Tony Parker out with back spasms as UCLA faces Oregon State

UCLA is still without center Tony Parker, who did not travel with the Bruins to Oregon State on Thursday due to back spasms.

Barring a late flight up, Parker does not appear on track to play against Oregon on Saturday either. Without the junior big man, UCLA offense looked abysmal against the Beavers in the first half — shooting just 7 of 30 and falling into a 29-19 hole at the break.

Parker had averaged 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in the last four games, and even in losses, UCLA’s offense looked best when it could utilize him as part of an inside-out attack.

Freshman Thomas Welsh, who made his first career start in place of Parker, made the first basket of the game for the Bruins at Gill Coliseum. However, the team struggled to find rhythm after that, missing 14 straight shots.

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Defensive end Benning Potoa’e picks Washington over UCLA

Defensive end Benning Potoa’e has verbally committed to Washington over UCLA, choosing to stay close to home.

The four-star prospect was regarded as one of the top recruits in his state, and is a product of Lakes High in Lakewood — located an hour or so south of the UW campus. His older brother, Sione, was a former defensive tackle for the Huskies.

Washington has done a better job of landing in-state recruits since hiring Chris Petersen in December 2013. All but three of the top-10 prospects in the 2012 and 2013 recruiting cycles left the state, according to Rivals.com rankings. In 2014, the Huskies secured four commitments from similarly ranked recruits — and beat out UCLA for touted safety Budda Baker.

With Potoa’e, UW now has half of the in-state top-10 in 2015.

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UCLA recruit announcement schedule

UCLA’s recruiting class could change most dramatically on Feb. 4, when top prospects such as tight end Chris Clark and defensive tackle Joseph Wicker are slated to make Signing Day announcements. But there are a few other players scheduled to make their official decisions this week — ones that could provide surprise boosts to the Bruins’ haul.

Benning Potoa’e, DE, 6-4/265, Lakewood (Wash.)
Rating: Four stars, No. 18 position (Scout) … No. 21 (Rivals)
Announcement: 2:15 p.m. PT, Thursday, 1/22
Finalists: UCLA, Washington
Latest: Washington had most of buzz this week, but Huskies coach Chris Petersen reportedly moved his in-home visit from Thursday evening — which would have followed the announcement — to yesterday evening. Continue reading

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UCLA center Tony Parker day-to-day with back spasms

As UCLA prepares to leave Los Angeles, it might find itself shorthanded on yet another crucial road trip.

In the midst of a strong stretch, junior center Tony Parker is currently day-to-day with back spasms. The problems flared up this past weekend, when the Bruins reconvened for practice after beating USC last Wednesday. Parker is averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in his last four games, and has become a crucial part of the team’s inside-out offensive formula.

Head coach Steve Alford said Parker, who did not practice on Tuesday, is likely a game-time decision for UCLA’s Thursday game at Oregon State.

“We’ve just got to see,” Alford said. “At 6-9, 255, 260 (pounds), back spasms can be problematic. We just want to get it calmed down before we get him back out there.” Continue reading

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Brett Hundley among NFL draft early entries leaving with degree

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley poses for photos during Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Theater on July 24, 2014. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

In addition to his many spots in the UCLA record books, quarterback Brett Hundley has joined another small club.

The NFL draft early entry deadline passed last Thursday, and 84 players were declared eligible for selection. Of those, 10 — including Hundley, who majored in sociology — notified the league that they had already graduated.

The others are: Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes, Auburn receiver Sammie Coates, Akron receiver Zach D’Orazio, Louisville defensive back Charles Gaines, Colorado State running back Dee Hart, Kansas receiver Nigel King, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Penn State offensive tackle Donovan Smith, and Appalachian State receiver Tacoi Sumler.

The NFL granted the remaining 74 players special eligibility because they had been out of high school for at least three years. The Pac-12 accounted for 16 of those athletes, a tally that dipped from the 98 that left school early in 2014.

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UCLA’s Anthony Jefferson joins Senior Bowl, Eric Kendricks out

UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson stands over Oregon receiver Keanon Lowe after making a tackle at the Rose Bowl during the Bruins' 42-30 loss on Oct. 11, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson stands over Oregon receiver Keanon Lowe after making a tackle at the Rose Bowl during the Bruins’ 42-30 loss on Oct. 11, 2014.
(Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Quarterback Brett Hundley declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but another UCLA player became a late add to the all-star roster: defensive back Anthony Jefferson.

Spending time at both corner and safety, Jefferson made 72 tackles and eight pass breakups this season, ranking third and first for the Bruins, respectively. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound defensive back was one of six UCLA players to make the All-Pac-12 second-team defense.

UCLA’s only other Senior Bowl participant will be defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Continue reading

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Tight end Alize Jones flips from UCLA to Notre Dame

Tight end Alize Jones has officially decommitted from UCLA and picked Notre Dame, ending a relationship with the Bruins that had cooled for weeks.

The Las Vegas Bishop Gorman product is rated the second-best tight end in the country by both Scout.com and Rivals.com, with the former granting him five stars to the latter’s four. UCLA has spent its recent recruiting efforts focused on No. 1 tight end Chris Clark, who is regarded as a better blocker than Jones.

Clark — a 6-foot-5, 253-pounder from Avon (Conn.) Old Farms School — decommitted from Michigan in early December, but the Wolverines piqued his interest again by hiring head coach Jim Harbaugh.

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about UCLA’s 83-66 win at USC

UCLA point guard Bryce Alford scored 21 points in the Bruins’ win at USC on Wednesday, his highest total in more than a month. The sophomore poured in 15 after halftime, and finished 8-of-14 from the field — including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

He had shot 20.6 percent in his last five games.

“It’s just confidence,” Alford said. “You see a couple go down, you see a couple of tough ones go down — I made a couple of tough ones today. A couple of fadeaways that, I know that I don’t need to take, but sometimes when you’re feeling it and it goes in, it’s a good shot.”

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