Los Angeles, CA – In late night action yesterday, UCLA (6–2) dominated Cal State Fullerton (3–5), 73–45, with a suffocating defense and five players scoring in double digits. Norman Powell led the way with 18 points while Bryce Alford (14), Isaac Hamilton and Tony Parker (12) and Kevon Looney (10) chipped in to lead a balanced attack. The Bruins held the Titans to a paltry 24 percent shooting, dominated the glass, and shot a respectable 42 percent from downtown.
“Tonight, especially defensively, this might have been our best 40 minutes,” said head coach Steve Alford. “This was a really good team effort for us.”
Senior SG Powell is a likely late first round 2015 NBA draft pick. This year he’s leading the team with 18 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-land. He’s a very solid defensive player, and last year he earned an honorable mention selection to the All Pac-12 Defensive Team. Powell has good size and strength, and can score off the dribble, spotting up and off screens. He helped himself out quite a bit with his performance at adidas Nations over the summer.
6’9″Freshman Looney continues to progress and make a case as a likely one-and-done NBA draft prospect. He’s a savvy rebounder and grabbed 13 boards, had two blocks and was 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Looney averages 13.6 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly two blocks and two assists per contest so far. He’s skilled in the post and has decent hands. and is very athletic and long. Looney is listed at 220 pounds, but his lanky frame looks more like 200 pounds. With his athleticism and length Looney will likely head to the NBA after this year although he could benefit from an extra year to gain strength.
Despite not being super athletic for his position, sophomore guard Hamilton is a savvy scorer and is rounding into form after being declared ineligible to play last year. He’s posting 12 points and four rebounds while shooting 42 percent per game. Although PG Bryce Alford clearly makes the Bruin offense tick, Hamilton needs to work more on when to attack defenses off the dribble to create plays for his teammates or shots for himself. One peculiarity that stood out: Hamilton has an odd gait and at times seems to run with unnecessary force on his heels or lock his knees. Running this way with uneven weight distribution could make him more injury prone. Alas, time will tell. If he continues to develop his game, Hamilton could be a late first or second round NBA pick in 2016 or 2017.
Junior F/C Parker, a McDonald’s All-American and a top-25 high school recruit, has decent overseas pro potential. He’s got great strength and size, a soft touch, and runs the floor well in transition. Parker spent his first two seasons battling through foul trouble, inconsistency, and a tumultuous relationship with former head coach Ben Howland. He needs more playing time and to improve his low post moves, defensive quickness, and rebounding to convince scouts that he’s NBA draft-ready at the PF position.
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