After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament, UCLA became the first team to advance into the Sweet 16 after defeating UAB on Saturday. Tony Parker had 28 points and 12 rebounds in the win and has been named NetScouts Basketball’s NCAA Tournament Player of the Day for games on March 21st.
“We did a really good job of getting it to the rim, and then Tony really finished well,” UCLA head coach Steve Alford said in his post-game press conference. “Other than his first move in the second half, that was a fadeaway on a right block, everything was to the rim. When he does that, he’s a big load.”
Parker’s 28 points were a career-high and the most points scored by a UCLA player in the NCAA Tournament since Kevin Love in 2008. The junior was 11-of-14 from the field and added three blocks defensively. His 12 rebounds were his highest total since January.
The 6-foot-9, 260 pound center is a massive presence in the post and had no issues against smaller defenders. He isn’t an explosive athlete, but has quality footwork for his size. Parker gets practically all of his offense in the paint, which is a question for the next level, but his size allows him to back down defenders and gain good positioning.
UCLA now advances to the Sweet 16 to play either Gonzaga or Iowa. The Bruins fell to Gonzaga, 87-74, at home earlier this season so it could be a chance at revenge for UCLA.
Other Saturday Notes:
-Freshman Devin Booker has struggled shooting the ball recently, shown with a 0-of-5 showing from three-point range against Cincinnati, but still found ways to contribute on Saturday. He was 3-of-4 from inside of the arc and showed the same confidence with every jumper. As a 42.2% three-point shooter this season, his 0-for-7 showing so far in the NCAA Tournament is uncharacteristic, but you couldn’t tell his shooting woes from his body language. Booker is still cheering on his teammates from the sideline and contributing on the defensive end when struggling with his jumper. It’s a good sign that he still makes an impact and doesn’t fret when his shot isn’t falling.
-In a matchup that featured standout freshmen D’Angelo Russell and Stanley Johnson, senior T.J. McConnell was the top performer in an Arizona win over Ohio State. Russell was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting, but dished some remarkable passes and added seven rebounds with six assists. Johnson was held to four points on 1-of-12 shooting. McConnell, on the other hand, had 19 points, six assists, six rebounds, five steals, and just one turnover in 39 minutes while shooting 8-of-13 from the field. The 6-foot-1 point guard saw most of the defensive time on Russell and showed that his toughness and instincts compensated for his lack of elite athleticism. He’s the type of player that may go undrafted, but could steal an NBA roster spot during the summer league. McConnell plays with unmatched intensity and head coach Sean Miller has called his point guard an NBA player on numerous occasions.
-Xavier advanced to the Sweet 16 behind a key performance from Jalen Reynolds off the bench. The 6-foot-9 sophomore power forward had 21 points and six rebounds on a near-perfect 8-of-9 shooting. It was an impressive display from Reynolds, who dominated inside with his strength and athleticism. The talent has always been there, but consistency will be the key for Reynolds moving forward.
–Darrun Hilliard’s season came to an end in a 71-68 loss to N.C. State, but he was certainly not the reason for the loss. The 6-foot-6 senior scored 27 points on 8-of-18 shooting and a 6-of-10 display from three-point range. Hilliard is a sweet-shooting southpaw that averaged 2.1 made three-pointers per game while shooting 37.6% from deep. He’ll be a living overseas if he doesn’t stick on an NBA roster.
–L.J. Peak scored 18 points while shooting 7-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from distance for Georgetown in a loss to Utah. The 6-foot-5 wing is an athletic slasher that showed potential as a shooter. As just a freshman, it will be interesting to track his development moving forward.
–Justin Jackson has had an underrated tournament thus far. In two games, the freshman has scored 30 points while shooting 11-of-21 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range. The lengthy, 6-foot-8 wing is a skilled scorer with an advanced mid-range game. He shows a good feel for a floater while his three-point shot has looked fluid. If North Carolina gets a chance to face Wisconsin, it will make for an interesting matchup between two talented frontcourts.
-Everyone knows Jerian Grant is a future NBA player, but his backcourt mate Demetrius Jackson shows NBA potential in his own right. While it may be a year too early, Jackson is an electrifying 6-foot-1 point guard with loads of athleticism. He’s a quick ballhandler that can attack the rim or knock down the three-point jumper. He had 13 points against Butler while shooting 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range. Jackson is an explosive ballhandler and leaper that’s also shooting 41.4% from distance as a sophomore.
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.