within our program and will be a tremendous addition to any team at the next level,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by the school. “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.”