UCLA power forward T.J. Leaf has elected to enter the 2017 NBA draft and will hire an agent, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility, he tells Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link). Leaf, who confirmed his decision on his Twitter account, is coming off his freshman year, so he’ll go pro after just one season with the Bruins.
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Leaf, 19, had a very successful freshman year at UCLA, averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.1 BPG in just under 30 minutes per contest. He also knocked down field goals at an excellent rate, shooting 61.7% from the floor and 46.6% from three-point range.
A probable first-round pick, Leaf ranks 28th overall on DraftExpress’ big board, though Jonathan Givony has him coming off the board at No. 22 in his latest mock draft. ESPN’s Chad Ford is even more bullish on the young big man, placing Leaf 17th overall in his top 100 and writing that he’ll likely be drafted in the 12-to-20 range.
According to Ford, Leaf’s ability to score from anywhere on the court is “the big appeal” for scouts — he’s one of the most offensively talented big man in the draft. Although his lack of length and possible defensive shortcomings are a cause for some concern, Leaf should still come off the board fairly early in June, Ford adds.