Norman Powell eyeing late first, early second rounds of NBA draft

Norman Powell is taking it easy, relatively speaking.

In his final season at UCLA, he averaged 34.6 minutes per game — nearly nine more than he did the season prior. Before he dives fully into preparing for the NBA draft, the 6-foot-4 guard is giving himself time to recover with lighter workouts.

Based on conversations with UCLA head coach Steve Alford, he also has a good idea of where he might be drafted.

“What he’s heard is the late first round, early second round,” said Powell, who led the Bruins with 16.4 points through their second straight trip to the Sweet 16. “I know a lot’s going to depend on my combine, my workouts and my interviews. Really preparing for that and ready to go in there and work. I know I control where I could possibly end up.”

He has meetings set up with three different agents on Thursday, and hopes to make a final decision by Sunday or Monday. Whoever he picks will then guide him through the rest of the process, including where he will actually train for the draft.

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Post-season thoughts on the state of UCLA basketball

UCLA’s basketball offseason is nearly three days old. Before the post-hoops period of 2015 continues, Steve Alford is scheduled to speak to the media again on Tuesday afternoon.

Before then, here’s a couple of pieces from Sunday’s paper for anyone that missed them:
– My season recap on UCLA basketball, whose long-term future is still a bit unclear despite a Sweet 16 run.
– Columnist Tom Hoffarth talks to longtime UCLA announcer Chris Roberts about his retirement, and names a few of the candidates vying to replace him.

A thoughts on how the Bruins finished and where they’re going next …

1. UCLA’s going to back-to-back Sweet 16s doesn’t necessarily mean you should expect a third. The Bruins could certainly be better next season. They will have more depth in the backcourt, though losing freshman Kevon Looney would be a tremendous blow to the frontcourt. Gyorgy Goloman looks like a nice under-the-radar find, but I think he and center Thomas Welsh will pay bigger dividends as juniors rather than sophomores. Introducing former four-star recruit Jonah Bolden will help significantly; he spent his ineligible season transitioning from the four to the three, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts immediately.

But it is unreasonable to expect the type of good fortune that has followed UCLA these past two postseasons. The Bruins deserve credit for taking advantage of their opportunities, but drawing a double-digit seed twice in the round of 32 is as friendly a path as any team could hope to see. At least Stephen F. Austin was a team that was good enough to return to the NCAA Tournament this season; I’m not sure the same can be said for UAB, which was likely one of the 10 weakest teams in the whole field.

Let’s hazard a guess and say that the Bruins draw a No. 5- or 6-seed in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Will they be able to knock off a fourth- or third-seeded team to end the weekend? Continue reading

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PHOTOS: UCLA’s season ends in 74-62 loss to Gonzaga

Photos from UCLA’s 74-62 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, March 27, one that ended the Bruins’ season in the Sweet 16. (AP/Getty)

– UCLA’s surprising tournament run ended Friday, when Gonzaga beat the Bruins as soundly as they did three months ago.
– The scene from the UCLA locker room, and likely goodbye to both Norman Powell and Kevon Looney.
– Columnist Vincent Bonsignore, on how the slipper never quite fit for these Bruins.

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VIDEO: UCLA’s Kevon Looney remains undecided on NBA draft

Kevon Looney’s college career likely ended with UCLA’s 74-62 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, the former five-star recruit expected by most to declare for the NBA draft. But in the locker room at NRG Stadium in Houston, he declined to commit either way on his future.

“UCLA is a great, great school,” he said. “I had a lot of fun playing here. I feel like I could improve as a basketball player and as a person. College is always a great place to build your character and build your game. So I could see myself coming back.”

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VIDEO: Bryce Alford talks about UCLA’s 74-62 loss to Gonzaga

Point guard Bryce Alford talked about UCLA’s 74-62 loss to Gonzaga on Friday, one that ended the Bruins’ season in the Sweet 16. He had eight points and four assists to close his sophomore year, and only shot 3 of 11.

“I missed a fast-break layup, and I don’t remember the last time I did that. (Isaac Hamilton) did it a couple of possessions later. … It was just one of those nights when the ball didn’t bounce our way and we didn’t make enough shots.”

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