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UCLA’s Peyton Watson declares for NBA draft

UCLA freshman Peyton Watson announced Tuesday that he is entering the NBA draft and will hire an agent, ending his college eligibility.

Watson was a five-star recruit but his production didn’t match his billing. He averaged just 12.7 minutes, 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 32 games off the bench. He shot just 32.2 percent from the field.

“Growing up as a kid in Long Beach, it’s always been my dream to play close to home at UCLA,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “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. Thank you to the UCLA coaching staff and my teammates for helping create memories I will carry with me for a lifetime.

“After talking it over with my family, I have decided to enter the 2022 NBA Draft and hire an agent. I’m excited for the next chapter and I’m ready to fulfill my lifelong goal of being an NBA player.”

The 6-foot-8 Watson scored in double digits just three times. He played a total of 19 minutes in UCLA’s three NCAA Tournament games.

“We are very excited for Peyton,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “We all know he has tremendous upside as a basketball player, and we were fortunate to have him in Westwood. Peyton came to work every day with a great attitude and a burning desire to improve himself as a player. Peyton is a great teammate and a wonderful person, and we thank him for choosing UCLA. He will always be a part of the Bruin family. We look forward to watching him and rooting for him as a professional for many years to come.”

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