NBA Draft: Norman Powell, Josh Smith work out for Lakers

Former UCLA players Norman Powell and Josh Smith worked out for the Lakers yesterday, and our beat reporter Mark Medina got the updates:

» Norman Powell sees himself as “NBA ready” after four years in college. He’ll work out with about 20 teams through the draft evaluation process.
» Center Josh Smith, who transferred to Georgetown six games into his junior year at UCLA, admits that he was “lazy” as a college player.

From late last month: Kevon Looney said he didn’t think he showed his full potential at UCLA.

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Center Thomas Welsh picked for USA Basketball U19 training camp

UCLA center Thomas Welsh  is one of 24 players participating in the USA Basketball U19 training camp. He is pictured here stretches before a practice on Oct. 14, 2014, at the Student Activities Center. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

UCLA center Thomas Welsh is one of 24 players participating in the USA Basketball U19 training camp. He is pictured here stretches before a practice on Oct. 14, 2014, at the Student Activities Center. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff)

UCLA center Thomas Welsh could have a chance to represent his country this summer.

The 7-footer was one of 24 players picked to participate in 2015 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team training camp, which will take place June 12-26. Held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, the event will determine which 12 players are selected for the U19 national team, one that will play in Greece from June 27 to July 5.

Welsh, who will be a sophomore in the 2015-16 season, averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in his first season for the Bruins. A former McDonald’s All-American showed spurts of promise, scoring 14 points in UCLA’s season-opening 113-78 win over Montana State. In a round-of-64 upset of fifth-seeded SMU, he had six rebounds and four blocks, and was on the floor in the final minutes in place of junior Tony Parker.

Unsurprisingly for a young big man, Welsh struggled at times with foul trouble, committing 6.0 fouls per 40 minutes. The center also took 59.1 percent of his shots on 2-point jumpers, nearly double the team average.

The U19 team will be coached by Arizona’s Sean Miller. He will be assisted by his younger brother, Dayton’s Archie Miller, and Providence’s Ed Cooley.

See the full roster below: Continue reading

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UCLA forward Jonah Bolden out 6-8 weeks after knee surgery

UCLA forward Jonah Bolden will be out for six to eight weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday morning.

Bolden, who is expected to start in 2015-16, had the operation to repair a slight meniscus tear in his right knee. He is expected to make a full recovery, according to a team spokesperson.

The former four-star recruit will need to fill a major void for the Bruins, who lost 6-foot-9 power forward Kevon Looney to the NBA draft. Bolden had signed as part of the 2014 class, but was ruled ineligible to play as a freshman due to issues with his high school transfer from Australia.

At 6-foot-10, Bolden could potentially play either forward spot for UCLA.

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Q&A: Former UCLA guard Darren Collison reflects on his NBA career

Darren Collison scrambles for a loose ball against Memphis' Antonio Anderson during UCLA's 78-63 loss in the 2008 Final Four. (Eric Gay/AP)

Darren Collison scrambles for a loose ball against Memphis’ Antonio Anderson during UCLA’s 78-63 loss in the 2008 Final Four. (Eric Gay/AP)

Four-year stars are rare in today’s college basketball landscape, which makes Darren Collison’s career seem like it belongs in a time capsule. The former UCLA point guard was the last Bruin to be taken in the NBA draft after exhausting his college eligibility, going 21st overall in 2009.

Now entering his seventh season as a pro, Collison took some time to talk about his NBA career, the growth of his youth basketball camp, and his thoughts on the state of UCLA men’s basketball.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of your career as a backup and journeyman. What did it mean for your career to sign a three-year contract with the Sacramento Kings and have a chance to be a starter?

It was a big step in my career. We all talk about stability, whether you’re working in the real world or you’re playing sports. I think stability was a part of my success this past season, because you kind of know where you’re going to be, you know who the coach is going to be, you know who your teammates are.

Q: The last time you had started full-time was with the Indiana Pacers. What was the difference in doing so again three years later?

I’m more confident than I was when I was in Indiana. I was still figuring out my way around (back then). I was ready to go (this time). I was ready to show the league that i was more than capable of starting. Not just starting, but being an above-average starter.

Q: You averaged a career-high 16.1 points as well as 5.6 assists before your injury. Do you feel like you proved people wrong?

Without a doubt, but at the same time, I knew my capability. People only came to that conclusion (that I couldn’t) because I’d been coming off the bench for a year and a half. They didn’t really do their research as to why I was coming off the bench. I knew I could start for any team. … I didn’t really care what team. Continue reading

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NBA combine: Looney, Powell measure out with long wingspans

The NBA Combine will hold its on-court portions to end this week, with five-on-five competition returning for the first time since 2008.

Former UCLA guard Norman Powell is slated to participate, part of a nine-man squad that also includes Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison, Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, and Stanford’s Chasson Randle. They will take the floor at 1:30 p.m. PT on both Thursday and Friday.

In the meantime, there are full body measurements from 63 players to pore over. Both Powell and forward Kevon Looney stood out in one particular category: their wingspans.

A potential lottery pick after his lone season at UCLA, Looney spread his arms out to 7’3.5″, tying him for sixth at the combine with Kansas’ Cliff Alexander. The downside is that he also tied for the eighth-highest body fat percentage at 11.9 percent. It’s a surprising number given how lanky he looked as a college player, and helps explain why he appeared winded at the end of the season despite being listed at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds. Continue reading

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