Los Angeles, CA – Last night UCLA (19–12, 11- 7) took another step toward a possible NCAA Tournament bid by toppling USC, 85–74. The Bruins were +14 in points off turnovers and +16 in second chance points versus the Trojans. Bryce Alford led a balanced Bruin attack with 23 points, Tony Parker had 22, and Kevin Looney netted 13 with 13 rebounds while senior star guard Norman Powell added 12 points.
The Bruins have only one loss at home, to No. 7 Gonzaga. They have played the toughest schedule in the Pac-12 and have wins against Utah and Oregon and two against Stanford. UCLA hopes that will all help make a strong case to the selection committee for March Madness.
“We’ve still got work to do, just like a lot of teams in the country,” said UCLA head coach Steve Alford. “You can’t stop.”
Powell (6’4, 215), who described himself as jittery in possibly his last home game, had an off night on 5-of-16 shooting. Still, he is a likely late first or early second round 2015 NBA draft pick. Powell is a smart defender and can score coming off screens, spotting up and driving to the cup. He will also likely earn another honorable mention or first team selection to the All Pac-12 Defensive Team this year.
UCLA freshman standout Looney (6’9), a likely NBA lottery pick, is averaging 12.3 points and 9.4 boards per game, the third highest rebounding average of any freshman nationwide. He also has 13 double-doubles, the highest total of any freshman in the country. Looney has solid footwork in the paint, skilled hands, and runs and sees the floor well. Although his length and athleticism is a huge plus, he would still benefit from adding bulk and strength to his lanky frame as he transitions to the pro level.
Bruin junior F/C Parker (6’9, 260) is progressing nicely and has solid overseas pro potential. Averaging 10.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest, Parker has great strength and size, a soft touch, plays hard, and runs the floor well in transition. His increased playing time this year (24 min. per game vs. 17 min. last year) has given scouts more opportunities to better evaluate Parker. He needs to improve his footwork in the low post, become less foul prone, and improve his mid-range shooting (12 – 15 ft) to convince scouts that he’s NBA draft-ready at the PF position.
USC Sophomore F Nikola Jovanovic (6’11, 230) is also improving steadily as a possible NBA prospect. The Serbian native is averaging 12 points and 7 boards per game, more than Nikola Vucevic (Center, Orlando Magic) averaged during his sophomore year at USC. Jovanovic has nice hands, a high basketball IQ, a soft shooting touch around the rim, and decent footwork in the post. He’s NBA draft eligible in 2017 and, if his skills continue to improve, he could become an NBA draft pick.
Any international players interested in coming to the USA to play in college, prep school or high school can contact us here. We are looking for interns and sales associates. If you’re interested contact us and forward your resume.