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 in April 2020.
Nix, a point guard from Las Vegas and ESPN’s No. 21 recruit in the 2020 class, committed to play for UCLA in August 2019 and signed a national letter of intent with the program that November. But he 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.
Speaking on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin show, Cronin said the Ignite team actively recruited Nix because he filled a position need while discouraging the guard from playing at UCLA. Cronin, in his second season at UCLA, has guided the 11th-seeded Bruins to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, where they will face No. 2 seed Alabama on Sunday night in Indianapolis.
“There were things that were said in the process that just weren’t right,” Cronin told hosts Jay Williams, Bart Scott and Alan Hahn. “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.
“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.”
On a videoconference with reporters earlier this week, Cronin described college basketball as a “free farm system for 40 years for the NBA” and touted its superior 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.
But Cronin told ESPN Radio on Friday that any high school player should be able to pursue an NBA career right away.
“You should,” he said. “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? Come on, man, it’s ridiculous. I just don’t like the two-faced lies and acting like we didn’t recruit the kid.”