UCLA’s Kevon Looney officially declares for the NBA draft

Kevon Looney has officially declared for the NBA draft, becoming the third player in the last three years to leave UCLA after his freshman season.

A five-star recruit out of Milwaukee, the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds and made the All-Pac-12 second team. He sustained a facial fracture during the Pac-12 Tournament, but continued playing with a mask during the Bruins’ Sweet 16 run.

He is projected by many NBA mock drafts as a potential lottery pick.

“This was a really tough decision for me because there were so many positives both ways,” Looney said in a statement. “My time at UCLA has been unbelievable, and I know I’ll be a Bruin forever. But playing in the NBA is a dream I’ve had for so long, and this feels like the right time to pursue that dream and make the transition to the next level. Continue reading

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Norman Powell eyeing late first, early second rounds of NBA draft

Norman Powell is taking it easy, relatively speaking.

In his final season at UCLA, he averaged 34.6 minutes per game — nearly nine more than he did the season prior. Before he dives fully into preparing for the NBA draft, the 6-foot-4 guard is giving himself time to recover with lighter workouts.

Based on conversations with UCLA head coach Steve Alford, he also has a good idea of where he might be drafted.

“What he’s heard is the late first round, early second round,” said Powell, who led the Bruins with 16.4 points through their second straight trip to the Sweet 16. “I know a lot’s going to depend on my combine, my workouts and my interviews. Really preparing for that and ready to go in there and work. I know I control where I could possibly end up.”

He has meetings set up with three different agents on Thursday, and hopes to make a final decision by Sunday or Monday. Whoever he picks will then guide him through the rest of the process, including where he will actually train for the draft.

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UCLA’s Kevon Looney could make NBA draft decision soon

UPDATE: Kevon Looney is close to choosing his representation, according to RealGM, and has plans to declare for the NBA draft.

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Kevon Looney has not yet announced whether or not he will leave UCLA and declare for the NBA draft, but head coach Steve Alford doesn’t think the wait will last much longer.

“I think it’ll probably be a quicker decision versus something that’s going to be drawn out,” Alford said.

Although the 6-foot-9 freshman forward left the door open for a return to school last week, it’s difficult to imagine him turning down a chance to become a lottery pick this June. Continue reading

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Post-season thoughts on the state of UCLA basketball

UCLA’s basketball offseason is nearly three days old. Before the post-hoops period of 2015 continues, Steve Alford is scheduled to speak to the media again on Tuesday afternoon.

Before then, here’s a couple of pieces from Sunday’s paper for anyone that missed them:
— My season recap on UCLA basketball, whose long-term future is still a bit unclear despite a Sweet 16 run.
— Columnist Tom Hoffarth talks to longtime UCLA announcer Chris Roberts about his retirement, and names a few of the candidates vying to replace him.

A thoughts on how the Bruins finished and where they’re going next …

1. UCLA’s going to back-to-back Sweet 16s doesn’t necessarily mean you should expect a third. The Bruins could certainly be better next season. They will have more depth in the backcourt, though losing freshman Kevon Looney would be a tremendous blow to the frontcourt. Gyorgy Goloman looks like a nice under-the-radar find, but I think he and center Thomas Welsh will pay bigger dividends as juniors rather than sophomores. Introducing former four-star recruit Jonah Bolden will help significantly; he spent his ineligible season transitioning from the four to the three, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts immediately.

But it is unreasonable to expect the type of good fortune that has followed UCLA these past two postseasons. The Bruins deserve credit for taking advantage of their opportunities, but drawing a double-digit seed twice in the round of 32 is as friendly a path as any team could hope to see. At least Stephen F. Austin was a team that was good enough to return to the NCAA Tournament this season; I’m not sure the same can be said for UAB, which was likely one of the 10 weakest teams in the whole field.

Let’s hazard a guess and say that the Bruins draw a No. 5- or 6-seed in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Will they be able to knock off a fourth- or third-seeded team to end the weekend? Continue reading

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PHOTOS: UCLA’s season ends in 74-62 loss to Gonzaga

Photos from UCLA’s 74-62 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, March 27, one that ended the Bruins’ season in the Sweet 16. (AP/Getty)

— UCLA’s surprising tournament run ended Friday, when Gonzaga beat the Bruins as soundly as they did three months ago.
— The scene from the UCLA locker room, and likely goodbye to both Norman Powell and Kevon Looney.
— Columnist Vincent Bonsignore, on how the slipper never quite fit for these Bruins.

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