UCLA has lost a second player to the professional ranks after sophomore point guard Jaylen Hands announced Sunday that he had signed with an agent and would enter the NBA draft.
“To UCLA,” Hands tweeted, “thank you for the best 2 years of my life! Thank you for each and every high and low.”
The 6-foot-3 Hands departs after having transformed his game during his second college season, becoming more of a distributor and less of a scorer. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors after leading the conference in assists per game (6.1) and total assists (201) while also averaging 14.2 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Hands, who signed with BDA Sports Management, joins Bruins sophomore forward Kris Wilkes in leaving with two years of remaining eligibility. UCLA could conceivably lose a few more players to the pro game. Freshman center Moses Brown, sophomore forward Chris Smith and freshman forward Cody Riley are all believed to be contemplating their futures.
Some mock drafts don’t project Hands as being selected in either of the two rounds, but one NBA scout recently told The Times that Hands could be taken in the second round based on his potential. Hands also might have boosted his stock with several strong late-season performances, including a 27-point barrage against Oregon.
Hands returned to UCLA last season after declaring for the draft without hiring an agent, preserving his amateur status.
“I went in pretty open-minded at first,” Hands said in October of his NBA decision, “but toward the end I felt good about coming back and making our mark at UCLA.”
The Bruins were unable to win one game in the NCAA tournament during Hands’ two seasons, losing to St. Bonaventure in a play-in game in 2018 before failing to make the tournament after finishing this season with a 17-16 record.
Hands’ departure opens another roster spot that UCLA needed for its incoming freshman class. The Bruins have signed Camarillo High forward Jamie Jaquez and Santa Margarita forward Jake Kyman and are still in the running for Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High shooting guard Cassius Stanley.