Ike Anigbogu declares for NBA draft, doesn’t hire an agent

Freshman Ike Anigbogu will declare for the NBA draft, joining classmates Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf.

Ike Anigbogu became the third UCLA freshman in the last 12 days to announce he will declare for the NBA draft. Unlike classmates Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf, Anigbogu left the door open for a return by not hiring an agent.

“He’s not going to hire an agent for the time being, but that could change if he starts shooting up the draft boards and it pretty much becomes a lock that he’ll go in the first round,” said Anigbogu’s coach at Corona Centennial High School, Josh Giles. “If Ike really starts doing well in these workouts, I’ve had NBA people tell me he could be a late lottery guy.”

One the one hand, Anigbogu’s potential seems limitless. The measurables don’t nearly do his body justice. He is a chiseled 6-foot-10, 250 pounds and his legs look like tree trunks. And he only turned 18 five months ago.

On the other hand, he only played 13 minutes per game and averaged 4.7 points, 4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. His opportunities were limited in part because he played behind Thomas Welsh, who probably has a future in the NBA, but Anigbogu’s statistics are underwhelming.

Giles and Etop Udo-Ema, the founder of Anigbogu’s AAU team, the Compton Magic, both did their homework about where Anigbogu might be drafted. Both coaches have served as mentors to Anigbogu and aided his parents in making basketball decisions throughout Anigbogu’s career. They both got similar answers when digging for information about where Anigbogu may be selected in the NBA draft.

“I’ve received calls from 15 to 17 NBA teams and I’ve talked to scouts and directors of player personnel,” Giles said “The overwhelming consensus is there are very few people who think Ike’s going to fall out of the first round. He could go as high at 15, but mostly what we’ve heard is the 18 to 34 range. I know a few people who have played and coached in the NBA and (Udo-Ema) has a ton of contacts. It would be different if we were getting different answers, but everyone we’ve talked to has given us the same numbers about where Ike will go.”

Where does this leave UCLA? There are two ways to look at that too.

If Anigbogu fulfills the potential that can make him a first-round pick after averaging 4.7 points per game, UCLA is losing out on a game-changing presence on both ends of the court. It’s easy to assume Anigbogu will continue to improve and he could potentially take on a more offensively-oriented role considering the amount of scoring UCLA is losing in Leaf, Ball and seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton.

If Welsh stays and Anigbogu leaves, the Bruins simply have to replace a back-up center. The incoming recruiting class includes a 6-10 shot blocker and rebounder in Jalen Hill, who also hails from Centennial High School. Hill isn’t the physical presence Anigbogu is, but he is more athletic. The 6-8, 240-pound Cody Riley, who is more highly rated by the recruiting services, has the body to be more of a banger in the mold of Anigbogu, but certainly has plenty to prove.