Waiting for the last minute to announce his intentions, Jules Bernard will not return to Westwood for one last trip.
The UCLA men’s basketball guard announced the 2022 NBA draft while retaining his eligibility again on April 19, and finally confirmed his commitment to turning professional Wednesday night on Instagram. The deadline for first entrants to opt out of the draft was June 1 at 8:59 p.m., meaning Bernard largely moved his decision.
Bernard joins Johnny Guzhang and Peyton Watson on the draft group, and they now have a chance to hear their names in Brooklyn on June 23.
Bernard took part in a G League Elite Camp in mid-May to try to get a late invite to the NBA Draft Combine, but despite averaging 17 points per game with a 6-to-1 ratio of assists to spin through the two straight scrimmages, he is He was not one of the seven potential candidates who were chosen to move forward.
While this seemed to mean the end of Bernard’s professional chances in 2022, he participated in pre-project training for the Utah Jazz on Sunday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Bernard hasn’t appeared in any mock drafts, so there’s a chance those teams may look at him as a potential uncredited free agent or G League option.
Had he returned to the Bruins in his senior season, Bernard would have only needed to play in another 18 games to break Michael Roll’s record for most career appearances in UCLA history with a score of 147. Instead, that record would remain.
Bernard has averaged 11.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game since becoming a regular player in his freshman year, including 12.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. During his four-year career, Bernard totaled 1,195 points, 509 rebounds, 158 assists, 82 steals and 22 tackles, and played a key role in UCLA’s turnaround in the late season 2020, 2021 Final Four, and the trip to the Sweet 16 in 2022.
The former four-star recruit has had a fickle ball ability since arriving at Westwood. Bernard shot 45.4% from the field and 38.6% of 3 in his first and first year, but only 41.1% from the field and 33.2% of 3 in his second and final year.
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Last season alone, Bernard fired 45.7% from outside the arc in 4.6 attempts per game during his first 10 appearances before shooting 23.5% in 4.5 attempts during the last 19 games of the regular season. Then, as the post-season began, Bernard’s shot came back to life and fired 42.9% from 5.8 attempts per game in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.
Much more linear development for Bernard was his playmaking and ball handling skills. Bernard’s assist to turn has improved every season, halving his turnover from the first two seasons to the next, even leading the Pac-12 at 7.7% as a senior.
Bernard also led the conference with 81.8% free throws this past season.
In every off-rebound category, Bernard set his career highs across the board in 2021-2022, and that goes for total, per game, per 40 minutes and advanced stats. Coach Mick Cronin spent nearly the entire season publicly praising Bernard and heralded as an overlooked prospect in the NBA for his length, defense and overall offensive capabilities.
Bernard’s lack of return means Cronin will only get two of his five starting players for next season – points guard Tiger Campbell and goalkeeper/forward Jaime Jaques Jr. While McDonald’s All-American combo guard Amari Bailey and junior rookie Jaylen Clark are expected to be the other starters on the wing.
A bench lineup made up of Etienne, top bowler David Singleton, new points guard Dylan Andrews and post-AFC Champions League rip-off Will McClendon gives Cronin a spin-deep nine, plus year five big man Kenneth Noba and a walking-once trio.
The Bruins now shy away three scholarships from reaching the NCAA limit following Bernard’s official departure, giving Cronin space to bring in additional players through the transfer portal if he chooses.