This kind of a down time for UCLA football fans, so I thought I would try an optimistic post. A post trying to predict and explain who will be the Basketball MVP for UCLA this year. To make this post even more far-fetched I will put a percentage chance on each of the candidates while I make the case on why they could be the MVP at the end of the season.
50% Lonzo Ball. How good is Lonzo Potential? According to this article the fifth best PAC 12 recruit this century. One thing is clear, Lonzo won't be the leading scorer:
"My dad put that in me," Ball said. "When I pretty much started, he asked me what position I wanted to play, and I said ‘point guard.' And he told me, ‘point guards aren't judged by how many points they score. They're judged on just wins and losses. So if you win the game you had a good game, if you lose the game you had a bad game.' So ever since then, that's how I play."
"Look at the McDonald's game, you're sitting there watching the TV like, ‘Are you ever going to shoot?'" Alford said recently with a laugh. "He took like three shots in the McDonald's game. But he's going to get 15 assists too, and then he'll get rebounds, he'll get steals. He'll ignite things. But it's because he understands how to play. He plays the game the right way."
And it's that reason --- Ball's basketball IQ --- Alford is as excited to coach Ball as fans are to watch him play. It's also why, beyond his transcendent natural skill, Ball is so important to the fate of this year's UCLA squad.
25% Aaron Holiday. Aaron Holiday is not even a lock to start, how can he be the MVP? Simple, he may be the best all-around player on the team. Quick, who led UCLA in three point percentage last year? Aaron Holiday shot a spectacular 42%. Steals, Holiday averaged twice as much as the next best player on UCLA. Yes, Holiday also lead UCLA in turnovers but he was the best defender and only a freshman. Holiday could make the leap and lead the Bruins to an elite season.
20% Isaac Hamilton. Remember who won the Defense Award on our last NCAA Tournament team? Yes, it was Isaac Hamilton, although arguably that team's third best defender, Isaac was often asked to cover the other team's best player to protect the team's MVP Norman Powell from foul trouble. And last year it Isaac, not Bryce, who was the team's leading scorer. Unlike Bryce, Isaac was effective all over the floor. Actually, Isaac's teardropper on a drive may have been our best offensive weapon. Isaac had the highest shooting percentage among players to made a three for the team as well. While, you can quibble on the details the fact is Isaac was the best offensive player last year and named the best defensively player the year before, this should be Senior Isaac Hamilton's team this year.
3% Bryce Alford. Bryce is the media darling for both good and bad right now. According to Dick Vitale he is among the top 10 guards in the country. According to cynics like Jeff Goodman daddyball will stop UCLA from succeeding. Putting all that aside, Bryce is the relatively rarity of a four year player and three year starter. Bryce has proven on multiple occasions that he can hit the big shot and is a clutch free throw shooter. Bryce is finally freed up to be his natural position of shooting guard. Could be become Reggie Miller like and be the mad bomb three shooter that leads UCLA to the tourney?
1% Ike Anigbogu . Ike is the longshot. Ike could become the dominating inside shot blocker that UCLA basketball has lacked since probably Ryan Hollins in his senior year. He seems ahead of Hollins in his ability around the rim on offense and could even be a Jelani McCoy. Or he could just be a raw freshman big.
1% Anyone else. Thomas Welsh was the MVP of the win over Kentucky last year and if he makes another big leap this season would be in the running to be MVP. TJ Leaf was a jack of all trades in Australia.
List your vote below.