On Tuesday, Kris Wilkes was announced as having withdrawn from the NBA Draft.
Early Wednesday, Jaylen Hands did the same thing.
Now, right before the deadline, Cody Riley has joined his teammates in returning to the UCLA Bruins next season.
Ben Bolch of the LA Times was the first to report the news:
Cody Riley coming back too. UCLA's getting the band back together.— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) May 30, 2018
Jeff Goodman (who had broken the previous 2 returns) was quick to follow up and confirm this news:
Cody Riley has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to UCLA, school announces.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 30, 2018
Of the 3 non-Aaron Holiday underclassmen to submit their names to the draft, Riley was the most surprising, especially after missing an entire season due to the China incident. However, puzzle pieces began to fall into place when rumors began to surface indicating that Riley had dropped out of UCLA for the spring. BruinReportOnline even went as far as to state that they were extremely confident in Riley’s departure.
(Also, for those keeping track at home, that makes BRO 0-3 on their beliefs regarding Wilkes, Hands, and Riley leaving. At this point, maybe we should just assume Shareef O’Neal will put in his LOI tomorrow.)
Despite missing all of last year, Riley’s return is nothing but good news for the Bruins, as he was allowed to practice after a bit, and at the very least provides solid frontcourt depth, if not looking to be slotted into a starting spot next year.
Maybe more importantly, Riley’s return, along with that of Wilkes and Hands, may have UCLA as the preseason favorites in the Pac-12. No other team in the conference will have the level of talent that the Bruins will possess next year, though relative youth will be a factor. Point is, Steve Alford, who is easily sitting on the hottest seat in college basketball, will have no excuses should UCLA fail to win the Pac-12 next year.