UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Lonzo Ball

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.

Best moment: UCLA appeared well on its way to being more hype than substance after dropping its first conference meetings with Oregon, Arizona and USC following a soft non-conference schedule. Continue reading “UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Lonzo Ball” »

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UCLA spring football day 13: The evolution of the tight end

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.

More about the evolution of the UCLA tight end

Video interviews with Jordan Wilson and Breland Brandt

Here are notes/observations for the day: Continue reading “UCLA spring football day 13: The evolution of the tight end” »

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Jordan Wilson, Breland Brandt after practice April 26

Tight end Jordan Wilson talks about who is on his team for the spring game, what he’s improved on the most, and who he goes to for help among the tight ends group.

Linebacker Breland Brandt talks about learning the strongside linebacker position and what he learned in the past year at UCLA.

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UCLA spring football day 12: Mora finalizes spring game plans

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.

More details on UCLA’s spring game.

Photo gallery from practice

Video interviews

Here are notes/observations for the day: Continue reading “UCLA spring football day 12: Mora finalizes spring game plans” »

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