Zach LaVine’s dunks light up Seattle Pro-Am

A reminder that Zach LaVine is still very, very good at dunking.

One pre-draft comparison lobbed about for UCLA’s one-and-done guard was Gerald Green, who a former dunk contest champ who finally turned himself into a serviceable NBA player this past season.

LaVine might not become a superstar, but he’s going to earn a ticket to All-Star weekend on hops alone.

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Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus commits to UCLA

UCLA has added one more option to fill out the largest hole on its roster.

Colorado State point guard Jon Octeus will play his last year of college ball in Los Angeles, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. The graduate transfer will help repair a thin backcourt that loses All-American point guard Kyle Anderson — a constant triple-double threat who was drafted 30th overall last night.

Octeus was third on the Rams in scoring (13.4), rebounding (4.7) and assists (2.3), starting all 32 games. He picked the Bruins over Missouri and Cincinnati.

He is now the only UCLA point guard with significant starting experience. The other candidates at the position are Bryce Alford, who backed up Anderson last season, and former five-star recruit Isaac Hamilton, who sat out the season for breaking his letter of intent to UTEP.

The Bruins struck pay dirt they last time they relied on a one-year transfer point guard. In 2012-13, Larry Drew II shed his maligned reputation at UNC by dishing out 256 assists — a new UCLA single-season record.

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Post-NBA draft transcript from Zach LaVine, Minnesota coach Flip Saunders

Below are quotes from Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders and 13th overall draft pick Zach LaVine in their session with reporters, as transcribed by the team.

# # #

*ZACH LaVINE QUOTES*

Emotions that went through your mind when you were picked?
You know man, I’ve waited my whole life for this moment. It was just a rush of emotion that came through me, and I’m on cloud 9 still man, I’m ready, I put my head down and prayed to God, thank God, I just hugged my mom and I couldn’t believe this is happening. You think about this since you’re a little kid, and you just can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’m just ready to get to Minnesota and do my best.

Good impression the Wolves were high on you at No. 13?
You know, I know I had a really good workout with them. I talked to coach Flip Saunders and we had a great meeting. And then you know, I knew they were around my draft range so I was hoping for the best. When my name was called man, it was a jolt of energy through my body. It was amazing.

Did the Wolves promise they’d draft you?
No, you see it on Twitter, it was on Twitter a lot, and you know I didn’t want to confirm or anything like that or believe it until my agent or someone you know really close to me, the GM or owner told me. But you know, I knew it was a good thing no matter what, so I’m just ecstatic that it actually did come true.

Aware Twitter storm that you thought you were upset coming to Minnesota?
No man, I’m completely ecstatic. I couldn’t be more happy. I’m a very emotional person, so I might’ve uttered something completely wrong but I put my head down, thanked God, kissed my mom, kissed my dad, couldn’t believe this was happening to me right now. I’m going into Minnesota full-fledged ready to become a Timberwolf. Continue reading

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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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Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus schedules UCLA as last of three visits

UCLA will get the last crack at convincing an experienced point guard to come to Los Angeles.

Colorado State’s outgoing graduate transfer Jon Octeus has narrowed down his choices to the Bruins along with Missouri and Cincinnati, and will visit UCLA on either June 26 or 27 according to The Coloradoan. He is currently finishing up a two-day visit to the Tigers and will see the Bearcats over the weekend.

Octeus announced his intent to transfer out of Colorado State on Monday. The Miami-area native will be immediately eligible upon obtaining his undergraduate degree next month. Continue reading

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Alumni Q&A: Darren Collison looks back on first season with Clippers

Since helping UCLA to three straight Final Fours, Darren Collison has embarked on what is turning into a bit of a journeyman’s career. He’s played for four teams in five seasons, and transitioned from being a starter in Indiana to a capable backup in Dallas and Los Angeles.

But even though he’ll be a free agent again this summer — opting out of $1.9 million — he insists he wants to stay in his hometown.

Collison talked a bit this week about his first season with the Clippers, the current state of UCLA basketball, as well as his basketball camp for middle schoolers starting June 23.

How did your first season with the Clippers go?

I think as far as the team, we expected to go deeper. We expected to win it all. That didn’t quite go well. It’s stuck with us even now. I think it’s going to be a motivating factor even now. we understood the road that we came from. we felt like we were right there.

My intention is to stick with the Clippers. They’re a good team. Good teams like San Antonio and Miami have stuck with the same core. I’d love to stay for three to four years, but there has to be a mutual agreement.

How does this summer of free agency for you compare to last year’s?

Last year, it was just putting myself in a position where I could find myself again as a player mentally. I’ve been through a lot. The previous season with Dallas, I still had a good season, but mentally I just felt like I needed to be a part of a team that was going to try to win it all. That was my intention. To try and be a part of a team that was going to win a championship.

This year, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just my value went up. I understand that. But I don’t want it to affect my decision with the Clippers. Continue reading

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Steve Alford ranked No. 36 on ESPN’s list of top college basketball coaches

For taking UCLA to its first Sweet Sixteen in six years, Steve Alford’s debut in Los Angeles earned him a spot as one of college basketball’s top-50 coaches.

No. 36 isn’t a lofty spot for someone at the helm of one of the sport’s most recognizable programs, but Alford also benefited in inheriting a unique college star in All-American point guard Kyle Anderson, as well as a capable scorer in Jordan Adams.

But nevertheless turned around a team that was embarrassed in the first round a year ago, and successfully implemented an up-tempo style that wasn’t apparent in his years at New Mexico.

From ESPN: Continue reading

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UCLA radio announcer Chris Roberts will retire in 2015

UCLA radio announcer Chris Roberts will retire after the 2014-15 season, ending a tenure that has spanned over two decades.

Having served as the school’s radio voice for football and basketball since 1992, Roberts will leave as the program’s longest-serving play-by-play announcer — tying the late Fred Hessler. Also presence on Los Angeles radio since 1982, Roberts has won the Golden Mike Award four times and joined the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2012.

He will be honored at both the Rose Bowl and Pauley Pavilion during his final run, and will retire with lifetime football and basketball season tickets.

“I cannot put into words what it has meant to be the ‘Voice of UCLA’ for all these years,” Roberts said in a statement. “The Bruins have played a major role in my life for the past two-plus decades and hopefully my broadcasts have reflected this. Our athletes, coaches and administrators here in Westwood are first-class, and it has been an absolute delight providing the soundtrack for some of their greatest accomplishments.

“All athletes would love the chance to go out on top, and with both UCLA Football and Basketball poised to do great things in 2014-15, as a broadcaster, I am in the envious position of actually having that very opportunity.”

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UCLA announces new basketball practice facility, estimated to cost $30-40 million

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UCLA will spend an estimated $30-40 million on a new basketball practice facility, the school announced Thursday afternoon.

The new building will be located near the Bruins’ home court of Pauley Pavilion, immediately south of the Los Angeles Tennis Center and west of the planned $50 million football facility. The school said private donations will fund the project — which will house practice gyms for both men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well locker rooms and a training area. Continue reading

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