UCLA center Thomas Welsh makes final USA Basketball U19 roster

UCLA center Thomas Welsh will wear red, white and blue this summer.

The soon-to-be sophomore made the final cut for USA Basketball’s U19 team on Wednesday, becoming one of 12 players who will represent the United States at the FIBA World Championship later this month. He is one of two centers to make the team, the other being Purdue’s five-star signee Caleb Swanigan.

Competition will be held June 27 to July 5 in Heraklion, on the Greek island of Crete. The medal-round quarterfinals are on July 3, with the semifinals and finals taking place the following two days. Continue reading

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UCLA has weekly windows set for 2015-16 Pac-12 schedule

The upcoming UCLA men’s basketball schedule is almost finalized.

A few hours after the Bruins announced their 2015-16 nonconference slate, the Pac-12 released weekly windows for conference play. UCLA will play two regular-season games against Arizona for the first time since 2013, hosting the Wildcats in January and traveling to Tucson in February.

Absent from the schedule are home games against Cal and Stanford, as well as trips to Utah and Colorado. UCLA will head to the Bay Area in the last week of February, and will host the Utes and the Buffaloes the week prior.

The Bruins’ Pac-12 slate will begin with a trip to Washington and Washington State the week of Dec. 30 to Jan. 3.

Here is the rough outline for UCLA’s conference schedule: Continue reading

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UCLA center Tony Parker could see minutes at power forward

UCLA center Tony Parker backs down Long Beach State's Eric McKnight (12) during the Bruins' 77-63 win on Nov. 23, 2014. (Stephen Carr/Staff)

UCLA center Tony Parker backs down Long Beach State’s Eric McKnight (12) during the Bruins’ 77-63 win on Nov. 23, 2014. (Stephen Carr/Staff)

In his final season at UCLA, Tony Parker could be playing a new role.

Through 104 games — including 42 starts — the 6-foot-9 big man has primarily served as a true center, a rarity as stretch forwards continue to proliferate in basketball. As a senior in 2015-16, he could be playing stretches as a power forward.

“Probably so,” Parker said. “It’s one thing coach (Steve) Alford wants me to do, so I’ll do it.”

Moving the Atlanta-area native to the four would allow the Bruins to give more minutes to soon-to-be sophomore Thomas Welsh, a promising 7-footer who recently received an invite to the USA Basketball U19 training camp. Continue reading

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UCLA basketball finalizes 2015-16 nonconference schedule

UCLA men’s basketball released its upcoming nonconference schedule today, and the spot to mark in your calendar is Dec. 3.

That’s when the Bruins will host Kentucky, facing a team that dismantled them in an 83-44 blowout last December in Chicago — one that the Wildcats opened with a 24-0 run. UK will almost certainly enter Pauley Pavilion as the favorite, but this is also a team that lost seven players from its Final Four squad.

As has become customary under head coach Steve Alford — who is heading into his third season — UCLA has a loaded nonconference slate that also includes a visit to Gonzaga on Dec. 12, and a game against North Carolina on Dec. 19 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Both teams beat the Bruins by double-digits last winter. The Bulldogs also ended UCLA’s season with a 74-62 win in the Sweet 16.

“I’ve maintained all along that we want to upgrade our program’s schedule in hopes of playing tough and exciting marquee games,” Alford said in a statement, “and I’d say we’ve moved even further in that direction this year. … This non-conference schedule figures to be one of the strongest in the nation, and I know our players can’t wait to take on this challenge.”

The Bruins could also play Kansas and Indiana in November’s Maui Invitational, a tournament that also includes St. John’s, UNLV and Wake Forest.

UCLA’s first competition will come in an exhibition game against Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 30, and it will officially open its season against Monmouth on Nov. 13.

See the full nonconference schedule below: Continue reading

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Steve Alford talks state of UCLA basketball heading into 2015-16

UCLA head coach Steve Alford stands during the introductions before the Bruins' 72-63 win over Oregon on Feb.14, 2015. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

UCLA head coach Steve Alford stands during the introductions before the Bruins’ 72-63 win over Oregon on Feb.14, 2015. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

This morning, UCLA men’s basketball ran an instructional clinic with Special Olympic athletes at Pauley Pavilion. A group of UCLA students regularly run the clinics every Saturday, and had reached out to the team to collaborate this weekend. The Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2.

After the session on Saturday, UCLA coach Steve Alford talked about participating in the event and the state of his program — including thoughts on Jonah Bolden’s role, and whether or not point guard Bryce Alford might be taken off scholarship.

On being involved with the Special Olympics:

“The more you give, the more you get out. I’ve been involved with the Special Olympics since 1984, when I got back from Los Angeles being a part of the Olympics. … Every stop I’ve made, I’ve been involved with it. Anytime that they reach out to us, and we get a chance to be around the Special Olympians, we want to do that. Give them a chance to run down Pauley Pavilion. It’s not like any other court. It’s a special time for these kids to be able to do that. …

“The personalities come out. You get to see the ones that have flash. The ones that have swag. The ones that shoot threes. Ones that want to post up. Ones that want to guard. It’s a lot of fun seeing that. … The passion that they play with, that’s a very encouraging thing.”

On how he feels about state of UCLA’s roster heading into his third season:

“Good. Our freshmen get here about the 20th, 21st of this month. [Four-star guards Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali, three-star forward Alex Olesinski, JUCO transfer center Ikenna Okwarabizie] Once we get those guys in, it’s as full a roster as we’ve been able to have. We’ll have a minimum of 11 guys on scholarship, and I haven’t had that since I’ve been here. Continue reading

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