Spring notes: Head coach Jim Mora talks up cornerback Fabian Moreau

– Head coach Jim Mora pointed out much of Fabian Moreau’s progress at cornerback, going so far into the hyperbole as to call him a potential All-American.

While it might still be too early to ink that sort of praise, Moreau is clearly turning himself into UCLA’s best defensive back. Even Mora couldn’t resist; in the span of four minutes or so, Mora went from saying he didn’t notice Moreau much (a good thing) to saying the former high school tailback is a future first-round NFL draft pick.

– Mora also said next Saturday’s “Spring Showcase” will involve a lot more actual football than it did last year. Continue reading

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Offensive guard Tevita Halalilo commits to UCLA

Four-star offensive guard Tevita Halalilo has committed to UCLA, according to Scout.com. The Morena Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde standout is rated 10th at his position nationally.

He is the sixth commitment in UCLA’s 2015 class, but the first lineman in a group that also includes top quarterback Josh Rosen and tight end Alize Jones.

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UCLA to play home-and-home basketball series with Gonzaga

Gonzaga will visit Pauley Pavilion this winter, beefing up what should be a much more impressive nonconference schedule for UCLA basketball.

Zags athletic director Mike Roth told the Gonzaga Bulletin that the game will be a part of a home-and-home series with UCLA, with the Bruins visiting Spokane in 2015-16.

The Bulldogs finished 29-7 this past season, losing to Arizona in the round of 32. They will have four-star point guard Josh Perkins, whom UCLA missed on last summer, as well as Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer.

Bruins head coach Steve Alford has said often that he wants to schedule more marquee games, and also secured one against title-game finalist Kentucky this December at the United Center in Chicago. In his first season, Alford faced a nonconference schedule that included only two top-50 RPI teams: Missouri and Duke, the latter squeezed in as a last-minute addition.

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VIDEO: Assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu talks about UCLA tailbacks

Asked if he had a prospective starting tailback yet, assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu went with the stock answer: They’re all No. 1, and they’ll all contribute.

Linebacker Myles Jack, who rushed for seven touchdowns in four games last year, won’t be among the group for the foreseeable future. Though it wouldn’t be surprising for the two-way Pac-12 Freshman of the Year to get some offensive reps once the season starts, he hasn’t practiced there at all this spring.

“I’ve been told, ‘Stay away,’” Polamalu said.

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Spring notes: Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich relishes breaking up scuffles

– Thursday’s practice featured a fight that started, as usual, when a few receivers and defensive backs got in each other’s faces. The main culprits: Jalen Ortiz and Tyler Scott on offense, and Ishmael Adams and Tahaan Goodman on defense.

Head coach Jim Mora stopped practice to admonish the team as a whole. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich talked a bit about managing player emotions, but actually sort of enjoyed jumping in and pulling players apart.

“It brings me back to my playing days,” he said. “I kind of like it. Maybe too much. The potential of someone hitting me … it was awesome.”

– Ulbrich also said that the experiment of putting Zach Whitley at outside linebacker is over. The four-star early enrollee looks far more comfortable inside, where he has returned since missing Monday’s practice due to a bruise.

“It was a thing where, we thought he could maybe compete outside and that might be the best situation for our defense,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true anymore.” Continue reading

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Leading scorer Jordan Adams to return to UCLA for junior season

Leading scorer Jordan Adams will return for his junior season at UCLA, a source confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

The Pac-12′s seventh-leading scorer was mulling an entry into the NBA draft, and filed paperwork to receive feedback on his status. Point guard Kyle Anderson, a third-team AP All-American, and reserve guard Zach LaVine had already declared their intentions to go pro.

As a sophomore, Adams led the Bruins with 17.4 points per game, and set a new school record with 95 steals. The 6-foot-5 wing’s return is the most significant offseason news for a team that is coming off its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008. Continue reading

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Four-star forward Jonah Bolden signs with UCLA

Four-star forward Jonah Bolden signed a national letter of intent with UCLA on Wednesday, officially giving the Bruins the fourth commitment in their 2014 class.

The versatile 6-foot-9 Australian verbally committed in December, and will fill out a frontcourt that should improve despite the graduation of David and Travis Wear. Bolden spent the fall semester at Las Vegas Findlay Prep, then led Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to the National Prep Championship.

“We are thrilled to add a player of Jonah’s caliber to our program,” head coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “Not only is he a talented young man, but he’s also very coachable, has great character and will immediately add to our team’s depth.

He joins a haul that already includes five-star forward Kevon Looney, four-star center Thomas Welsh and three-star forward Gyorgy Goloman — all of whom inked their letters during the November signing period. UCLA’s class is ranked seventh in the country by Scout.com.

The second NLI signing period started today, and ends on May 21.

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