Mike Mayock: Brett Hundley might not improve stock at NFL Combine

Towards the end of his final season at UCLA, quarterback Brett Hundley often took questions about 1) his college legacy, and 2) what he thought about his NFL draft stock. For the most part, the three-year starter played it cool — stressing that his body of work would stand out over anything else.

Heading into this week’s NFL Combine, draft guru Mike Mayock sort of echoed those thoughts.

“I don’t think he can change what the negatives are about him by throwing 20 passes in shorts,” said the longtime NFL Network analyst. “Having said that, I think he should (participate in full). There’s people that think he ducked the Senior Bowl, even though there was some medical that says it was okay for him not to be there obviously.

“My perspective is he should show up and rip it. He just ought to let it go. The things that are hurting him in the evaluation process are anticipation, pocket awareness, things like that that you can’t really show at the combine.”

On-field workouts for quarterbacks are scheduled for Saturday, along with those of running backs and wide receivers. Hundley remains in the second-tier of what is widely regarded as a thin quarterback class, behind potential top picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest, because of course he did

In case anyone somehow forgot, Zach LaVine is still very, very good at dunking.

UCLA’s latest one-and-done product wasn’t a major part of the Bruins’ Sweet 16 run last year, but there was a reason he went from the Pauley Pavilion bench to NBA lottery pick. The 19-year-old is undergoing his expected growing pains (7.6 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds) with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but if there was any competition he was meant for, it was the Slam Dunk Contest.

He won, and it wasn’t close. LaVine opened the Saturday night event with a pair of perfect 50 dunks, then creamed Victor Oladipo with scores of 45 and 49 to the latter’s 31 and 44.

You can check out other dunk highlights and scores at Yahoo! Sports, including the Space Jam intro to LaVine’s first dunk.

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Photos: UCLA ties for third in Pac-12 after beating Oregon

Photos from UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 14, including a halftime ceremony to honor the 1995 championship team. (Michael Owen Baker/Daily News)

– The game story on UCLA’s 72-63 win over Oregon at Pauley Pavilion, one that featured a highlight-reel day from Norman Powell.
Mark Whicker’s column on how Tony Parker’s presence has helped keep the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

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VIDEO: Norman Powell goes between his legs for huge dunk

Oregon arrived at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday with one of the most trigger-happy offenses in the league, and UCLA happily fell into that long-distance style. The two teams combined to take 28 3-pointers in the first half, out of 60 total field-goal attempts.

But the play of the half belonged instead to Norman Powell, the Bruins’ freight train of a guard. The senior has improved his 3-point shooting this year — from 29.4 to 33.3 percent — but his bread and butter is still attacking the paint. He did that against the Ducks, using a stiff Thomas Welsh screen and a through-his-legs dribble to set up a vicious dunk.

“That’s Norman,” said head coach Steve Alford. “He’s SportsCenter. He does that. There’s one of those a game. That one — that move there — was as good as it’s been all year long. … I’ve never seen a pick-and-roll split like that.”

Added Powell: “I saw a little space where he hedged out too fast before I came off the screen. The rest was just instincts.”

The 6-foot-4 guard led the Bruins with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, helping them to a 72-63 win.

Video h/t @cjzero / The Cauldron

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At a glance: UCLA vs. Oregon

UCLA Bruins (15-10, 7-5) vs. Oregon (18-7, 8-4)
Tipoff: Saturday, Feb. 14, 12:07 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: Oregon is a run-and-gun offense, one that can bury a team quickly if its shooters heat up. That’s what happened to UCLA when it traveled to Eugene last month. The Bruins played a level of defense that veered from lackadaisical to putrid — allowing the Ducks to shoot 75 percent from the field in the first half of an 82-64 blowout.

UCLA senior Norman Powell called out the team for its defensive effort in Eugene, and it might be up to him again to make sure there isn’t a letdown after stifling Oregon State on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Oregon’s own defense is paper thin. Since conference play started, the team has allowed opponents to make 53.2 percent of their 2-point shots — a huge hole that UCLA should be able to exploit if it can establish an inside-out attack. Continue reading

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UCLA looks to bounce back from 2014′s ninth-place Pac-12 finish

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA closer David Berg pitches against Cal State Fullerton in the 2013 NCAA Super Regional. Berg returned for his senior season in 2015, turning down a 17th-round draft selection by the Texas Rangers. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA baseball placed ninth in the Pac-12 last season, an injury-riddled down year that marked its first finish outside the conference’s top three since 2005 — head coach John Savage’s debut season.

Two years removed from their first NCAA title, the Bruins enter 2015 with a mix of experience and young talent as they set their sights on another trip to Omaha. Most notable is the pitching staff, which features Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year candidate James Kaprielian and star closer David Berg. The season starts at 6 p.m. today, with a weekend series against Hofstra.

A few notes that didn’t make the season preview, which ran in today’s paper and also touches on the potential effects of the sport’s new flat-seam ball:

– Asked if he learned anything in particular from last season’s ninth-place finish, Savage said: “Confidence is very fragile. This is a very humbling game. You’re really only as good as your last game. That’s how I look at it. Maybe when I get away and look at the big picture, it’s a little different. But you’re competitive. You don’t like taking the losses that we took last year. You want to fight. You want to compete.” Continue reading

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Roquan Smith picks Georgia nine days after announcing for UCLA

What started as one of UCLA’s most pleasant Signing Day surprises has finally fizzled out. Four-star linebacker Roquan Smith signed with Georgia on Friday, nine days after initially announcing for the Bruins on ESPNU.

His news wasn’t exactly a shocker — not after he essentially accused the UCLA staff of lying to him in an interview with Rivals.com this week. The top prospect out of Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County had yet to sign his letter of intent last Wednesday when news broke that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was leaving the Bruins to become the Atlanta Falcons’ linebackers coach.

After the debacle became a national story, Smith decided to sign a grant-in-aid agreement instead of an NLI. That leaves him the option to change schools without penalty until he enrolls.

UCLA finishes its 2015 class at No. 13 nationally on Rivals.com, and No. 9 on Scout.com.

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VIDEO: Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s 75-59 win vs Oregon State

Steve Alford talks about UCLA’s 75-59 win over Oregon State, one the Bruins opened with four straight 3-pointers and a stingy defensive performance. The two teams are now tied for fifth place in the Pac-12.

“We’re in a stretch here where we’ve been playing some really good basketball, and we’re going to need that,” he said.

RELATED:
– Mark Whicker’s column on UCLA’s 1995 championship team, which will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against Oregon.

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