Did you know that the first official practice for the 2014-15 season was this past Saturday, October 4? Well, if you've been reading Bruin Hoops Bites, then you know - otherwise there was nary a peep. The Athletic Department did put out this press release.
Powell, along with sophomore Bryce Alford and Parker are the only three players returning from last season's squad that played major minutes. Alford, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 8.0 points per game and was one of just two freshmen nationwide to log at least 100 assists and fewer than 50 turnovers. One of five selections to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team, Alford will play a greater role during his sophomore season.
Parker made a substantial jump in production during his sophomore year. After averaging nearly six minutes per game as a freshman (2012-13), Parker logged 6.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in all 37 contests, making nine starts as a sophomore. The 6-foot-9 forward/center from Atlanta will provide a challenge for incoming freshman Welsh in practice this month as the two big men battle under the basket.
Sophomores Noah Allen and Wanaah Bail saw limited action as freshmen last season and will look for their roles to increase. Both players were in Westwood during the summer and are back at full strength this fall after having battled various minor injuries during the 2013-14 season.
Hamilton sat out last season but competed in practice as the scout team's most skilled guard. The 6-foot-4 product from nearby St. John Bosco High School earned McDonald's All-America honors in 2013 and will be counted on from the start to bolster UCLA's backcourt.
That's some breaking news there!
The press wasn't invited in before, during or after the practice. Media day is October 23. Will the press be invited in before then? Are they in full bunker mode? This is no way to run an airline. I've been careful to qualify my opinions until I actually see the new guys play and how the old guys look after having a summer under their belts. Your reporter will have a hard time giving you good early intel if there isn't an open practice this year. Meanwhile, Kansas is apparently inviting a boatload of elite recruits (may of them ours too) for "Late Night in the Phog."
In the meantime, here's the other news:
- ICYMI, AD Dan Guerrero gave Steve Alford a one-year contract extension (official press release). The Daily Bruin published a copy of the extension, and it appears the buyout was extended by a year as well. For example, if Alford was terminated before April 17, 2017, he would receive $10.4 million. That was 2016 before the extension.
- Recruiting updates: Jaylen Brown had a Q&A with Scout (not behind the firewall as of this writing). Of note is that Brown is now undecided on whether he announces his decision in November or April. Also of note is that he left the crack open for North Carolina which previously hadn't been mentioned as a contender. Jaylen Brown and Stephen Zimmerman, our two top recruiting targets, are apparently killing it at the USA Basketball Junior National Team mini-camp.
- Oregon's meltdown continues. Two of the only three returning returning scholarship players were busted for shoplifting.
- Kudos to Lorenzo Romar. Perhaps he can't coach, but he just did what Steve Alford won't do: shake-up his staff. It paid off immediately for 2015 recruiting.
- Last week, I warned you that you should brace yourself for an onslaught of bad poll news. Here's yet another preseason poll with Arizona on top and UCLA nowhere to be found.
My comment on the Alford contract extension: Alford's contract already ran through April 2020. He had only coached one season here. Guerrero is 62 years old. How long does this guy plan on staying in the job? The only thing I can figure out is that Guerrero never wants to conduct another coaching search.