Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh are returning to UCLA

Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh are returning to UCLA, the school’s athletic department confirmed Tuesday.

Without the sophomore guard and junior center, UCLA would have lost 98.9 percent of its scoring from last season. Their return means the Bruins are losing 73.2 percent of their scoring and gaining the the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, which includes two McDonald’s All-Americans.

READ: Thomas Welsh, Aaron Holiday choose UCLA over NBA

Welsh and Holiday were two of five UCLA underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft in April. Freshmen Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu also declared and have each hired agents, sealing their departure from UCLA. The Bruins also graduated senior starters Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton, meaning they would have lost their top seven scorers had Welsh and Holiday remained in the draft.

Instead, UCLA retains its 7-foot starting center, the team’s leading rebounder last season. Holiday is now the team’s top returning scorer, and a much needed body in a thin backcourt that figures to receive heavy contrubutions from incoming freshman Jaylen Hands and redshirt sophomore Prince Ali, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Continue reading “Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh are returning to UCLA” »

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TJ Leaf’s intellect, charisma only helping his draft stock


TJ Leaf was lauded for his interview skills as much as anything during the NBA Draft Combine last week. The former UCLA power forward interviewed with 14 teams at the combine and has since worked out with three teams individually.

On Thursday, the projected first-round pick worked out for the Toronto Raptors – the Raptors pick 23rd in the first round – after which he talked about everything from his ability to score on three levels to whether Lonzo Ball would provide him some Big Baller Brand basketball shoes.

Leaf was the life of the party in the UCLA locker room last season, and gave some insight into what a charismatic person he is before stiffening up with the media as the season went along. Continue reading “TJ Leaf’s intellect, charisma only helping his draft stock” »

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Post-lottery NBA mock drafts slot UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu

It’s nearly impossible to find a mock draft projecting Lonzo Ball to be selected by a team other than the Lakers. (AP photo)

Where do UCLA’s NBA prospects fit now that the draft order is in place?

Tuesday’s draft lottery likely only effected one of them, but Lonzo Ball’s destination seems more certain than ever. It is nearly impossible to find a mock draft that doesn’t project the former UCLA point guard as the No. 2 pick to the Lakers.

Even CBS Sports’ mock draft forecasts Ball to the Lakers despite slotting Duke’s Jason Tatum as the top pick to Boston, dropping near-consensus No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz to the 76ers at pick No. 3.

The Trailblazers and Raptors – Portland owns picks 15 and 20 while Toronto picks 23rd – are popular destinations for TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu, the two other UCLA players expected to be drafted.

Anigbogu, who averaged just 4.7 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes per game during his lone season at UCLA, is largely moving up on draft boards after the NBA Draft Combine last week. His best projection is 15th to the Chicago Bulls in Sports Illustrated’s mock draft. On the lowest end of the scale, NBADraft.net has Anigbogu dropping to the Magic with the fifth pick of the second round.

Leaf, who aptly showed off his range of offensive skills as the leading scorer for college basketball’s most efficient offense last season, is projected to be selected as high as 14th by the Miami Heat in The Sporting News mock draft. Leaf is a consensus first-round pick, but Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders predicts him to fall to 28th, where the Lakers will use their second first-round pick, No. 28 overall, to reunite him with Ball.

Mock drafts:
ESPN: Ball (No. 2, Lakers); Leaf (No. 18, Pacers); Anigbogu (No. 20, Trailblazers).
Sports Illustrated: Ball (No. 2, Lakers); Anigbogu (No. 15, Trailblazers); Leaf (No. 23, Raptors).
CBS Sports: Ball (No. 2, Lakers); Anigbogu (No. 16, Bulls); Leaf (No. 23, Raptors).
The Sporting News: Ball (No. 2, Lakers); Leaf (No. 14, Heat); Anigbogu (No. 23, Raptors). Continue reading “Post-lottery NBA mock drafts slot UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu” »

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Maurice Jones-Drew leads 2017 UCLA Hall of Fame Class

Maurice Jones-Drew (pictured in 2005) will be inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame this year. (Photo by Stephen Dunn /Getty Images)

Three-time NFL Pro-Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew leads UCLA’s nine-member 2017 Hall of Fame Class, which was announced on Wednesday.

The group, which includes three Olympians and a combined 17 national championships, will be inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 and honored during halftime of UCLA’s game against Oregon at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 21.

Jones-Drew left UCLA in 2005 with school records in career and single-season all-purpose yards, touchdowns in a game, single-game rushing yards and single-season punt returns for touchdowns. His punt return average of 28.5 yards in 2005 is still the NCAA record. During his NFL career, he rushed for 1,000-yards three times, including a league-leading 1,606 in 2011.

Other Hall of Fame inductees: Continue reading “Maurice Jones-Drew leads 2017 UCLA Hall of Fame Class” »

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Lonzo Ball confirms his mother suffered a stroke


Lonzo Ball said his mother Tina Ball suffered a stroke in late February, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Ball learned of the stroke during a UCLA practice when he received a text message from a relative. His father, LaVar Ball, was upset with the relative because he was waiting to tell Lonzo about his mother’s condition in person that evening at his brothers’ basketball game.

Lonzo said he sees his mother four or five times a week and her condition is improving.

“She can’t really talk right now, but I mean, she definitely, she knows what we’re saying,” Lonzo said. “She smiles all the time, so that’s a good thing.”

LaVar Ball, 49, was attending to his wife at home and didn’t make the trip to Memphis, Tenn., for UCLA’s loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament regional semifinal, Lonzo’s last collegiate game before declaring for the NBA draft.

LaVar wanted to keep news of the stroke from the public so things could stay quiet for his three sons as they finished basketball season. Continue reading “Lonzo Ball confirms his mother suffered a stroke” »

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