NBA Draft: Steve Alford talks about Kevon Looney, Norman Powell

UCLA head coach Steve Alford answered a few questions about Kevon Looney (No. 30 overall pick, Warriors) and Norman Powell (No. 46, Raptors) after Thursday night’s NBA draft.

What are your thoughts on Looney’s fit with the defending champs?

“You can never predict the draft, and you don’t really have any say of where you go. it’s one of the first times. These guys pick their AAU, pick their high school, pick their college. it’s a different experience for them. You go in the draft, and now you get a chance to go in the first round. You get picked by the defending champs, an organization like Golden State — it just doesn’t get much better than that.

“We said the same thing last year in regard to Kyle (Anderson going to the Spurs). I think if you talk to Kyle — he didn’t play a whole lot this year, he got some minutes — but being a part of that franchise, it was an incredible year for him. I couldn’t be happier for Kevon, because he’s going to a terrific organization.”

Did concerns about Looney’s health depress his draft stock?

“There’s no question. He definitely dropped because of that. Fortunately, he dropped into a great situation, being with the franchise he’s with. But I definitely think those were some concerns. I had to field an awful lot of phone calls in the last week or two, and all of my comments were the same. He started 36 games for us. He played 32 minutes per game. He never missed a practice, never missed a game. In fact, he had a fractured cheekbone and still didn’t miss a game. He’s a very durable individual. Sometimes, when that stuff kind of hits, it grows like a wildfire and it’s hard to stop it. That part of it’s unfortunate, but in the end, it couldn’t work any better.”

What were the questions you got about his health?

“Yeah, just about the hip. Very honest in how we treated it. He sat out about two, three weeks in late summer, early fall. Once he came back, he never had any issues. He played hard and was very durable. Played about as many if not more minutes than any freshman in the country. He proved himself that way.

“But as pro teams do, and obviously they’re going to do their due diligence, you end up probably finding something wrong with every player in a draft with as much as they look into everything medically. But we saw no ill effects at all from Kevon.”

Do you see Powell primarily as a defensive specialist in the NBA, or someone who could eventually contribute both ways?

“I’m just really happy for Norman too. He’s worked so hard. He wasn’t on anybody’s draft board last year, so you can tell by just what he did coming back into his senior year, it raised his stock. He’s done a great job this spring in the workouts. there were a lot of teams calling about him and happy with what he’s doing. I think he’s got a great chance to stick and make a roster. … It’s a great opportunity for him.

“He’s a big strong physical guard. He’s got a chance to be a good defensive guard in that league. He drives the ball as well as anybody. His shooting’s getting better. His numbers have gotten better every year. You can only assume that’s going to continue to take place at the professional level. If it does, I think he’s got a chance to stick around for a long time.”