Alford's number one job may be the one. One as in point guard. Tydides has been rightly pointing out it has been since DC that UCLA has had a real good point guard. And it has been since Jerime Anderson we even recruited someone to play point guard. In fairness, I think Larry Drew II worked out well for UCLA last year and was the pleasant surprise of the season but he was a transfer.
So where do we stand on point guards? Let me set the table of options and then give you coach Alford's answers. It is really early yet and it seemed no one knew when I started to write this on Sunday, literally.
"We've never talked about it," Anderson said in terms of who will be UCLA's starting point guard next season. "I've always looked at myself as a basketball player, so I'm just focusing on improving all aspects of my game. We'll talk about who plays what position when the season starts in September."
I understand waiting to see what certain players look like but I think Coach Alford should probably tell Kyle he is going to be playing some point, right? He was number 6 last year in the PAC 12 in assists.
Howland had always envisioned Anderson being used in a "point forward" type role with defensive ace Norman Powell defending the opponent's floor general, but Alford could have a different plan. The Bruins bring in a Top 50 recruit in 6-3 freshman Zach LaVine, and fellow freshman Bryce Alford (Steve's son) could also run the offense in a pinch.
I am not sure about that. If could be that never happen under Howland because Larry Drew II was so good. It could also be that Norman Powell was not a defensive ace against point guards. It could also be while Kyle is a great passer he is not a point guard even on offense.
But a wild care in the point guard discussion is Bryce Alford. Reading between the lines Bryce sure thinks he is a point guard.
"I was rated the 44th best shooting guard, and I don't even consider myself a shooting guard, so they don't even have that down right. No one knows about me."
Bryce did average 6.3 assists per game which is impressive for someone who also averaged 37.5 points . Bryce has a chip on his shoulder and desire. Good starts to be sure but is he athletic enough? While he is opposite of Kyle in that he can shoot well outside, he has the same questions of whether he can guard another team's point.
Which brings us to Zach LaVine. Here is a tidbit from Chris Foster:
There are three in-coming freshmen, including guard Zach LaVine, who is being counted on to contribute immediately. . . .
"Replacing point guard Larry Drew II is the biggest need. It remains to be seen if sophomore-to-be Kyle Anderson can handle the job on the college level. His size (6-8) is a match-up problem, but he needs to be quicker.
This sums it up to me. Everyone has it wrong. Anderson is not going to get quicker. What Anderson needs to do is learn how to score. Right now he can't take advantage of bigs or smalls covering him from the point to score. But most of all, Anderson needs a coach that will fully utilize his talent.
But this is Wednesday and we now have an answer. It is going to be Kyle and Bryce. In a story appropriately entitled "There Will Be No Honeymoon for Alford", Coach Alford answered.
"He's very versatile at 6-8 with a 7-foot wingspan [and] is really long and extremely talented," Alford said. "We can play him at multiple positions."
Alford's son Bryce, who was invited to the FIBA USA U-19 team tryouts last weekend, will be the other point guard. The younger Alford was a big-time scorer at La Cueva High in Albuquerque and received the necessary waiver to transfer immediately after his father moved from UNM to UCLA
."[Point guard] is a position [where] we'll be tested by youth," Alford said. "Kyle can play all over the floor, and we may have a four-guard lineup with him at the point and Bryce would be the other point guard."
Incoming ESPN 100 recruit Zach LaVine is also listed as a point guard, and while Alford thinks highly of his talent, the Washington native won't be put in a lot of pressure situations early.
It know seems apparent that Alford is really rolling the dice on his son. He likely turned down Freeman who wanted to be a point guard for his son. This could work in that his son can shoot from the outside but this seems to me the two least athletic players are going to be playing point, maybe at the same time. (ZONE?!) What will Kyle think of a four guard lineup where he is really playing the four or power forward? Kyle stayed in part because he wants to be a wing or point, not a four.
I am guessing this is a point guard by committee situation now.
Alford does seem to understand that whatever he does next year, he has to have a true point two seasons from now.
While Tydides detailed the need for Jordan McLaughlin and I must admit I prefer McLaughlin, another UCLA target Josh Perkins, may be a better point guard.
The debate over the country's best point guard in the class of 2014 has been engaging, but limited in its options.
. . .It might not be long before a third candidate emerges: Huntington (W.Va.) Prep's Josh Perkins.
And, more recently, longtime recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer called Perkins one of the best passers he's scouted in the past 10 years.
. . . "As far as degree of difficulty and seeing the play before it happens, yeah, I would say he's the best I've seen," Meyer told the Herald-Leader. "Now, as far as the more realistic passes you've gotta make, there are some other guys who are right there with him. But his creativity, his vision - it's unparalleled from what I've scouted."
A number of things about Perkins v McLaughlin.
- Perkins is 6'3". Perkins is bigger than McLaughlin (6'0") but not as quick.
- Perkins is a true pass first player. Perkins is a better passer but not as good a scorer .
- Perkins is from Colorado although he is playing his senior season at Huntington, West Virginia. Perkins is trying to make himself more nationally known.
They would both be good gets although I lean toward McLaughlin. There is no way they both come and UCLA will take whoever commits first. I guess there are two ways to look at it. Alford is playing them off each other to nail down a point guard. The other side is Alford is risking the key California recruit for a kid who wants to be nationally recruited.
The bottom line is this season Steve Alford needs to show he is a good bench coach of a talented team with some unique issues to run a point guard by committee. At the same time he needs to show he can recruit the elite players starting out with a good point guard.
Unlike past coaches, Alford has been given a team with talent and a key recruit that leans UCLA (McLauglin). He needs to deliver.