UCLA Basketball: Freshman Kris Wilkes is declaring for the NBA Draft

TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 8: Kris Wilkes
TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 8: Kris Wilkes /

Though it was expected, UCLA basketball freshman wingman Kris Wilkes has declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, though like his freshmen counterpart Jaylen Hands, will not hire an agent.

The one-and-done era of college basketball can be cruel as it can decimate a team and leave players without a home after choosing to leave early (and not get drafted). Luckily, players are getting smarter. UCLA basketball freshman forward Kris Wilkes is a prime example of that.

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Wilkes, and fellow freshmen Jaylen Hands, are both making a decision that would allow them a return to college if they do not get a favorable scouting report and it is not projected that they will get drafted.

So far, Hands and Wilkes have not been listed among several respectable NBA Draft experts’ mock drafts, which is why their decision is a good one.

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By not hiring an agent, both can “test the waters” as Hands stated in his declaration for the draft on Instagram, leaving open the possibility to come back and play for the Bruins in their sophomore season. Both can also get an analysis of what they need to work on in the next year, giving them even more information to prepare for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Both have the skills to play in the NBA, but have some work to do. Wilkes and Hands did not exactly light the world on fire at UCLA last season. Wilkes has the potential to be a scoring machine as we saw in several games last season, but could often run cold. Either way, if he can take another year to develop his skills, it would benefit him greatly.

Wilkes has the ability to score from anywhere on the court and was the second-highest scorer on the team with 13.8 points per game. Wilkes made his presence known around the rim and from outside the three-point arc, shooting 44.1% and 35.2%, respectively. He also had 3.9 rebounds and totaled 18 blocks and 25 steals on the season.

Wilkes can be an effective weapon for any NBA team as he has the length and athleticism, but another year at UCLA, where he could effectively take on a leadership role, could very well help his stock for next year’s draft.

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Either way, he is doing the smart thing by not hiring an agent because if he decides to return to UCLA, he could potentially be one of the best players in the Pac-12 next season. You heard it hear first.