UCLA Pro Day: Linebacker Myles Jack is ‘capable of greatness’

Here’s a roundup from today’s UCLA Pro Day, starting with the two stories set to run in tomorrow’s LANG newspapers …

» Myles Jack wasn’t at 100 percent on Tuesday, but Jim Mora said the linebacker is “capable of greatness.”
» Mora said he could envision 11 Bruins being drafted, which would nearly double UCLA’s record in the seven-round draft era.

And video interviews from …

LB/RB/DB Myles Jack:

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark:

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PHOTOS: UCLA Pro Day showcases Bruins for NFL Draft

Myles Jack said he was operating at around “80 percent” during UCLA Pro Day on March 15. The UCLA linebacker had declared for the NFL draft shortly after tearing his meniscus in September. (Thomas Cordova/Staff)

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UCLA LB Myles Jack wants to prove he’s not an ‘urban legend’

Myles Jack will enter the upcoming NFL draft as a consensus top-10 pick, about as sure a prospect as any franchise could hope for in the inexact science of talent evaluation.

For the past several months, the main concern for most scouts has been the health of Jack’s knee. On Tuesday, the former UCLA linebacker put himself through a number of drills during the Bruins’ Pro Day on campus — showing dozens of NFL personnel that the meniscus he tore six months ago is no longer a hindrance.

“That’s why it was so important for me to come out and show myself, show face,” he said. “Move around a little bit just to show people that it’s not like a myth or urban legend or anything. I’m really here. I can move around.”

Jack said he currently feels like he’s around “80 percent,” but was able to record a 40-inch vertical — a mark that would’ve tied for eighth-best among NFL Combine participants last month. However, that’s about three or four inches below what he would have been happy with.

He also held off on running a 40-yard dash. Instead, he plans to hold another workout in front of scouts on April 1.

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‘Fire Alford’ banner flies over UCLA

UCLA just finished 15-17 in its third season under Steve Alford, giving the Bruins a losing record for just the fourth time since 1948.

That’s left plenty of fans railing against the 51-year-old coach. On Monday morning, a plane flew over campus dragging a banner that read: “UCLA DESERVES BETTER! FIRE ALFORD!”

This is not the first outcry that Alford has seen since joining the Bruins. Almost immediately after he was hired, he enraged many in and around the university by refusing to apologize for his past handling of Pierre Pierce’s sexual assault case at Iowa. A petition calling for his firing launched late this season has collected more than 1,500 signatures.

Although Alford made two Sweet 16 runs before missing the NCAA Tournament this year, he also did so with a number of NBA-bound players he did not recruit. His hopes of a turnaround rest largely on a top-five incoming recruiting class, which includes five-star prospects Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf.

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What’s next for UCLA men’s basketball under Steve Alford?

After guiding UCLA to one of its worst seasons in recent memory, what questions are facing Steve Alford and the Bruins? (Stephen Carr/Staff)

After guiding UCLA to one of its worst seasons in recent memory, what questions are facing Steve Alford and the Bruins? (Stephen Carr/Staff)

Was it a bad season? Yes. Absolutely, unequivocally, yes. Finishing with an overall record of 15-17 would qualify as bad for most major programs, let alone the one that holds more national titles than anyone else.

There shouldn’t be much dispute about this, but Steve Alford emphasized this week that the Bruins shouldn’t be dinged for a “bad season” — only for a bad two-and-a-half months. But given that the whole season only lasts about four months, this seems like a case of splitting hairs.

Most coaches should be granted leeway for the occasional bad season. It’s the timing of this season — as as well as the way it unfolded — that should cause concern about the viability of the Alford era. Yes, he reached the Sweet 16 twice, but had the benefit of inheriting a number of future NBA players. This season featured a roster almost entirely of his own design. Despite that, this team saved its worst basketball for last, losing its last five games by an average of nearly 12 points.

Can a top recruiting class turn things around? Perhaps. The nature of modern college basketball helps facilitate quick turnarounds, with one-and-done players making the type of impact that isn’t feasible in other sports. As the season spiraled down, Alford made increasingly frequent references to his top-five group of signees. He did so with good reason: Lonzo Ball is as well regarded as any point guard prospect in recent memory, and T.J. Leaf should make the frontcourt much more offensively skilled.

But Ben Howland also brought in a loaded recruiting class before his final season, landing Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams in what was a No. 2-ranked haul. Continue reading

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