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UCLA’s Peyton Watson headed to NBA draft after 1 season

Akron v UCLA

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 17: Peyton Watson #23 of the UCLA Bruins looks to pass against the UCLA Bruins in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES -- UCLA’s Peyton Watson is entering the NBA draft after one season in Westwood and hiring an agent, which officially ends his college eligibility.

Watson announced his decision Tuesday on his social media accounts.

“I’m excited for the next chapter and I’m ready to fulfill my lifelong goal of being an NBA player,” he wrote.

The guard-forward from nearby Long Beach averaged 3.3 points while shooting 32% and averaged 2.9 rebounds playing nearly 13 minutes per game. His 19 blocked shots ranked second on the team and he appeared in 32 games last season.

Watson was an honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.

“We are very excited for Peyton,” coach Mick Cronin said. “We all know he has tremendous upside as a basketball player, and we were fortunate to have him in Westwood.”

The Bruins finished 27-8 and lost to North Carolina in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Watson played just three minutes in that game, equaling his fewest of the season.

“Although we didn’t reach all of our goals as a team this season, my experience at UCLA made me a better person and a better player,” he wrote.

Before coming to UCLA, Watson helped the U.S. win a gold medal at the FIBA Under 19 World Cup last July.

The Bruins already lost reserve guard Jake Kyman, who said he is transferring.