The UCLA Bruins received a huge boost to their chances at claiming the Pac-12 championship next season as freshman forward Kris Wilkes announced Tuesday that he was returning to Westwood and would not remain in the 2018 NBA Draft, per multiple sources.
Kris Wilkes is returning to UCLA next season, per a source. Entered 2018 NBA Draft without an agent. Big news for Steve Alford.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 29, 2018
Kris Wilkes withdrawing from the draft and returning to UCLA, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 29, 2018
This is major news for the Bruins as they are losing leading scorer Aaron Holiday to the draft and Thomas Welsh to graduation. They were in need of someone to carry the scoring load for 2018-19, and Wilkes has the tools to do just that.
The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds for UCLA last season, and is the highest-scoring returning player by a large margin. After going through the combine and pre-draft process, Wilkes thought it would benefit him to return to Westwood for next season. He’s a smooth scorer and will no doubt want to improve on his 35 percent shooting from 3-point range next season. If that number moves closer to 40 percent, and Wilkes can also improve on defense, he has the skills to be a potential lottery pick next year.
Here’s what the Bruins are getting with Wilkes’ return.