Discover more from The Mighty Bruin
Peyton Watson Declares for the NBA Draft
Watson was one of the question marks of the offseason, and now we have an answer.
Peyton Watson became the latest domino to fall for this UCLA Bruin offseason when he announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft. In his announcement, which he posted to Instagram, Watson also stated that he will be hiring an agent.
Watson had a fascinating year for the Bruins. In 32 games, he averaged 3.3 points per game in 12.7 minutes, while grabbing 2.9 rebounds and 0.8 assists. His offensive game was slow to develop, with an inconsistent jumper and a loose handle that was prone to turnovers. Where Watson excelled was on the defensive end, where his length and athleticism provided problems for opposing defenses; most of his highlight plays this year involve some sort of ridiculous block that took the soul out of a shooter. Watson’s 3.8 defensive box plus/minus was third on the team behind All Pac-12 Defenders Myles Johnson and Jaylen Clark. There was a case to be made that he should have played more minutes against high-quality opponents like Arizona and North Carolina, but that is a question for another day.
Before the season, Peyton Watson was considered to be a potential lottery pick, but recent mock drafts tend not to feature Watson in the first round. That said, it appeared many mock drafts assumed Watson was returning for his sophomore season, so it will be interesting to see if he climbs in mock drafts going forward. Any team drafting Watson will likely be doing so based on his physical attributes, which to be fair are incredibly tantalizing.
One thing to note in this announcement is that Watson will be hiring an agent. Current NCAA rules state that a player can still return to college if he hires an agent while declaring for the draft as long as the agent is NCAA-cleared, but there are so few agents who qualify that it is more likely that Watson is signing with a non-cleared agent.
For UCLA, the loss of Watson presents an interesting situation. Currently, the Bruins will be one scholarship over the limit once the incoming recruiting class arrives on campus, and will need at least one more player to leave the program to be at the scholarship limit. That will likely come at some point - Cody Riley, for example, is not expected to return for a super senior season - but Watson was not projected as one of the departures for the Bruins. This could open the door for the Bruins to explore the transfer market, and the decisions of their remaining players could inform what type of player UCLA takes a look at.
We wish Peyton Watson the best in the draft.