"I feel like last year was perfect for me," said Parker, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove High. "I feel like I needed a reality thing."
He was hampered by injuries, ballooning to more than 280 pounds, and unhappy with his situation.
Parker was pondering a transfer when coach Ben Howland was fired and replaced by Steve Alford.
"Coach Alford talked with my parents and me, and we had a detailed discussion on what we wanted to do," Parker said. "I felt it was a good place for me to be."
Hiring Wes Long, a strength and conditioning coach who works only with the men's basketball team, was a key moment, Alford said.
Parker sounds like a happy camper. While it is debatable how much blame goes to Howland or credit goes to Alford, Alford can take credit for hiring a full time basketball strength coach in Wes Long. Wes has worked wonders on Parker and is not done. Jack Wang has more from Parker .
"Coach Alford is a great guy. A great coach. . . . [The final tally on the weight loss is] 25 pounds. I want to gain 5 pounds of muscle. [He is now] 257. . . . If I am in shape I can play."
Alford seems to be keen on getting Wannah Bail eligible and back from injury (likely November). He admits UCLA is thin up front. (I bet Kyle is playing four on D some again.) But the key is with the exception of Arizona, UCLA has arguably more talent than anyone else in the PAC 12.
"We hope [the weight loss] has a dramatic impact because we're not deep up front. But if we stay healthy, we've got the talent," Alford said. "Tony is a winner and he competes that way. Now that his body is changing and his confidence is high ... now it's just a much better product."
This is a talented UCLA team Alford was given. Barring an injury to Adams or Anderson, it should do very well. For as Kyle Anderson tweeted:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Coming to ucla was the best decision i ever made facts</p>— SLOWMO (@KyleAnderson5) <a href="https://twitter.com/KyleAnderson5/statuses/387320109259161600">October 7, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Remember that Alford, UCLA is special. Go Bruins!