UCLA's Mick Cronin Rips NBA, G League over Recruitment of Daishen Nix

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 26, 2021

UCLA head coach Mick Cronin communicates with his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wedesday, March 3, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
Andy Nelson/Associated Press

UCLA men's basketball head coach Mick Cronin went on ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin show and criticized the NBA and the G League for their recruitment of Daishen Nix, who signed a letter of intent with the Bruins before changing course and opting to play for the NBA G League Ignite team.

Cronin said (h/t ESPN's Adam Rittenberg):

"There were things that were said in the process that just weren't right. 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."

Cronin clarified that his issue was with the recruiting itself and noted that he believes high school players should jump straight to the pros if they so choose.

"You should. It's America," said Cronin, who has been a college coach since 1996. "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."

Nix was UCLA's top recruit before the switch. The 5-star prospect ranked 17th in 247Sports' composite rankings of the best boys basketball players from the high school class of 2020. He was also third among point guards.

He averaged 8.8 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 26.5 minutes over 15 G League games and is currently ranked 35th in the latest 2021 NBA draft big board from Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, who offered this write-up: "Nix's strong frame and passing instincts suggest his physical finishing, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game can translate from the G League bubble to the NBA. No explosiveness and poor shooting (6-of-28 3PT) raise questions about his ceiling."

The 6'5", 224-pound Nix should ultimately be suiting up for an NBA team next year (or its G League affiliate) as the Alaska native looks to carve out a long and successful pro career.

UCLA is having a good season even without Nix. The Bruins are 20-9 and moved into the Sweet 16 after wins over Michigan State, BYU and Abilene Christian. The No. 11 seed in the East Region faces the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide next on Sunday.