Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt are learning all about the college life.
Not just about hectic class schedules and 40-pound history books, but about life in college basketball, as well.
The two UCLA freshmen have been thrust into the starting lineup – Honeycutt getting his first starting gig against Cal last Wednesday – and head coach Ben Howland has had to do some teaching on the fly, particularly on the glass.
Both skilled, athletic jumpers, Nelson and Honeycutt lead the team at 5.8 rebounds per game, despite essentially having to learn how to box out for the first time.
“You’d be surprised at some of the fundamentals that are not habits coming out of high school,” Howland said. “Blocking out is one of them. Tyler is a very good rebounder – he goes and gets it with two hands, he’s quick to the ball – but there are also times where he is getting blocked out and he can be even a better rebounder.”
Nelson’s rebounding numbers have increased with his playing time, but he has also been non-existent on the boards at times, with three rebounds each in 32 minutes at Cal and in 28 minutes against Delaware State.
“It definitely is an adjustment – you never had to really box out against high school players; you just had the ability right off the bat,” said Nelson, who averages 10.3 points per game. “It’s just repetition and getting used to it, that’s all.”
Honeycutt, meanwhile, appears to be getting used to it just fine.
In his last three games, the Sylmar High product has 25 rebounds, including 10 against Cal. While his offensive game is still being refined – he has nine points in those three games and is averaging 4.5 for the season – he is trying to do the little things.
“I knew there were going to be things that I needed to work on that I didn’t have to do in high school,” Honeycutt said. “Especially with rebounding – I was always the most athletic, pretty much the tallest guy. I didn’t have to box out; I would just go up and get the rebound. It’s still kind of that way, but there are a lot of times where I don’t get the ball because I didn’t box out.
“As teams start to see that I am a good rebounder, that they’re going to have to lay a body on me, I’m going to have to lay a body right back. ”