UCLA’s Cody Riley and Chris Smith will test NBA draft waters; Jaime Jaquez will not

Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, and Cody Riley leave the court together after a 93-90 overtime loss to Gonzaga in the Final Four.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, and Cody Riley leave the court together after a 93-90 overtime loss to Gonzaga in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
(Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

UCLA’s basketball roster remains in flux after redshirt junior forward Cody Riley and senior guard Chris Smith submitted their names for NBA draft consideration while preserving their ability to return next season.

Meanwhile, sophomore guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. has committed to returning to the team for at least one more college season, an athletic department spokesman said Friday.

Like sophomore guard Johnny Juzang, who declared for the draft last month, Riley and Smith will seek feedback about where NBA teams might select them — or if they are more likely to go undrafted — before making their decision. The players have until July 7 to withdraw from draft consideration and preserve their college eligibility.


Juzang is widely considered the most attractive NBA prospect of the bunch after a breakthrough NCAA tournament in which he averaged 22.8 points while leading the Bruins to a surprise appearance in the Final Four, but even he is widely projected as only a second-round selection.

While Juzang and Riley can improve their standing through team workouts and the NBA combine next month, Smith is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is not expected to resume basketball activities before the fall.

Gary Cunningham, a senior captain of the 1961-62 UCLA team, noted the similarities between this season’s Bruins and his edition nearly 60 years ago.

Smith averaged 12.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in the eight games he played last season after being selected as the Pac-12 Conference’s most improved player during the 2019-20 season. Should Smith opt to return to the Bruins next season, he would not count against the team’s scholarship limits since he’s a super senior because of an additional year of eligibility granted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riley averaged 10 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season as the team’s primary big man upon the departure of Jalen Hill in February because of anxiety and depression. Riley also declared for the NBA draft after his redshirt freshman season in 2018-19 before deciding to return.

UCLA guard Chris Smith dunks against Utah.
UCLA guard Chris Smith dunks against Utah during the first half of a game Dec. 31, 2020.
(Associated Press)

“Cody has been at UCLA for four years, has grown up a lot on and off the court, and has been a joy to coach,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “He’s been a warrior for us. I’ve encouraged Cody to take advantage of this time and this evaluation process. I know that he wants to see where he fits at the next level and where he needs to improve.

“He has been in school since our season ended, working with our team during spring workouts, and I know that he is close to getting his UCLA degree. I fully support Cody and his decision. He deserves this opportunity.”