NBA combine roundup: Zach LaVine wows with athleticism

To understand just how well Zach LaVine did at this week’s NBA Draft Combine, take a look at these numbers: first, second, eighth, fourth, third.

That’s what he placed in strength and agility drills among 59 participants, doing so with — respectively — a 10.42-second lane agility drill, a 2.8-second shuttle run, a 3.19-second three-quarter sprint, a 33.5-inch standing vertical, and a 41.5-inch max vertical. No one else placed top-10 in all five.

The NBA combine doesn’t usually move draft stock as much as the NFL’s does, so top prospects often sit out of drills. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid all sat out completely this year, not even traveling to Chicago for interviews and measurements.

That said, this is exactly the type of environment LaVine was going to use to his advantage. Continue reading

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UCLA football, men’s basketball APR scores trending up

Both UCLA football and men’s basketball teams have earned their highest academic progress rates in a decade.

The former scored a four-year APR of 979 for the 2012-13 academic year, second in the Pac-12 behind Stanford. The program’s multi-year score has improved each year since it recorded a 915 in 2004-05.

Basketball was seventh in the conference at 969 — a significant improvement from the 951, 942 and 948 it scored in the three prior academic years.

Head coach Jim Mora earned a $50,000 bonus for having the football team reach an APR of at least 930, and a graduation success rate of more than 56 percent. Steve Alford earned a $10,000 bonus for having the men’s basketball team clear an APR of 925.

To compete in the NCAA postseason, teams must have a minimum four-year APR of 900 or a two-year average of 930. Starting in 2014-15, that bar rises to 930 and 940.

The five UCLA teams that earned perfect single-year APR scores of 1,000 were baseball, women’s cross country, women’s volleyball, women’s water polo and women’s golf — which also scored perfectly on its four-year average. Continue reading

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UCLA announces dates of Gonzaga home-and-home series

UCLA officially announced the dates of its upcoming home-and-home basketball series against Gonzaga.

The Bruins will host the Bulldogs at Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 13, 2014 — part of head coach Steve Alford’s efforts to beef up the team’s nonconference slate. UCLA will visit Spokane on Dec. 12, 2015, though that game could be moved to another December date.

Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth first announced the series last month.

The two teams last played each other on March 23, 2006, in one of the most memorable Sweet Sixteen matchups ever. The Bulldogs last visited Pauley Pavilion in 1999.

The Bruins’ nonconference schedule also includes a game against Kentucky on Dec. 20, part of the inaugural CBS Sports Classic at Chicago’s United Center.

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UCLA announces December game against Kentucky at United Center

UCLA officially announced that it will play Kentucky at Chicago’s United Center on Dec. 20, setting up a marquee matchup against John Calipari’s national runner-up Wildcats.

Part of the CBS Sports Classic, the game will tip off at approximately 12:30 p.m. PT and be broadcast on — naturally — CBS. The event was first reported by the Columbus Dispatch in March.

Also part of the rotating doubleheader are North Carolina and Ohio State, who will play at 10 a.m. PT. Continue reading

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Report: Ben Howland a serious candidate for Oregon State head coach opening

After being fired by UCLA a year ago, Ben Howland may be employed again soon.

Multiple reports indicate that the architect of the Bruins’ three straight Final Fours is Oregon State’s top target after firing Craig Robinson.

Should Howland become the replacement, he would inherit arguably the toughest job in the Pac-12. A spot that was already unattractive when Robinson arrived in 2008 has not gotten any prettier. In the last six years, the Beavers never finished above .500 overall and only once placed higher than eighth in the conference. The program has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1990.

Athletic director Bob De Carolis said at a press conference this week that despite affirming Robinson’s status in March, he changed his mind after taking off “orange-colored glasses.” That may not have been the only impetus. Continue reading

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Kyle Anderson named UCLA’s most valuable player at team banquet

This was a no-brainer.

After leading UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008, point guard Kyle Anderson was named the team’s MVP during Monday night’s year-end banquet at the Beverly Hilton. After averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists — leading the Bruins in the latter two — the third-team AP All-American is headed to the NBA along with former teammates Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine.

Adams, who led UCLA with 17.4 points per game, won the J.D. Morgan Memorial Award for outstanding “team” player. Continue reading

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UCLA’s Jordan Adams changes decision, declares for NBA draft

Nine days after announcing his decision to stay at UCLA, leading scorer Jordan Adams will declare for the NBA draft.

A UCLA spokesperson confirmed the news late Saturday night. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the story.

Adams’ departure robs the Bruins of their top returning player, one that averaged 17.4 points and set a school-record 95 steals. After reaching the Sweet Sixteen in the first year under head coach Steve Alford, and for the first time since 2008, UCLA will return a roster that looks almost entirely different. Continue reading

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UCLA to play home-and-home basketball series with Gonzaga

Gonzaga will visit Pauley Pavilion this winter, beefing up what should be a much more impressive nonconference schedule for UCLA basketball.

Zags athletic director Mike Roth told the Gonzaga Bulletin that the game will be a part of a home-and-home series with UCLA, with the Bruins visiting Spokane in 2015-16.

The Bulldogs finished 29-7 this past season, losing to Arizona in the round of 32. They will have four-star point guard Josh Perkins, whom UCLA missed on last summer, as well as Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer.

Bruins head coach Steve Alford has said often that he wants to schedule more marquee games, and also secured one against title-game finalist Kentucky this December at the United Center in Chicago. In his first season, Alford faced a nonconference schedule that included only two top-50 RPI teams: Missouri and Duke, the latter squeezed in as a last-minute addition.

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Leading scorer Jordan Adams to return to UCLA for junior season

Leading scorer Jordan Adams will return for his junior season at UCLA, a source confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

The Pac-12′s seventh-leading scorer was mulling an entry into the NBA draft, and filed paperwork to receive feedback on his status. Point guard Kyle Anderson, a third-team AP All-American, and reserve guard Zach LaVine had already declared their intentions to go pro.

As a sophomore, Adams led the Bruins with 17.4 points per game, and set a new school record with 95 steals. The 6-foot-5 wing’s return is the most significant offseason news for a team that is coming off its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008. Continue reading

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Four-star forward Jonah Bolden signs with UCLA

Four-star forward Jonah Bolden signed a national letter of intent with UCLA on Wednesday, officially giving the Bruins the fourth commitment in their 2014 class.

The versatile 6-foot-9 Australian verbally committed in December, and will fill out a frontcourt that should improve despite the graduation of David and Travis Wear. Bolden spent the fall semester at Las Vegas Findlay Prep, then led Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to the National Prep Championship.

“We are thrilled to add a player of Jonah’s caliber to our program,” head coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “Not only is he a talented young man, but he’s also very coachable, has great character and will immediately add to our team’s depth.

He joins a haul that already includes five-star forward Kevon Looney, four-star center Thomas Welsh and three-star forward Gyorgy Goloman — all of whom inked their letters during the November signing period. UCLA’s class is ranked seventh in the country by Scout.com.

The second NLI signing period started today, and ends on May 21.

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