UCLA last won the Maui Invitational in 2006. Doing so again this year would be a big statement for Steve Alford.
The eight-team tournament will signal the Bruins’ first significant competition of the season, starting with UNLV on Nov. 23 at 8:30 pm PT (ESPN2). The Runnin’ Rebels have regressed under head coach Dave Rice — missing the NCAA tournament the last two years — but still have a talented roster that includes five-star center Stephen Zimmerman.
After that game, UCLA will face either Kansas or Chaminade the next day. The other side of the tournament bracket consists of St. John’s, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Indiana.
“You get a really good litmus test right away,” Alford said. “You get a really good feel from a coaching standpoint, playing three games in a row against quality opponents. You’re going to get a really good idea and picture of who your team is going into December.” Continue reading →
UCLA will break ground on its new football and basketball practice facilities in August, less than two years after fundraising first began.
An official ceremony will be held on Thursday, Aug. 27 for both the Wasserman Football Center and Mo Ostin Basketball Center, west of Spaulding Field and southwest of Pauley Pavilion. Football and basketball head coaches Jim Mora, Steve Alford and Cori Close will be present, as will donors Casey Wasserman and Mo Ostin.
“This is confirmation that UCLA will continue as the premier intercollegiate athletics program in the nation while remaining a force to be reckoned with well into the future,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. Continue reading →
The Corona Centennial junior-to-be turned 15 in December. He could easily be a 2018 prospect based on his age alone. Hill is touted as a defensive center, but his offensive game is developing as rapidly as his 6-foot-8 body, according to his high school coach, who noted that Hill’s father is 6-9 and his mother is “at least 6-3.”
“Most kids who are this tall this young can’t chew gum and walk, but Jalen is one of the fastest, most agile players on our team,” Centennial basketball coach Josh Giles said. “A year ago, sure, he was more of a defensive guy, but he’s increased his range and he is a much better outside shooter. He’s got much more to his game than just defense.”
Giles thought enough of Hill’s perimeter skills to call the Scout.com five-star prospect a stretch-4. Hill’s offensive development was on display earlier this month when he set a record for the 16U USA Basketball team on its way to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship. He connected on 88 percent (15 of 17) of his field goal attempts in the tournament’s five games, breaking Jahlil Okafor’s 2011 mark of 71 percent shooting.
It has been an unexpectedly eventful summer for Hill, who wasn’t anticipated to issue a commitment this early. His decision boiled down to UCLA and Arizona, according to Giles. Continue reading →