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An unguarded moment?

Anderson, LaVine declare for draft, a blow to Bruins' backcourt

April 17, 2014|Chris Foster
  • Kyle Anderson is guarded by Florida's Will Yeguete during UCLA's 79-68 loss to the Gators in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. Anderson and fellow Bruins guard Zach LaVine have declared for the NBA Draft.
Kyle Anderson is guarded by Florida's Will Yeguete during UCLA's… (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )

UCLA basketball Coach Steve Alford may need to hang a "Guards wanted. Inquire within" sign on Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins have holes in the backcourt now that Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine officially have declared for the NBA draft. And the size of the void could double because guards Jordan Adams and Norman Powell also have filed paperwork to determine their NBA draft status.

Neither Adams nor Powell is expected to leave, but they have not said they would return.

It leaves "Jeopardy"-style answers and questions:

He might be left to run the offense even though he is not a true point guard.

Who is Bryce Alford?

These two players, who did more clapping than playing last season, will have to increase their contributions next season.

Who are Noah Allen and Isaac Hamilton?

It could turn into double jeopardy.

The Bruins won the Pac-12 Conference tournament championship and reached an NCAA regional semifinal in March, all without much of an inside game.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, April 18, 2014 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA basketball photo: In the April 17 Sports section, the caption for a photograph on an article about UCLA basketball players leaving for the NBA identified the player sitting between teammates Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine as Norman Powell. The player in the middle was Jordan Adams.

That issue might have been addressed by recruiting -- UCLA is set to welcome two power forwards and a 7-foot center -- but further success will hinge on the backcourt.

Alford was unavailable to discuss his team Wednesday, but the challenge he faces is clear.

If Adams and Powell leave, the Bruins will be down to five scholarship players, plus three high school seniors who have signed letters of intent. None of the signees are guards. If Adams and Powell stay, then the concerns are reduced.

Anderson, who had two years of eligibility remaining, averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game as the UCLA's point guard last season. He was a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and was the Pac-12 tournament's most valuable player.

A high-end replacement is coming -- but not for a year.

Aaron Holiday is considered a top high school point guard but, unfortunately for UCLA, he will still be a high school point guard in the fall. Holiday, brother of former Bruins star Jrue Holiday, will be a senior at North Hollywood Campbell Hall High.

How well the Anderson-to-Holiday gap is bridged is likely to determine how the Bruins fare next season.

Coach Alford is expected to make a late recruiting push to land a point guard, though that could be difficult. Any player who came in this fall would be likely to take a back seat to Holiday a year later.

If Alford was unable to bring in a point guard, the chore would probably fall to his son.

Bryce Alford averaged 8.0 points and 2.8 assists last season. He was able to spell Anderson, but it remains to be seen whether he could handle the job on a more permanent basis.

In UCLA's season-ending loss to Florida in a South Regional semifinal, the Bruins trailed, 58-55, with 10 minutes left. Anderson then went to the bench and the Gators scored five consecutive points, prompting him to be rushed back into the game.

Finding a replacement for LaVine is a more manageable situation, even if Adams and Powell leave. LaVine averaged 9.4 points as a reserve.

Hamilton, who backed out of a letter of intent with Texas El Paso last summer, averaged 23.5 points at Bellflower St. John Bosco in 2012-13. He already knows UCLA's schemes, having practiced as a redshirt last season.

Allen showed promise at guard last season but required surgery after suffering three fractures below his left eye in the second game of the season. He played in 11 games.

If the Bruins can massage their point guard situation -- and if Adams and Powell return -- there is the potential for another successful season.

UCLA seems set in the post. Tony Parker and Wanaah Bail return. The 6-9 Parker averaged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds as a reserve. The 6-9 Bail, a transfer from Texas Tech, had his development hampered by two knee surgeries -- one before the season and another before the NCAA tournament.

The Bruins should also have newcomers Kevon Looney, a 6-9 power forward from Milwaukee Hamilton High; Gyorgy Goloman, a 6-10 power forward from Weston (Fla.) Sagemont High; center Thomas Welsh, a 7-0 center from Los Angeles Loyola High, and Jonah Bolden, a 6-8 forward from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, who signed his letter of intent Wednesday.


Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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