Hello fellow UCLA Basketball fanatics.
If you're anything like me, pre-season, you digest absolutely every piece of information out there about our basketball team. If you're a normal human being, you probably just like basketball. Either way, please feel free to check out this video taken at practice. It's not too exhaustive, it details a few drills that the Bruins were running, but most importantly it gave us a look at some new faces, and some *gasp* reinvented ones. I'll explain after the jump. As the link implies, this is on BRO, for free.
Low Post -To begin the video, we watch a low post drill, with Josh Smith popping out to the high post to dump a pass into a player now in the low post. First thing to note, Josh Smith looks like he's in MUCH better shape than he was about 6 months ago. We're seeing muscle definition and some lightness in his step, which, considering the guy is pretty big (300+) is impressive. I for one am extremely proud we have a guy who worked so hard (coming back from injury as well) and made such a transition. It shows a true dedication to not only UCLA baskeball but to his future. Something we lacked in, oh I don't know, Gordon, Stanback. We then watch Anthony Stover run the same drill. The guy is clearly underweight, but not by the stick-figure proportions some have reported. He will definitely see some time this year, i'm thinking something like 10 min per game. The thing to note? The guy has a serious wingspan. Like, albatross status.
Next we watch a drill where our guards work the ball into the halfcourt, to give to the post player at the top of the key, who dishes it back to the guards while posting up, to recieve an inlet pass and score over their defender with a post move. Things to note; Reeves looks very quick and athletic, with plenty of pop off the floor for the dunk. Brendan Lane looks like his back-to-the-basket game is still a work in progress. I think we're going to look at him from more of a face up standpoint. It will be interesting to see how this aspect of his game develops. David Wear looks excellent in the post. He, and his brother, will be a force next year. Haters, take note.
Shooting Drills - Here comes my favorite part. I love analyzing shot mechanics. Tyler Honeycutt and Zeke Jones take turns shooting what looks to be about 16 foot jumpers. I absolutely love TH's stroke. It's beautiful, I would say second best on the team. I hope he shoots quite a bit this year. Zeke struggles a bit more. He has good height, good mechanics, but his release is more of a flick as opposed to smooth motion. A few of the shots have a noticeably smoother release, and those happen to be the ones he makes. All told, he probably won't be a huge shooting threat, but he'll keep defenses honest.
This next one shocked me out of my shoes. There was a guy taking jumpers with good mechanics, good release, needs a bit more height on his shot, a little more consistancy...is...is that.... MALCOLM???? WUT???? Sorry. This blew my mind. Malcolm Lee has completely changed his shot mechanics. If any of you remember last year, his elbow was pointed out to Timbuktu, and his release was horrible, not to mention his mechanics of rotating the ball around his head like he was shaking a martini. This video makes him look... pretty good, actually. He's not there yet, but it looks much more consistent, at least out to 16 feet. Anderson looks pretty much the same. I've never had many issues with his shot. Other issues... but his shot looks fine.
And at the other end of the court, on the same drill, we see Tyler Lamb and Matt Carlino. Lamb looks very lanky and very polished. I'm excited for him this year. He looks long enough to play the three from this perspective. Carlino... wow. What a stroke. Best on the team, from what i've seen of this year and last, hands down. This kid can shoot the basketball. How far out that shot extends, whether he can make those in gametime, always remains to be seen. But the feathery way the ball hits the net. It's like butter. Drago was like Larry Bird at practice (forgive me, Larry), but during the game became.... we shall speak no more of this.
Finally, post players taking outside shots. Reeves makes a couple of nice threes. Might be a new addition to his game? I don't see him taking many of those, hopefully, but these looked nice. Lane looks good from three, but a little bit less consistent from the right side when he's shooting midrange. He'll work on that, but seems to have a nice stroke.
All told? I'm very excited. This team looks like it can shoot the basketball, although game situations are very different. I'm very excited for the futures of Carlino, Lamb, and the Wears (David is LESS skilled offensively!). I simply cannot wait for the season. Enjoy!