Last season it seemed every story was about off the court issues, is Shabazz eligible, hurt, etc. It never seemed to end. Even after Shabazz left he was still an issue as the soap opera continued with his jailed trogan dad and choosing his assist average as his number. This season seems eerily similar. The issue now is Dan Guerrero's panic hire going to make it and how many mistakes did panicked Dan make?
But today I want to write something about a surprise last year, a good surprise: Larry Drew II. I thought that there was a good chance that Larry Drew would start. I thought there was no chance he would lead the team in assists.
To be clear Kyle Anderson did his part. He finished number sixth in the conference in assists. Usually that is good enough to lead a team in assists. Larry Drew was just better, actually great. He finished number four in the COUNTRY in assists and number one ALL TIME for UCLA in a season.
This stat was not a fluke. He was number 7 in assists to turnover ratio in the country.
As the season progressed some experts said well all Larry does is hand the ball off to Shabazz, Jordan, and Travis for a shot. He can't shoot.
Then Larry hit game winning shots. Who before the season thought it would be Larry Drew II taking and making the big shots with the game on the line (of course this being the 2012-13 Bruins Shabazz still got in the story negatively):
Larry Drew II ignored Muhammad clapping for the ball at the top of the key and launched a jumper of his own at the buzzer, lifting UCLA to a 59-57 victory over Washington on Thursday night, ending a two-game skid.
"The defense pretty much dictated it," Drew said. "My eyes were on the rim and I just had an opening and had confidence in my shot."
The fall-away jumper by Drew over Washington defender Shawn Kemp Jr. was his third game-winning basket of the season.
The shocking Larry did not end there. The biggest concerns about Larry was that he was the rare player who did not like to shoot and worse was not a good outside shooter. He was a guy opponents wanted to dare to shoot outside. ASU did this to perfection to UCLA for an embarrassing and disastrous conference loss.
Yet, then came another shock. Larry started drilling the outside shot. Larry went 4-4 from three and scored 20 points in the revenge game against ASU. The most he had scored since high school.
Most impressively Larry shot 43.3% for the season from three to lead the Bruins. By contrast he shot 20.7 percent from three his last season in North Carolina. If Larry had taken enough shots from three to qualify, he would have been ranked number 2 in the PAC 12 and number 17 in the country.
Larry was really a player who got as much as he could out of his one year at UCLA. He was a pleasant surprise. He is now with the Miami Heat summer league team although he is yet to play.
While Shabazz continues to get the headlines from that team, Larry Drew II was the one who will be missed.
Thanks Larry. Go Bruins.