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UCLA Basketball Press Conference: Focus on the Seniors

UCLA’s two key seniors have opposite backgrounds. Welsh’s family never misses a game, GG’s Mom will only be seeing her son for the second time at UCLA

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at UCLA
Hopefully GG will wrap up his last two games in front of his Mom with a bang.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First let’s start with Thomas Welsh. Welsh does not know how he will react to his last game. But he says of his time at UCLA:

Four years have flown by. I think it [coming back for his senior year] was a good decision. To be able to get my degree and have a senior year in college where I also have a chance to get better to improve my game, I think there are a lot of positives. . . . It has been a dream come true for me. Being an L.A. kid, my parents coming to the games and all that, it’s really been special.

Another player interviewed is Aaron Holiday. He looks bored and goes into coach speak. He does credit Tom’s hard work with showing how to be great.

Here is Steve Alford’s interview:

A few random notes for Steve Alford. He wishes the Montana game could be made up but that is not going to happen now. He says the players don’t know RPI. Focusing on the fact that last time we played Oregon State they beat us.

Interesting point for basketball junkies on how UCLA practices. On road game weeks UCLA practices exclusively in the Mo Austin Center. In home game weeks, Tuesday, Wednesday practices are in Pauley.

On-non seniors he has a few interesting comments. First on Prince Ali. Alford explains that UCLA needs Prince Ali for his defense and on the Boards.

Or even about getting a shot. Where he has helped us all year long is at the defensive end. He’s a big physical guard. That’s his role [ defense). . . . The way he can defend. The way he can rebound at the big guard position.

On Jaylen Hands he goes into coach speak but does recognize that Hands is working on the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. For Chris Smith he praises his ability to take the ball to the rim and rebound. Alford feels Smith should develop a great defender. Although right now his strength is getting to the rim, his shooting is better than his numbers.

To the question on what the Seniors mean to the Program. He starts with Ike Okwarabizie:

Ike has not got a lot attention. He is someone who has really worked hard and going to graduate. Tremendous job of practicing hard every day.

On GG:

GG has been somebody who has improved each year. . . . He is playing his best basketball now. He is very confident. He has grown into his body and the way he has to play very nicely.

Alec Wulf works hard. On Thomas Welsh.

Tom is going graduate too. Tom has been a special player everybody has been able to watch and see . That’s been great to see how Tom is developed.

On all the seniors he says:

Those four as a group that I appreciate the most is: what kind of people they are, what kind of students they are and what kind of players they are. Because they embodied what we want our culture to look like. That is what I appreciate the most.

The last part I want to focus on is GG. Alford waxes on what I think his favorite position is, the stretch four and how GG’s improved play is key to that. How he is doing better and will get more minutes.

It is easy to forget what GG has gone through to play at UCLA from Hungary. GG’s mother and sister are coming to the games this weekend and this will mark only second time his Mom has seen him play at UCLA. GG is funny too and describes how he misses goulash and describes the importance of paprika.

I’m mixed. I’m sad. It all seems so quick. It’s been four years and it is time to move on but at the same time it has been very special. Going to go pro. . . wherever the road takes me. If NBA does not work, plan to give Europe a shot. I’m finding my game. I’ve had my ups and down but right now I am at a good point.

Full interview below of Welsh, Holiday and GG:

Thank you GG, Ike, Alec and Thomas.

Go Bruins.