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UCLA Basketball: Forget Josh Smith and Even Shabazz, UCLA Has Another Star

Shanghai in "SlowMo"
Shanghai in "SlowMo"

I was intending to do a wrap up of the China games but when re-watching the fourth quarter of the third game I changed my mind. Forget about Josh Smith's waste waist line. Forget about Shabazz Muhammad's problems from his Duke trip and AAU issues. UCLA has another potential star on its team that may be unlike any other in UCLA's storied history.

So what happen in the fourth quarter? Well let's start with the sometimes deceiving stat line for just that quarter:

Kyle Anderson 5-5 FG (1-1 Three Point), 4 Rebounds (2 Offensive), 3 assists

Are you kidding me? I can add all the caveats you want (yes this was an exhibition game), but here is the thing, his actual performance was more impressive then the line.

For, we needed this from Anderson and he delivered. The Shanghai Sharks outscored UCLA 20-17 in the third quarter and had some momentum. They had trimmed the lead and you did not have to think back far to last season when UCLA choked multiple leads and lost 5 games by a total of 11 points. This could have happen again for in plays not involving Anderson the rest of the team had more turnovers than baskets for the quarter.

Kyle was a leader and star. Briefly a play-by-play of the UCLA offense in the fourth quarter of the final exhibitionism game against China.

  • Anderson finds Powell alone underneath on a beautiful pass that sails through Powell's hands. Powell says "my bad."
  • Anderson rebounds Powell's missed three and puts it back in. This is more impressive for the way he did it. He gets the rebound high and keeps the ball high. No dribbles or gathering himself. So many kids take the ball down.
  • Anderson makes the zone pay with a nice three pointer.
  • Turnover Powell (strang call).
  • Turnover David Wear.
  • Anderson grabs the defensive rebound goes length of the court and hits Larry Drew for a three pointer (Note I think it was ruled a 2). Assist Anderson
  • Anderson just misses another assist on a nice pass to David Wear but it is deflected out of bounds.
  • David Wear misses a short jumper.
  • From the high post, Anderson hits an open Powell who misses the three. Anderson grabs the rebound but Jordan Adams knocks it out of his hands
  • Anderson scores on a Dunk
  • Adams misses a three (Anderson not involved in this. He is in high post and only touches the ball once).
  • Adams misses driving layup, offensive rebound and tip in Anderson.

Okay, I want to take a break here. At this point after the first 6:40 of the fourth quarter (played under Chinese rules with four ten minute quarters), Anderson has nine points and an assist on the other basket. In other words every point UCLA scored to this point has been because of Anderson. Furthermore, Anderson could have two more assists and one more rebound very easily. The rest of UCLA's line (taking out the Anderson assisted basket) at this point in the fourth is 0-5 with three turnovers, the kind of stats that led to the collapses we saw last year.

  • Tyler Lamb steal and layup.
  • Tyler Lamb three, assist Larry Drew.
  • Then my favorite play of the game happens. Kyle gets the defense rebound, does a long pass to Tyler Lamb at the three point line on the break. But China has two guys back. Tyler passes the ball to the trailer cutting down the lane, Kyle, who without a dribble draws both defenders to him and does a touch pass assist to Travis Wear for the alley oop dunk. This play was so good on multiple levels.

First, it is so beautiful to see a big guy (Anderson was playing power forward at the time) start a break. Second, it was so good to see a secondary break with good decisions. China stopped the initial break with two guys back as Lamb was cut off. Third, Anderson hustled down the court to trail the play. Fourth, Anderson not only made a good pass to Wear, he drew two defenders to him and did a perfect alley oop pass for a dunk that was the highlight of the game.

  • Drew is out of the game. Anderson is four on defense and the point guard on offense!!! Anderson as point guard takes some time off the clock drives to the right drawing the defense to him then hits Jordan Adams who drains a three pointer. Assist Anderson.
  • Tyler Lamb turnover
  • Jordan Adams scores and is fouled (maybe assist Lamb)
  • Steal Adams and hard foul against him. Adams makes two free throws
  • Anderson ends the game with a layup basket.

I just focused on the fourth quarter and offense. Anderson at other times looked like a freshman and needs some serious work on defense. But, he really showed he has the potential to be special.

Forget Josh Smith and Shabazz for a moment. Anderson is unique in a way that maybe no other player in college. A power forward/point guard?! Howland had better run to take advantage of Kyle. Howland has no excuses this year. He has a potentially great team without Josh and even a potentially good team without Shabazz. I have watched Anderson 5 times now and I also think he is the type of player who will be better when his teammates learn how to play with him. The biggest problem may be what to call Anderson at the end of year, All Pac-12 guard or forward?

Go Bruins.