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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

UCLA had three players selected in the 2023 NBA Draft


The NBA confirmed what many UCLA fans thought of their 2022-2023 UCLA men's basketball team last Thursday Night, selecting three members of the team in the 2023 NBA draft. Jaime Jaquez Jr., Amari Bailey, and Jaylen Clark were all selected in the two-round NBA draft, which was held on Thursday Night, June 22nd at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Jaquez Jr., a 6-foot-7 forward, was selected in the first round at No. 18 by the Miami Heat. He should fit in well with the Heat, who play a tough, unselfish style of basketball. Jaquez was a three-star recruit out of Camarillo high school in Camarillo, where he led the team to a Coastal Canyon League title and helped lead team to and the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs.

Jaquez played all four years for UCLA head coach Mick Cronin. Jaquez was the Pac-12 Player of the Year in the 2022-2023 season, leading the Bruins to their first regular season title since 2013. Jaquez did it all for the Bruins, leading the Bruins in scoring and rebounding this past season, being a three-time All-Conference pick in the Pac-12 and a two-time All-defensive pick in the Pac-12.

"The Jaime Jaquez story is what college basketball is all about," said Cronin. "You're talking about a young man who led his team for four years, went to the Final Four as a sophomore and won the Pac-12 regular-season title as a senior. He led his teams to a 9-3 record in the NCAA Tournament and won an array of awards as a senior, including one national player of the year award. Plain and simple, Jaime is a winner. Words can't describe how proud the entire UCLA community is of Jaime. We can't wait to watch him thrive with the Miami Heat."

Amari Bailey spent only one year at UCLA, but he was a starter on a team that went 31-6 and helped get them to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. He was selected in the second round by the Charlotte Hornets at No. 41 overall.

The Hornets got a steal with this pick. Bailey, a 6-foot-5 guard, was a McDonald's All-American and five-star recruit out of Sierra Canyon high school in Chatsworth. A case could be made that Bailey would have been a sure-fire first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, but Bailey decided to leave after just one season. He has a high ceiling as an NBA player.

"Amari is a super-talented young man with tremendous upside," Cronin said. "He got better every day with us at UCLA, and he is going to have a long NBA career. We are very happy for Amari and proud to see him get drafted. All Bruins are excited that he chose UCLA, and we're looking forward to watching him build his career as a Charlotte Hornet."

Jaylen Clark, 6-foot-5 guard, was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year which is awarded to the best defensive player in the nation in the 2022-2023 season. Clark grew up in Riverside and played his senior season of basketball at Corona Centennial high school in Corona. He was a Pac-12 second team All-Conference selection this past season, as well as the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Clark suffered an Achilles injury in the final regular season game against Arizona at Pauley Pavilion. He was done for the season and will not be available to play until early next year. Clark was selected in the second round with the 53rd pick overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Due to his injury, he was unable to work out at the NBA combine, and that contributed to where he was selected in the draft.

"Jaylen had three great years in Westwood," Cronin said. "He improved every season and finished his collegiate career as the National Defensive Player of the Year. We were all heartbroken when Jaylen got injured at the end of the season. He deserved a better end to his career in Westwood, but we're so thankful for his great effort as a Bruin. Jaylen is the best perimeter defender I've ever coached, and I am sure he will be just as good in the NBA once he comes back healthy. Minnesota is getting a winning player, and we are all so happy for J-Rock."

Two other members of the Bruin's team also signed with NBA teams after the draft. Point guard Tyger Campbell, a three-time All-Conference selection in the Pac-12, signed a summer league contract with the Orlando Magic. At 5-foot-11 Campbell is undersized, but he has the skills and the intelligence to make an NBA roster.

Guard David Singleton, a 6-foot-4 three-point shooting specialist, agreed to an Exhibit-10 contract with the Atlanta Hawks. An Exhibit-10 contract is a one-year contract, an NBA minimum salary contract that can be converted to a two-way contract.

An Exhibit-10 contract is not guaranteed. Most NBA contracts are guaranteed and that is the advantage of being drafted. A two-way contract is not a bad way to get into the NBA. A two -way contract allows the player to split time between the NBA's G-League affiliate and the NBA team. Former UCLA star Johnny Juzang played with the Utah Jazz on a two-way contract this past season, averaging 4.8 points per game in 13 minutes per game. He played in 18 games for the Jazz.

The Bruins are 99-36 in four seasons under Cronin and are headed in a positive direction as they enter the 2023-2024 season. The results of the 2023 NBA Draft reflects the talent that Cronin and his coaching staff have been able to recruit and develop at UCLA.


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