Jalen Hill, a five-star center who committed on Sunday to UCLA, could look significantly different when he arrives on campus in 2017.
The Corona Centennial junior-to-be turned 15 in December. He could easily be a 2018 prospect based on his age alone. Hill is touted as a defensive center, but his offensive game is developing as rapidly as his 6-foot-8 body, according to his high school coach, who noted that Hill’s father is 6-9 and his mother is “at least 6-3.”
“Most kids who are this tall this young can’t chew gum and walk, but Jalen is one of the fastest, most agile players on our team,” Centennial basketball coach Josh Giles said. “A year ago, sure, he was more of a defensive guy, but he’s increased his range and he is a much better outside shooter. He’s got much more to his game than just defense.”
Giles thought enough of Hill’s perimeter skills to call the Scout.com five-star prospect a stretch-4. Hill’s offensive development was on display earlier this month when he set a record for the 16U USA Basketball team on its way to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship. He connected on 88 percent (15 of 17) of his field goal attempts in the tournament’s five games, breaking Jahlil Okafor’s 2011 mark of 71 percent shooting.
It has been an unexpectedly eventful summer for Hill, who wasn’t anticipated to issue a commitment this early. His decision boiled down to UCLA and Arizona, according to Giles. Continue reading
UCLA head coach Jim Mora wouldn’t commit to 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore Conor McDermott making his second consecutive start at left tackle on Saturday.
With injuries and inexperience having limited him to 22 snaps entering last week’s surprise start, McDermott held up impressively for 89 plays in Saturday’s 36-34 win over Cal.
With McDermott’s start shifting former left tackle Malcolm Bunche to guard, an offensive line that allowed 24 sacks in the first six games gave up just one to Cal.
Mora, however, is still cautiously approaching his use of McDermott entering Saturday’s meeting with Colorado.
“Has he done enough to stay in the starting lineup? Yes,” Mora said. “Will he? We’ll see.”
UCLA’s matchup with Colorado on Saturday couldn’t be better timed as far as Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre is concerned. It falls on the same weekend as San Jose State’s game at Navy, creating a confluence of the four teams with strong ties to Houston Texans second-year offensive lineman David Quessenberry.
Quessenberry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma over the summer, will be honored when all four teams wear stickers with his initials on their helmets, including Quessenberry’s two younger brothers.
UCLA starting right guard Scott Quessenberry and Navy defensive end Paul Quessenberry are just two of the people involved in the pair of games that have relationships with the 24-year-old David. MacIntyre, in his second season at Colorado, was the head coach at San Jose State when David Quessenberry arrived as a walk-on tight end before transforming into a 2013 sixth-round draft pick.
Jim Mora saw enough of AT&T Stadium during his time coaching in the NFL to prompt a strategic introduction of the $1.15 billion facility to his players.
Mora plans to lead the Bruins on a thorough tour of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium on Friday in an effort to limit it as a source of distraction on Saturday.
“It’s a pretty awe-inspiring place,” Mora said. “We’re going to try and get all the giddiness out of our system. You know, look at the scoreboard and go ‘Ooh, ahh, that’s cool.’ We’re going to walk through the bar, walk around the concourses and kind of take it all in so when we arrive there on Saturday, OK, we’ve done that.”
Asked about the UCLA defense’s surprising allowances to Memphis, head coach Jim Mora mentioned only one player by name during his halftime interview, lamenting the loss of safety Randall Goforth to a separated shoulder in the first half. The Bruins are preparing to play Texas on Saturday without the junior, whose injured right shoulder is such that Mora has all but declared him out.
“We’re leaning towards doubtful and teetering on out,” Mora said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re still waiting on a little information, but I think he’s very doubtful.”
Sophomore Tahaan Goodman is expected to start in place of Goforth, whose 78 tackles ranked fourth on the team last season. Goodman, a four-star recruit who saw some time in the secondary as a freshman last season, replaced Goforth in the second half against Memphis. Also expected to see action is Jaleel Wadood, a true freshman out of St. John Bosco High School ranked the No. 7 cornerback in the country by rivals.com.