Should Aaron Holiday return to UCLA and battle yet another freshman?

Aaron Holiday’s future in the NBA is murky, but so is his role if he returns to UCLA. (Thomas Cordova/SCNG)

As Aaron Holiday decides whether to make the jump to the NBA, there is more to analyze than just his draft stock. The sophomore guard is assuredly taking a hard look at what type of situation he would land in back at UCLA.

Holiday, who showed solid development as a point guard last season despite the presence of the nation’s assist leader on his own team, could be passed over by another freshman point guard in identical fashion. Lonzo Ball ran the show for UCLA before departing for the NBA and the possibility exists for McDonald’s All-American Jaylen Hands to do the same next season.

Holiday has declared for the NBA draft, but has until May 24 to withdraw his name and return to UCLA. He is not currently projected to be among the 60 NBA draft picks on June 22.

Were he to return, UCLA coach Steve Alford could conceivably toss Holiday the keys and not think twice about it. There is an argument to be made that he has earned it. Continue reading “Should Aaron Holiday return to UCLA and battle yet another freshman?” »

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UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Aaron Holiday

Will Aaron Holiday ever get to run the show at UCLA? (Thomas Cordova/SCNG)

Strengths: Whether is was overall maturity, another year to develop his point guard skills or that he was surrounded by twice as much talent than his freshman year, Aaron Holiday looked like a future NBA point guard as a sophomore. Lonzo Ball’s presence made for an odd situation, moving Holiday out of the starting lineup and off the ball much of the time he was on the court. None of it threw him off. Holiday averaged nearly a half-assist and two more points than last season in five less minutes per game and found a near-perfect balance of when to be aggressive calling his own number and when to defer to teammates. He also maintained his status as the team’s best defender.

Weaknesses: Holiday is only 6-foot-1, which means he better learn to play point guard at the next level, because he doesn’t have the size to play any other position. At 185 pounds, Holiday has plenty of heft for his frame, but he had trouble finishing in the lane. His 64% shooting at the rim, per hoop-math.com, was the second-lowest on the team to only Bryce Alford. His size is about the only limitation for a player who can shoot, handle and pass the basketball well on top of his above average perimeter defense.

Best moment: While the player who took his starting spot struggled in UCLA’s Dec. 3 trip to Kentucky, Holiday made all four of his shots and scored 13 points in the first half alone of what held up most of the season as UCLA’s best win. Continue reading “UCLA basketball 2017 report card: Aaron Holiday” »

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Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh declare for NBA draft, won’t hire agents

Aaron Holiday (left) and Thomas Welsh will both declare for the NBA draft, but neither will hire an agent. (AP photo/Mark Humphrey)

UCLA sophomore Aaron Holiday and junior Thomas Welsh will declare for the NBA draft, a UCLA spokesperson confirmed on Monday. Neither will hire agents, meaning they have until May 24 to withdraw their names in order to return to school.

Neither player is projected to be selected in the draft. ESPN rates Holiday the No. 80 NBA prospect and Welsh No. 119. NBADraft.net ranks Holiday and Welsh 61st and 85th, respectively.

They may be declaring primarily to workout for NBA teams and gather information about how best to prepare for the league when they do leave school for good. UCLA coach Steve Alford’s statement about their decision indicated as much.

“Both Thomas and Aaron are doing their due diligence in getting feedback from the NBA to determine what’s in the best interest for their basketball futures,” Alford said. “Each of these young men come from strong families with great support networks and I want them to know that we will fully support their decisions, whichever way they go.”

There is much riding on the eventual decisions of Holiday and Welsh for a UCLA team already losing freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf to the NBA along with seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton. Freshman Ike Anigbogu has also declared for the NBA draft without hiring an agent. Continue reading “Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh declare for NBA draft, won’t hire agents” »

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Hype grows for UCLA backcourt with 2 watch list candidates

Senior Isaac Hamilton, the Pac-12's top returning scorer, is a stark contrast to the other member of UCLA's backcourt named to a preseason award watch list.

Senior Isaac Hamilton, the Pac-12’s top returning scorer, is a stark contrast to the other member of UCLA’s backcourt named to a preseason award watch list.

How deep is the UCLA backcourt? Two guards have been named to preseason award watch lists – not including two returners who were starting guards last year.

Senior Isaac Hamilton, the top returning scorer in the Pac-12, was a natural choice for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award watch list announced Tuesday. The buzz about freshman Lonzo Ball is only growing after he earned the distinction as a watch list candidate for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.

To illustrate the depth in the UCLA backcourt, consider that Bryce Alford, who averaged seven tenths of a point less than Hamilton last season, is a certainty to be in the starting lineup when the season begins Nov. 11. As for Aaron Holiday, whose minutes are more difficult to project than the coach’s son, all he did was averaged double figures as a freshman last season and play the best on-ball defense of anybody on the roster. Continue reading “Hype grows for UCLA backcourt with 2 watch list candidates” »

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