UCLA true freshman quarterback Aaron Sharp made his first appearance in Southern California on Tuesday. The three-star recruit from Humble, Texas was expected to remain home until Aug. 31 due to rules violations, but jogged onto the sideline an hour and a half after practice began on Tuesday.
The 6-3, 190-pound dual-threat quarterback, who was originally committed to Kansas State before flipping to the Bruins in January, flew in from Houston but not in time to participate in any drills Tuesday.
Fellow freshmen Jordan Lasley and Dwight Williams debuted on Monday night.
Transfer offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche gushed on Tuesday about being chosen to man the most important position on the offensive line in front of Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley.
The graduate student who transferred from Miami (Fla.) in time for spring practice has played every position on the offensive line during his college career and is projected to start at left tackle in UCLA’s season opener.
“It’s a tremendous honor playing the blind side for one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college football,” Bunche said. “I just got to keep grinding, working hard on the position and protect my man Brett.” Continue reading
The prognosis for UCLA starting center Jake Brendel’s knee injury is positive. The third-year starter strained his MCL late in Monday’s practice, but head coach Jim Mora estimated it will only keep him out a few days.
If Brendel is to meet that timeline, he appears to have some quick healing to do.
He was in attendance on Tuesday wearing a bulky brace on his left knee. He walked with a severe limp and was able to only slightly bend the knee.
“He’s not OK, but he’s going to be,” Mora said. “He’ll be out a few days. It’s an MCL. It’s pretty moderate. There’s a lot of guys that are out… but it’s really just the customary bumps and bruises you get 10 days into training camp. We’re relatively healthy.”
Injury concerns for a banged up UCLA football team turned more serious on Tuesday. Wide receiver Devin Lucien suffered a head injury worrisome enough that an ambulance was called to transport the redshirt junior to the hospital in the midst of practice at Cal State San Bernardino.
Arguably the best wideout for the Bruins 10 practices into training camp, Lucien was injured when he hit his helmet on the ground after making a diving catch. He left the field under his own power, eventually making his way to the trainer’s tent.
After he was treated for 15 minutes by UCLA team doctor John DiFiori, a head injury specialist, the San Bernardino County Fire Department and paramedics arrived. Lucien was then immobilized on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.
“I think anytime something like that happens and you seen an ambulance come on to the field of play, it’s tough,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. Continue reading
Of the UCLA trio selected in first round of Thursday’s NBA draft, one was chosen based almost solely on athletic ability. The other two, not so much.
Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams may have to combine their test results to equal Zach LaVine’s 46-inch vertical, but UCLA coach Steve Alford isn’t worried about the criticism of his two sophomores’ athleticism. The 22nd and 30th picks of the draft may be diving into the deep end of the talent pool next season, but Alford is confident they’re in particularly good shape for the NBA above the shoulders.
“I think athleticism is way overrated for the most part,” Alford said. “You can either play or you can’t play and Jordan really understands how to play. You could give me the most athletic guy that we’ve played against collegiately this year and Jordan probably outplayed him because of being smarter and being tougher.”
To the credit of Adams, chosen 22nd by the Memphis Grizzlies, the 6-foot-5 guard was more than just a scorer at UCLA. He set a school record with 95 steals last season, an impressive statistic for someone projected as a potential defensive liability in the NBA.
Alford echoed some of his sentiments about Adams when referencing Anderson, who was selected 30th by the San Antonio Spurs. The third college basketball player in the last 30 years to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a season, the 6-foot-9 Anderson made a compelling case for Alford’s argument that he is a truly unique player with more than athleticism to lean on at the next level.
“As good a basketball IQ as I’ve coached,” Alford said of Anderson. “Sometimes a lot of people get wrapped up in athleticism and being able to jump over the backboard but do you know how to play the game?”
“I told him (Friday) morning, you don’t change who you are but you’ve got to take advantage of going to a franchise, an organization that really gets it from the bottom all the way to the top. So listen. Listen to people. You’ve always been coachable. Make sure you stay that way.”
In Steve Alford’s estimation, it wasn’t just Zach LaVine’s freakish athleticism that vaulted the freshman into the elite lottery portion of Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Wearing the UCLA letters across his chest for his lone collegiate season had plenty to do with LaVine becoming the 13th overall selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves, not to mention the fast-paced offensive approach employed by UCLA’s first-year coach.
“(LaVine) came in and he used the brand and this system,” Alford said. “I’ve always said it’s a very, very powerful brand and I think our style of play getting up and down the floor allows somebody like that to flourish and he had a tremendous freshman year.”
Though LaVine played just 37 college basketball games before achieving such lofty status, Alford didn’t know he had a lottery pick on his hands when the freshman reported to Westwood last summer.
“I don’t think you ever think that,” Alford said. “The NBA is a whole different level and mind set. We saw him this summer and he had incredible athleticism.
“To say we saw him being a lottery pick last summer, no.”
Monday was the last time Travis Wear won’t be wearing a uniform under his warm-ups.
UCLA’s starting power forward missed the first three games of the season after undergoing an appendectomy Oct. 28, but will return for Friday’s game against Morehead State. Indications were the senior could return Monday, but he is yet to practice with the team or endure contact drills.
“He’s been no contact,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “They way I understand it, it’s not something you gradually have to get back in. Because of the surgery, it’s basically a matter of days, or in his case, weeks, and then once that passes you’re free to go. He’s felt very, very good, but there’s a timetable we had to stick to.”
Travis Wear, one of three returning starters for the UCLA basketball team, is expected to be sidelined for two and a half to four weeks after having surgery to remove his appendix Monday, according to a UCLA spokesperson.
The 6-foot-10, 230-pound Wear, the Bruins’ third-leading scorer last season, averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in 32 games, starting all but one. His twin brother, David Wear, had 12 points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes of a 96-66 preseason win over Cal State San Bernardino on Wednesday.