Kenneth Nwuba announces he will return to UCLA next season
Count Kenneth Nwuba comes in. He’s coming back for a sixth season.
The UCLA redshirt senior big man announced on Instagram Friday that he will be returning after his role has increased dramatically in the shorthanded team’s recent games. Nwuba had a year of similar eligibility to other players who were granted extensions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a ceremonial start on senior night, Nwuba also started against Arizona in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament and against North Carolina Asheville and Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament after Adem Bona was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Nwuba played admirably and almost helped the Bruins beat the Wildcats before scoring a career-high 10 points on all four shots in a win over Asheville in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. A week later, Nwuba and teammate Mac Etienne fought fellow Gonzaga Drew Timme, who scored 36 points and 13 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 79-76 win over the Bruins.
Bona hasn’t announced if he intends to return next season after suffering a shoulder injury that could require lengthy rehabilitation.
But Nwuba’s decision offers some continuity for a squad in flux. Although junior guard Jaylen Clark declared himself for the NBA draft earlier this week, freshman guard Amari Bailey and seniors Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell have not said if they intend to return to use their remaining eligibility.
Best known for his defensive presence, the 6-foot-10 Nwuba posted career bests across the board last season, averaging 1.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game.
Nwuba’s career has taken an unusual path. He played in 17 games in the 2018–19 season before switching redshirts the following season for further development following the arrival of coach Mick Cronin.
Nwuba earned some national airtime for his celebratory dance as part of the Bruins’ run to the Final Four in 2021 while working his way up to a more prominent part of the rotation. His defense during a 20-minute appearance against Michigan, in which he grabbed five rebounds during a regional final, was crucial in UCLA’s 51-49 win.
If all goes well, there will be one last dance next spring.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2023-03-31/ucla-kenneth-nwuba-will-return-next-season Kenneth Nwuba announces he will return to UCLA next season