Lonzo Ball may prove himself to be a once-in-a-generation player. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Strengths: Lonzo Ball should be flattered by the Jason Kidd comparisons, but UCLA’s point guard more than justified them by leading the NCAA in assists and surpassing Kidd’s best single-season total at Cal. Passing ability is where comparisons between the two end. Ball doesn’t just have otherworldly vision, he shoots a high percentage, stands two inches taller than Kidd and possesses the athleticism to play above the rim. Even as dynamic as Ball proved himself to be, his passing ability was clearly his best attribute. It was so exceptional, coupled with his unselfish attitude, Ball infected the rest of UCLA’s roster with a team-first approach not often found at any level of basketball in this era.
Weaknesses: Deep into the season after Ball had been thoroughly scouted, he mounted what looked like a concerted effort to dispatch the notion he didn’t have a mid-range game. But even by season’s end, only 7.6 percent of his shot attempts weren’t at the rim or beyond the 3-point line, according to hoop-math.com. Ball shot just 26 jumpers inside the arc and made 12 of them – in 36 games. Pretty alarming numbers on the surface for a player with unconventional shooting form that doesn’t particularly lend itself to a pull-up jumper. Ball filled a stat sheet like nobody else in college basketball, but mid-range shooting is a hole in an otherwise comprehensive resume.
UCLA coach Hank Fraley talks with Caleb Wilson #81 during football practice at UCLA in Los Angeles,Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
A group of misfit receivers, converted defensive linemen and a former high-school quarterback has turned into what looks like one of the deepest units on the offensive side of the ball for UCLA this year.
Just one year after officially bringing in the tight end position at UCLA, the Bruins are looking for the group to take the next step in Jedd Fisch‘s offense.
“They ask a lot of us, but if we want to be on the field, that’s what we’re required to do,” Caleb Wilson said.
UCLA running back Brandon Stephens #20 during football practice at UCLA in Los Angeles,Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
The teams are set, the guest coaches are on board. The UCLA spring game is officially a go.
Head coach Jim Mora has finalized plans to have a live spring game on Saturday at Drake Stadium. He hasn’t revealed the rosters for the blue and white teams yet, but said there will be two national-championship-winning guest head coaches on the field.
In front of what they hope will be a big crowd, the Bruins intend to impress their fans while climbing back from their disappointing season last year.
“It gives us a chance and an opportunity to show them (the fans) what we’ve been working for and working at this whole spring ball,” sophomore running back Brandon Stephens said.
Click the photo above (or HERE) to see photos of Monday’s practice.
Above, clockwise from top left: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch; quarterback Josh Rosen; running back Jalen Starks; wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty and wide receiver Damian Alloway. All photos by Hans Gutknecht/SCNG