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Bruin Bites: UCLA Basketball Edition

As the season winds down, we look at some of the basketball topics still floating around. Who will replace Chris Roberts? How smart were the experts in their brackets? Can anyone catch UCLA11? It's all here in Bruin Bites - Basketball Edition.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season is not over. UCLA's Women's basketball team advanced to the WNIT Final Four with a nice win over Michigan on Wednesday night. A tip of the BN hat to the team for putting up a gallant effort all season long. A continuation of the debate about whether the team should have accepted a WNIT bid will wait for another day.

There is no need to speculate any more about whether Kevon Looney will return next year. According to, he plans to declare for the draft and get an agent. Thanks for everything, Kevon. We wish you well in the NBA. Do you suppose he will come back and finish his degree? I hope so.

Congratulations are in order for Kevon and for Norman Powell, who were named to the All-District second team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. That's just one more bit of good news for Looney, who was named Freshman All-American by CBS, just after he was selected as one of 21 Kyle Macy Award Finalists. (The Kyle Macy Award goes to the nation's top freshman.) Stanley Johnson of Arizona and Jakob Poeltl of Utah are the other two finalists for the Kyle Macy Award from the Pac-12, and are also on the All-American Team (Johnson on the first team, Looney on the second team, and Poeltl on the third team). In my totally objective and unbiased opinion, Kevon should get the Kyle Macy Award. He averaged 11.6 points a game despite being the sixth or seventh option in the offensive scheme. He also had 15 double-doubles.

Some of you might view basketball season in a little broader perspective, and it must be conceded that there are still a few games left to play. Of course, the talking heads will explain exactly why one team or another is certain to come out on top, and they will be totally serious about their pontification. Just like they were about their bracket predictions. The good part about being a TV talking head expert is that you don't really have to be accurate in your predictions. You just have to be loud. Here's what some of the experts pontificated for the Elite Eight.

Sports Illustrated had four guys give their predictions: All four whiffed on the Eastern region. Seth Davis correctly guessed as to five out of the eight teams in the Elite Eight. He said Northern Iowa beats Virginia, Duke beats SMU (thank you, Bruins), Arizona beats Wisconsin and Kentucky beats Wichita State.

Luke Winn also got five out of eight. He said Virginia beats Villanova, Duke beats Gonzaga, Arizona beats Wisconsin and Kentucky beats Wichita State.

Pete Thamel is another five out of eight guy. (As an aside, I don't pay attention to talking or writing heads most of the time, and had never heard of Pete Thamel until now. I looked him up, and found on his bio that he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize "for his work uncovering diploma mills that were giving fast and easy grades to talented high school prospects." Good work, I thought. An honest, courageous reporter, I thought. Then I saw that he was a 1999 graduate of Syracuse where he worked as sports editor for the Daily Orange, and for a Syracuse newspaper. Yeah, go get ‘em, Pete. You nailed those diploma mills, but you never noticed anything at all in how many years at Syracuse? You know what, though? He's a perfect choice for the Fishwrap to hire as an investigative journalist to cover just$c*) Anyway, Courageous Pete said Virginia beats Villanova, Duke beats Iowa State, Wisconsin beats Arizona and Kentucky beats Notre Dame.

Brian Hamilton only four out of eight. (Heck, I had four out of eight.) He said Villanova beats Virginia, Duke beats Iowa State, Wisconsin beats Arizona and Kentucky beats Wichita State.

I know there are two guys whose predictions you really want. Despite being a douche, Jay Bias, oops, I mean Bilas, got six out of eight: Virginia beats Villanova, Duke beats Gonzaga, Wisconsin beats Arizona and Kentucky beats Notre Dame.

And now, Dickie V, bay bee: Dickie scored six out of eight into the Elite Eight, but only one into the Final Four. He said, as almost everyone said, Virginia beats Villanova, Gonzaga beats Duke, Arizona beats Wisconsin and Kentucky beats Notre dame.

To put things into perspective, UCLA11 got seven out of the Elite Eight, and a perfect score for the Final Four: Michigan State beats Louisville, Duke beats Gonzaga, Wisconsin beats Arizona and Kentucky beats Kansas.

Moving on, There was speculation as to who might replace Chris Roberts. The Daily News addressed that question, and said there were "two prime candidates." Then the article listed Ron Pitts, Josh Lewin and Matt "Money" Smith. Hmm. It seems to me that they listed three guys as their two candidates, but what do I know.) I have never listened to any of these guys, and the likelihood is next to zero that I will ever hear them. That said, I vote against, and irrevocably against, anyone who has given himself a nickname, as I’m sure Matt "Money" Smith did. I am doubly against anyone with a nickname that sounds like it’s an homage to the cast of Jersey Shore. I would almost rather have Doug "The Douchebag" Gottlieb, for crying out loud.

The news is worse than you think. The Daily News article says that Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and associate AD for communications Josh Rupprecht are "at the forefront of the decision." With Director Guerrero making the decision, I have but one thing to say. (Thanks to Xenomorph Grid for that.) We really could end up with Gottlieb.

Jack Wang doesn't think that we should necessarily expect UCLA to return for a third straight Steve Sixteen. It's not so much a personnel issue (either on the court or at the end of the bench) with Wang. He cited the Bruins' fortunate draw of double-digit seeds, and wasn't sure that we would have that same good fortune in the future. His opinion changes if the team lands "one more major recruit," saying that a blue chip player could make UCLA's lineup "very dangerous."

So what about the recruits? Jaylen Brown still has hasn't decided where he'll go, but hopes to make that decision in April. My speculation is Michigan, but the UM Hoops article shows a projection with Kentucky as the favorite at 42% with the Bruins being at 39%. Who knows? We should find out some soon. (I want to know the equation that can make those calculations down to that fine a degree.)

As of now, Scouthoops has us as the #15 recruiting class in the country, 3rd in the Pac-12 (behind Arizona (#1) and Washington (huh?) (#6) and only one ahead of just$c*. Arizona has three 5 star recruits, three of the top 25 and 4 of the top 50 recruits in the country. The three guys who have committed to UCLA so far are PF Alex Olesinski (6'8", 195lbs), SG Prince Ali (6'0, 175 lbs), and Aaron Holiday (6'0, 175 lbs), ranked #1 PG in California, #1 in the west, and #4 PG in the country.)

Here's something I found interesting. This site shows everyone in each class at each school. Did you know our senior class this year is not just Norman Powell? That there are six other guys? You're a hard core fan if you can name them. You can look at all the teams at this site, including Kentucky and its senior class. Yep, the three guys who played a grand total of 37 minutes this year (less than 18 seconds a game). Say what you want about Calipari, but you have to admit that he knows how to fill spots on his team. He needs three guys who will make sure that the "Academic Progress Rate" for the team stays fine. I wonder who will take that role next year for the Wildcats? Or for the Bruins? Maybe we'll have to do it with guys actually on the team. What a concept!

And that's the news.