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UCLA coach Mick Cronin criticized the NBA and the G League on Friday for their pursuit of Daishen Nix, a former Bruins recruit who signed with the G League last year.
Nix, the Rivals.com No. 15 player in the country in the class of 2020, committed to play for UCLA in August 2019 and signed a national letter of intent with the program that November.
He never made it to UCLA, though.
Nix ended up going pro and played this past season for the NBA G League Ignite, averaging 8.8 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 26.5 minutes over 15 games, ESPN reports.
Cronin, speaking on ESPN Radio, said the G League team actively recruited Nix because he simply filled a position need — preventing the guard from playing at UCLA.
“No, no, no, [the Ignite] actively recruited him, knew he was signed because you needed a point guard for that team and that’s fine, but let’s just call it what it is. We’re not on the same team,” Cronin said, per ESPN.
Cronin then said that some things that were said during the process were just not right.
“There were things that were said in the process that just weren’t right,” Cronin told ESPN Radio. “I know what was said to him. I know things that were told to him and scared him about UCLA not playing or college basketball not happening, and that’s cool if that’s how they want to do it. They don’t give a damn about what the hell I say or what I think; I’m the least of their worries. Let’s just call it what it is and downplay that the guy was committed and changed his mind.”
In this, his second season at UCLA, Cronin has guided the 11th-seeded Bruins to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. They will face Michigan at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday night.
They beat No. 2 seed Alabama 88-78 in overtime Sunday night in the Sweet 16.
ESPN reports that Cronin described college basketball as a “free farm system for 40 years for the NBA” and reiterated its benefits for player development.
“Several top high school recruits have pursued the G League rather than spending a year in college basketball before turning pro,” the article states. In that, Nix joins Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and even LaMelo Ball, who played one season in Australia before his rookie season in the NBA this year.
But Cronin told ESPN Radio he thinks any high school player should be able to pursue an NBA career right away — he just doesn’t like the NBA’s “two-faced lies.”
“It’s America. A guy can go to war when he’s 18. He can grab a gun and get killed for our country, but he can’t put his name in the [NBA] draft?” Cronin said. “Come on, man, it’s ridiculous. I just don’t like the two-faced lies and acting like we didn’t recruit the kid.”