Alford says Anderson, Adams can compensate for lack of athleticism

Of the UCLA trio selected in first round of Thursday’s NBA draft, one was chosen based almost solely on athletic ability. The other two, not so much.

Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams may have to combine their test results to equal Zach LaVine’s 46-inch vertical, but UCLA coach Steve Alford isn’t worried about the criticism of his two sophomores’ athleticism. The 22nd and 30th picks of the draft may be diving into the deep end of the talent pool next season, but Alford is confident they’re in particularly good shape for the NBA above the shoulders.

“I think athleticism is way overrated for the most part,” Alford said. “You can either play or you can’t play and Jordan really understands how to play. You could give me the most athletic guy that we’ve played against collegiately this year and Jordan probably outplayed him because of being smarter and being tougher.”

To the credit of Adams, chosen 22nd by the Memphis Grizzlies, the 6-foot-5 guard was more than just a scorer at UCLA. He set a school record with 95 steals last season, an impressive statistic for someone projected as a potential defensive liability in the NBA.

Alford echoed some of his sentiments about Adams when referencing Anderson, who was selected 30th by the San Antonio Spurs. The third college basketball player in the last 30 years to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a season, the 6-foot-9 Anderson made a compelling case for Alford’s argument that he is a truly unique player with more than athleticism to lean on at the next level.

“As good a basketball IQ as I’ve coached,” Alford said of Anderson. “Sometimes a lot of people get wrapped up in athleticism and being able to jump over the backboard but do you know how to play the game?”

“I told him (Friday) morning, you don’t change who you are but you’ve got to take advantage of going to a franchise, an organization that really gets it from the bottom all the way to the top. So listen. Listen to people. You’ve always been coachable. Make sure you stay that way.”

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Kyle Anderson sneaks into first round, picked 30th overall by San Antonio Spurs

Kyle Anderson had, by almost any measure, a superlative college basketball career.

The 6-foot-9 point guard was the most important player on a UCLA team that reached its first Sweet Sixteen since 2008, registering the school’s third-ever triple double along the way. He was a third-team AP All-American, and a finalist for the Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy awards. He earned Pac-12 Tournament MVP, and even flushed in one of the most memorable dunks of the weekend.

But on Thursday night, five Pac-12 players saw their names flash up earlier — the wait finally ending when the San Antonio Spurs picked Anderson 30th overall to end the first round.

Before that, he watched Arizona’s Aaron Gordon go fourth overall; former UCLA teammates Zach LaVine and Jordan Adams go 13th and 22nd; and Washington’s C.J. Wilcox and Stanford’s Josh Huestis going 28th and 29th. Continue reading

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NBA Mock Draft roundup: Where will LaVine, Anderson and Adams go?

Thursday could mark a new milestone for UCLA basketball.

Guards Zach LaVine, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams each have a chance to go in the first round — setting up what could be the program’s largest draft class in more than three decades.

The last time three Bruins were taken in the first round was 1979, when David Greenwood, Roy Hamilton and Brad Holland went second, tenth and 14th, respectively. UCLA came close to matching that in 2008; Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love went off the board at fourth and fifth on their way to All-NBA resumes, but Luc Richard Mbah a Moute slipped into the second round at 37th overall.

Here’s a roundup of where LaVine, Anderson and Adams are projected to go on various NBA mock drafts, in this order: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, Draft Express, ESPN’s Chad Ford, Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, CBS, and Dick Vitale.

Bilas DX Ford Y! USA SI SN CBS Vitale
Zach LaVine 10 13 18 21 10 18 14 17 11
Kyle Anderson 24 25 21 17 15 27 18 14 26
Jordan Adams n/a 24 29 24 n/a 29 n/a 21 27

Average draft positions: LaVine — 14.67; Anderson — 20.78; Adams — 25.67 (out of six mocks)

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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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