Before he lost his job, Ben Howland said Kyle Anderson would become a full-time point guard — at least on offense.
Over a month after UCLA made its coaching change, that’s no longer the case. Filling in the void left by Larry Drew II is still paramount, but the Bruins may help themselves more by utilizing the multi-talented Anderson all over the court.
“We’ve got to figure out what’s going to be best for the Kyle,” head coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve got to keep all that open as far as how many different ways we can play him.”
Since the team is restricted mostly to individual workouts, the rotation won’t be settled for months. Incoming freshmen Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford will get a shot at the job as well, but both are combo-type guards who don’t share Anderson’s natural passing vision. The 6-foot-9 point forward, whom ESPN picked as UCLA’s key returnee, was the only Pac-12 player ranked top 10 in both rebounds (8.6) and assists (3.5). As a sophomore, he may be the conference’s most potent triple-double threat.
The most glaring flaw last season was his scoring. Anderson had a release that often matched his nickname “Slow-Mo,” and was inconsistent at best creating for himself. He improved as the season went on, but still finished with an unreliable outside stroke (21 percent from 3-point range). Assistant coach Ed Schilling said the focus this summer is to tighten up Anderson’s handle, as well as to improve his shot.
“He needs to be prepared to shoot, which will then get his shot off quicker,” Schilling said. “The reason why I think his shot appears to be slow is because he’s not ready to shoot it a lot. He’s upright, and when it’s time to shoot, he’s got to get ready. He’s got to prepare to shoot, which then takes time. …
“It’s not speed. It’s a preparation issue. Whether it’s off the dribble or off the pass, being prepared to shoot at all times.”
Schilling still remembers working with Anderson at the Adidas Nations program over the past few summers. His most lasting memory of the teenager was his ball-handling skill; despite being pressed repeatedly by future All-Big-Ten selection Yogi Ferrell, Anderson rarely coughed up a turnover.
“It looks like you should be able to speed him up, but you just can’t because he’s so big,” he said. “He’s got that 7-4 wingspan. He’s just a unique player.”
» There’s still a chance UCLA adds to its three-man recruiting class, but the program is more focused on the future.
“2014 and ’15 would be the most important classes,” Alford said. “We’re going to graduate the Wears, so size, we obviously have to spend a lot of time there. The ’14 class is going to be a big class. We could sign up to five guys.”
» In case anyone was still worried, Alford said center Tony Parker won’t be transferring out: “He’s rock solid. He’s been terrific.”
» Star guard Jordan Adams, who broke his foot in the Pac-12 tournament title game, could remove his cast by the end of the month.
» Plenty of overlap exists between the assistant coaches’ duties, but Duane Broussard said he will take more of the administrative duties. Schilling is the skills and workout guru, while David Grace is sort of in between.