Jonah Bolden leaves UCLA to turn pro, eyes 2017 NBA Draft

Promising 6'10 Australian forward Jonah Bolden has decided to forgo his final two years of college basketball eligibility with UCLA to turn professional with a view to nominating for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Jonah Bolden | Credit: Scott Chandler/UCLA Athletics

Bolden's departure also comes about after having played just one season with UCLA after being forced to sit out his freshman year due to eligibility issues. It has been reported that Bolden's decision to leave the Bruins early may be directly related to academic issues that would have ruled him ineligible for the 2016/17 season. UCLA have not provided comment on Bolden’s academic status, citing privacy laws.

After attending Findlay Prep (NV) and Brewster Academy (NH), Bolden committed to the famed Bruins program. He was deemed ineligible to play during his freshman year due to an NCAA violation. The violation related to the fact that he had exceeded the allowed time frame before graduating from high school in the United States. This latest scenario ends a tumultuous college career that on the surface appears to have been doomed from the outset.

In 31 games last season (11 starts), Bolden averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Bolden leaves UCLA less than a month before a scheduled tour of Australia - an activity that any college program can undertake only once every 4 years. As the Bruins best defender, his departure will leave a gaping hole in UCLA's defense that was terrible last season. With impressive athleticism and a great feel for the game, the son of former NBL star, Bruce Bolden, was expected to be an impact player for UCLA this coming season.

In 2013, Bolden represented Australia at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. He averaged 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10 minutes per game. He played alongside current Utah Jazz point guard Dante Exum in a team that finished 4th.

While Bolden will no doubt have a fair share of professional suitors, where he will play next still remains unclear. According to Adam Zagoria, Bolden is set to play in Australia, while Olgun Uluc reports that he will instead sign to play in Europe.

In an interview with The Pick and Roll in 2014, Bolden spoke of his desire to play in the NBA. It is now clear that Bolden will declare for what promises to be a talent-laden 2017 NBA Draft.

If you are considering an aspiring college basketball athlete, please read our article Preparing Aussie kids for US college basketball to ensure you do not adversely impact your NCAA eligibility.