About Clay Fowler

Clay Fowler is a Dallas native, graduated from the University of Texas and worked in Central Texas for two years before joining the Daily Bulletin staff in 2006.

Alford says Anderson, Adams can compensate for lack of athleticism

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.”

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Alford: LaVine took advantage of UCLA brand, system to raise draft stock

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.”

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Travis Wear to return Friday; Allen possibly out six weeks

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.”

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Travis Wear could be out a month due to appendicitis

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.

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