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Jules Bernard Remains in NBA Draft, Will Not Return to UCLA Men's Basketball

The Bruins will not be getting one of their most reliable wings back for his super senior season after he took his decision right up to the NCAA deadline.
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Waiting until the very last moment to make his intentions public, Jules Bernard will not be returning to Westwood for one final ride.

The UCLA men's basketball guard declared for the 2022 NBA Draft while retaining his eligibility back on April 19, and he ultimately reaffirmed his commitment to turning pro Wednesday night on Instagram. The deadline for early entrants to pull out of the draft was June 1 at 8:59 p.m., meaning Bernard very much brought his decision down to the wire.

Bernard joins Johnny Juzang and Peyton Watson in the draft pool, and the trio now has a chance to hear their names called in Brooklyn on June 23.

Bernard took part in the G League Elite Camp in mid-May to try and earn a late invite to the NBA Draft Combine, but despite averaging 17 points per game with a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio across the two live scrimmages, he was not one of the seven prospects picked to move on.

While that seemed to spell the end of Bernard's pro chances in 2022, he did take part in predraft workouts for the Utah Jazz on Sunday and Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Bernard has not appeared in any mock drafts, so there is a chance those teams are looking at him as a potential undrafted free agent or G League option.

Had he rejoined the Bruins for his super senior season, Bernard would have only needed to play in 18 more games to break Michael Roll's record for most career appearances in UCLA history with 147. Instead, that record will stand.

Bernard averaged 11.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game since becoming a regular starter his junior year, including 12.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. Across his four-year career, Bernard totaled 1,195 points, 509 rebounds, 158 assists, 82 steals and 22 blocks, playing a major part in UCLA's 2020 late-season turnaround, the 2021 Final Four run and the trip to the Sweet 16 in 2022.

The former four-star recruit has had fluctuating efficiency shooting the ball since arriving in Westwood, though. Bernard shot 45.4% from the field and 38.6% from 3 in his freshman and junior years, but only 41.1% from the field and 33.2% from 3 in his sophomore and senior years.

Just this past season, Bernard was shooting 45.7% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts per game across his first 10 appearances before shooting 23.5% on 4.5 attempts across the last 19 games of the regular season. Then, when the postseason started, Bernard's shot came back to life and he shot 42.9% on 5.8 attempts per game in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.

A far more linear development for Bernard has been his playmaking and ball-handling skills. Bernard's assist-to-turnover ratio has improved every single season, and he cut his turnover rate in half from his first two seasons to his next two, even leading the Pac-12 at 7.7% as a senior.

Bernard also led the conference with his 81.8% free throw percentage this past season.

In every category outside of rebounding, Bernard set 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 virtually the entire season publicly praising Bernard and heralding him as an overlooked NBA prospect in terms of his length, defense and all-around offensive abilities.

Bernard not returning means Cronin will have just two of his five starters back for next season – point guard Tyger Campbell and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. Some combination of incoming McDonald's All-American Adem Bona and Mac Etienne is in line to start on the block, while incoming McDonald's All-American combo guard Amari Bailey and rising junior Jaylen Clark are expected to be the other starters on the wing.

A bench lineup of Etienne, super senior sharpshooter David Singleton, incoming freshman point guard Dylan Andrews and post-ACL tear Will McClendon gives Cronin a rotation that is nine-deep, in addition to fifth-year big man Kenneth Nwuba and a trio of walk-ons.

The Bruins are now three scholarships shy of hitting the NCAA limit after Bernard's official departure, giving Cronin room to bring in additional players via the transfer portal should he so choose.

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