The UCLA Basketball program has been a bit of personnel carousel the past few seasons, this one again being one of them with key departures and arrivals going hand in hand.
Just a week and a half ago, star shooting guard and leading scorer Jordan Adams had announced that he had withdrawn his name from NBA Draft consideration and decided to return for his junior year with the Bruins. That all sounded great until he changed his mind and opted for the draft on Tuesday.
This is seemingly a strange decision because he had made his intentions clear: he wanted to return. Without speculation, hopefully nothing tragic financially has forced his hand. I believe I can speak for the Bruin faithful in wishing Mr. Jordan Adams well; thank you for always giving 100 percent.
Now to project a starting five for next year. The Bruins only return one starter from last year’s bunch- off guard Norman Powell. Powell brings his experience and huge athleticism back with him in his senior year after he came on very strong toward the end of last season and looks to have a promising campaign ahead. They’ll need his leadership after losing two key leaders and starters in Kyle Anderson and Adams to the draft.
The Bruins are looking at potentially running a three guard lineup much like they did last season. Powell of course being one of the starters, the coach’s son Bryce Alford being another, and finally the standout who used his redshirt last year, Isaac Hamilton. Hamilton could end up playing either the two or the three position. Hamilton is very gifted athletically, can shoot and handle the ball. Hamilton was considered by many to be the third best player even on last year’s team.
Alford, the coach’s son, looks to step in as the point guard and primary ball handler. Alford brings more of a scorer’s mentality to the position. He has good size at 6-foot-3 and also has the high basketball IQ which you would expect from a coach’s son. Bryce showed many flashes of brilliance last year, and I believe he steps into the starting roll and really holds down the position well.
Now onto the big men. Kevon Looney is a five star recruit. The 6-foot-10 power forward shows premier athletic ability and body to go along with. He is an excellent rebounder and can play with his back to the basket. The McDonald’s All American looks to jump right into the starting lineup next season and possibly be the team’s go-to weapon in the low post.
Tony Parker is the other big guy projected into next season’s starting lineup and is now one of the veterans as junior. Parker is coming off a season which saw some bright spots, yet also some let downs. On the plus side Parker has improved physically in each of his two years with the program, indicating he is a hard worker and we can only expect more improvement next season. Parker can have a huge impact down low if he applies himself, and with Looney playing opposite of him, the lane to the hoop might be clogged up with a defensive prowess missing from teams of the last few years.
With Alford, Hamilton, Powell, Looney, and Parker making up next season’s starting five, the Bruins look poised for a successful season next year, the second under Coach Steve Alford. It is a balanced lineup. A weakness that might present itself is the lack of outside shooting, that could be negated by the ability to get to the hole and sound ball movement. 2014-2015 could be a very similar season to last season and I believe that is not a bad thing.