Tonight on ESPN at 4 p.m. Pacific time, the draft get underway. UCLA will have two players drafted tomorrow night and, one of them, Kevon Looney will be in the room. The LA Times has an article on the players who will be there.
UCLA forward Kevon Looney is among 19 players that have been invited to spend some time in the Barclays Center green room during the NBA draft on Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y. An invitation to the green room is reserved for players expected to be selected in the first round. . . .
Potentially joining Looney in the draft day festivities Thursday night is Norman Powell. The 6-foot-4 guard is projected to be a second round pick. Powell led the Bruins in scoring as a senior with 16.4 points per game.
Last year, Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) was the only UCLA player invited to the green room, but three Bruins in all, including Jordan Adams (Memphis Grizzlies) and Kyle Anderson (San Antonio Spurs), were selected in the first round with pick Nos. 13, 22 and 30.
UCLA has produced 112 total draft picks, tied with Kentucky for the most from a single school. That could change on draft night. Three of the seven Wildcats who declared for the draft have been invited to the green room.
First on Looney. Looney has been predicted anywhere from 7-23. Why the big range? I have talked to a few people and the rumor that it was because of Asthma are incorrect. It is for one reason as mentioned in Chad Forde's Mock Draft Version 7 on ESPN.com.
He's also the furthest away of the three and questions about a hip he injured before his freshman season at UCLA and a form of sports asthma have caused his stock to slip from the mid-lottery to here. He's worked out well recently, however, and if teams can get comfortable with the hip (the asthma thing doesn't seem to worry anyone), he could end up going as high as the Heat at No. 10.
The hip thing is scaring some people and hurting Kevon. I do recall him elevating less later in the season. Blake Murphy writes more about Looney's hip injury on TheScore.com.
That injury kept him from practicing with the Bruins until the season began and put him behind the curve for conditioning all season long. And while Looney is putting in extra conditioning work and doing yoga to improve his strength and flexibility, team doctors will surely be looking at his medicals closely.
If it's a limiting factor in his athleticism moving forward, it's conceivable that teams who prefer Looney as a small forward could be turned off. With a somewhat wiry frame and a decent outside shot, Looney could probably play either forward spot. But he sounds more comfortable at the four, in part because he loves to hit the glass.
However, I think Kevon is a great kid who will work hard whether it is yoga or in the weight room. I like this review from ESPN better.
"He could be an [Lamar] Odom-type," the scout said. "He can shoot it and score from the interior, pass and make plays off of the dribble. I like him there."
Two separate scouts said recently that feel as if Looney is one of the most underrated players in the draft.
"We could be having a different conversation about Kevon Looney in five years," one said.
Looney had strong rebounding numbers in college (he had 15 double-doubles) and made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts. Those statistics -- and his 7-4 wingspan -- are reasons why NBA executives view him as a first-round talent.
If Kevon's hip is right he is going to be very good I think. Turning to Norman Powell, I think he is a lock to contribute, according to ESPN's mock draft:
46. Norm Powell, SG, UCLA
The Bucks could use more help at the two guard. OJ Mayo is in the last year of his deal and Powell's athleticism and improving jump shot could make him a nice rotation player.
I like this analysis on CBSSports.com better. It considers Norman to be a hidden gem:
Norman Powell, UCLA: If you want Powell to defend, he'll defend. If you want him to rebound, he'll rebound. If you want him to be a part of winning -- well, that's what he does best. The second round of the NBA Draft is about finding hidden gems who can make your team a little better every day in practice, and that's Powell in a nutshell. A relentless on-ball defender, the 6-4 guard can cover multiple positions on the perimeter. He also averaged an impressive 4.7 rebounds last season at UCLA. There's a lot of things to like here.
I think Looney will be real good, I feel even more confident Powell can contribute.
I wish we got to see more of what Looney could do and I will definitely miss Norman Powell. Let me close with some quotes from NP4 from a Q&A on BCSNN.com that sound like they could have been written by BN:
Q: Which game sticks out to you as your most exciting college game or performance at UCLA?
A: I performed my best against, well there are a couple of games that come to mind, but I would say against Oregon my senior year at home in Pauley Pavilion. [We picked that Monday.]
Q: How would your teammates and coaches describe you?
A: They would describe me as hard working, committed, focused, determined and a great leader both on and off the court.
Q: Did your team have a nickname for you?
A: Coach Alford liked to call me bowlegs. A couple of the guys called me "NP," "Norm" or whatever else came to mind.
Good luck, NP4 and Kevon!
How To Watch:
Date: Thursday, June 25
Time: 4 pm PT
Place: Barclays Center, Brooklyn
This is your all-day-long NBA Draft Open Thread because, let's face it...we all need to take a break from "All Diddy, All The Time".