Ben Bolch of the LA Times is reporting what had been an open secret for a few weeks now, which is that Moses Brown will not be returning to UCLA next season.
The news isn’t much of a surprise for a few reasons. Despite how well or, more often, poorly he played last season, Brown always seemed to signal that he wanted to be a one-and-done in the mold of other top prospects from his recruiting class. While he still has until May 29th to remove his name from consideration, Bolch reports that Brown is not expected to return to UCLA regardless of his draft decision.
UCLA’s Moses Brown intends to make himself available for the NBA draft, according to a team spokesperson. Chris Smith and Cody Riley remain with the team and intend to return next season.— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) April 23, 2019
Moses Brown leaves UCLA after averaging 9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in his lone season.
As an observer, I have to say this decision isn’t a surprise, but it’s still hard to see Brown having much success at the next level, at least early on. It was pretty clear this year that Brown was very much a work-in-progress and lacked anything resembling a post game or the shooting ability that has become almost standard among modern NBA big men. His abysmal 35.2% from the free throw line made him virtually unplayable down the stretch of games and he eventually started losing minutes over the course of the season as it became apparent to everyone watching that his offensive game was so lacking that it put UCLA in a virtual 4-on-5 when he was on the court. Even Brown’s defensive game could use work as he was able to take advantage of his size to lock down the interior of the paint, but he really struggled to defend in space and he’ll have trouble at the next level as teams know how to punish immobile defenders.
More interesting was the reveal that both Cody Riley and Chris Smith will be returning for another season in Westwood. Riley was long considered a potential early departure possibility as he has the athleticism to succeed at the next level and showed a present, if inconsistent, outside game that could get him play at the next level. Smith, meanwhile, was still very much a project, but he possesses a lot of unrealized potential that we saw flashes of last season. Both guys will, at the very least, provide meaningful upperclassmen depth that the Bruins have been sorely lacking in recent years.
With Brown’s departure, that frees up a scholarship for next year that new head coach Mick Cronin can either use this year or save for next year. Considering how late in the recruiting cycle it is and with so few elite prospects left on the board, it probably behooves Cronin to save the scholarship and use it in the next recruiting class.
We wish Moses Brown luck in his future endeavors.