For all the question marks that follow him as he treks his way through pre-draft workouts, UCLA freshman guard Zach LaVine strongly showcased something that has become awfully familiar.
The guy can jump. Very high. So high that he set a Lakers pre-draft workout record on Wednesday with a 46-inch vertical jump. This happened nearly three weeks after tying for the third-best vertical leap (41.5″) at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago.
“I’m going in to win a spot,” LaVine said with a grin. “I’ve gone higher than that before, but, yeah. “I think I was pumped a little bit. You know, the Lakers.”
But he also believes he can crack an NBA roster based on other attributes, too. LaVine continuously touted his one-on-one and off-ball defense, ball handling and playmaking abilities.
“I feel like I’m ready to contribute,” LaVine said. “I feel like I have a great skillset. Tell me anything you need me to do and I’ll go do it. What else has been helping me is they can see me on the ball. They can see me create plays on and off the ball, break my man down and play one on one. That’s my game. It definitely helps me out. From an athletic standpoint as well, I try to showcase that as much as I can.”
LaVine, of course, demonstrated those skills with his vertical jump. But he will likely have to provide a lot more.
LaVine spent his freshman year at UCLA battling inconsistency. He finished the second half of the season scoring in single digits in 14 of the last 18 games. LaVine eventually split back-court duties with Bryce Alford, the son of Bruins coach Steve Alford. Yet, he opted for the draft his athleticism gives him some upside and that he arguably could have developed faster in the NBA than under Alford.
I learned key things and life lessons,” said LaVine of his freshman season at UCLA where he averaged 9.4 points on 44.1 percent shooting and 1.8 assists. “I got my feet wet and saw how I stacked up against my competition. I think I did pretty well.”
Did find his role with UCLA as a life lesson as well?
“That all has to do with the coach,” said LaVine, who said he plans to workout with every NBA draft lottery team except for the Philadelphia 76ers. “Whatever he tells me to do, I’ll do it. I’m a player. I’ll go out there and try to compete with my guys and win. If it’s the sixth man, eighth man, or starting five or star, whatever it is I’ve played that role and am ready to do it. It’s just adapting. You might not have your way the whole time. You can’t be frustrated about as long you’re coming off the bench. I’m trying to go there and compete. Regardless of if I’m in the starting five, I’m still just trying to win and have the same mentality.”
And, of course, showing off his leaping skills in front of a team he grew up idolizing ever since Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones manned the backcourt.
“I’m incredibly happy. I’m definitely keeping my jersey right here,” LaVine said. “I might keep the shorts. I’ve always been a Lakers fan growing up. I know everything about the Lakers.
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