UCLA’s Kevon Looney officially declares for the NBA draft

Kevon Looney has officially declared for the NBA draft, becoming the third player in the last three years to leave UCLA after his freshman season.

A five-star recruit out of Milwaukee, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds and made the All-Pac-12 second team. He sustained a facial fracture during the Pac-12 Tournament, but continued playing with a mask during the Bruins’ Sweet 16 run.

He is projected by many NBA mock drafts as a potential lottery pick.

“This was a really tough decision for me because there were so many positives both ways,” Looney said in a statement. “My time at UCLA has been unbelievable, and I know I’ll be a Bruin forever. But playing in the NBA is a dream I’ve had for so long, and this feels like the right time to pursue that dream and make the transition to the next level.

“Coach Alford, our whole staff and all my teammates have been nothing but supportive of me, my family and my decision. I’m especially grateful to Coach Alford for everything he has done for me since I first stepped on campus last June. Without a doubt, coming to UCLA is the best decision I ever made, and I want everyone to understand that. I hope our fans will continue to support me at the next level as I continue my journey.”

Real GM had reported last week that Looney was close to reaching an agreement with an agent.

Looney led all freshmen nationally with 15 double-doubles this season, and was second in the conference among all players in both rebounding and double-doubles. He is by far the most touted recruit that head coach Steve Alford has reeled in since arriving at UCLA.

The Bruins produced three first-round picks last year in freshman Zach LaVine and sophomores Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. In 2013, after former head coach Ben Howland’s final season in Westwood, Shabazz Muhammad became the 14th overall pick following his freshman campaign.

— Post-season thoughts on the state of UCLA basketball