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Amari Bailey leaving UCLA after 1 season to enter NBA draft

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Northwestern vs UCLA

Mar 18, 2023; Sacramento, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Amari Bailey (5) runs back on defense during the first half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES - Amari Bailey joined the exodus of UCLA players to the NBA draft.

He announced his plans on his Instagram account.

The freshman guard from Chicago started 28 of 30 games in his lone season in Westwood. He averaged 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. He also made the All-Pac-12 Tournament team.

“Since I was 3 years old, basketball has been my first and only love,” Bailey wrote. “I have decided to bet on myself and turn my dreams into reality and enter the 2023 NBA Draft.”

Bailey scored 19 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of UCLA’s 79-76 loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 last month.

“Amari improved immensely this season as a basketball player,” coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “One area in which Amari most improved was becoming an elite defensive player. His on-the-ball pressure became a huge weapon for our team.”

Bailey joins teammates Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Jaylen Clark in declaring for the draft. Campbell and Jaquez are seniors.

Clark, a junior, did not indicate whether he would hire an agent ahead of the June 22 draft or retain his remaining eligibility.