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What’s Bruin: Is UCLA Basketball's Steve Alford Really a Candidate for Coach of the Year?

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News and notes from around the UCLA-iverse.

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Men’s Basketball

Coach of the Year awards can be pretty silly, usually going to the guy who exceeds low expectations rather than the "best coach," however that may be defined.

Gary Parrish at CBSSports ranks his top ten Coach of the Year candidates, and Steve Alford checks in at #3.

UCLA was 16th in the preseason AP poll but is now second in the Top 25 (and one) with an 18-1 record featuring a win at Kentucky. Alford's Bruins are running a historically great offense with an effective field goal percentage of 61.7. He's taken a program that finished 15-17 last season and turned it into a national title contender.

Matt Cummings in the Daily Bruin has a piece about Thomas Welsh’s dangerous mid-range jumper:

In the era of basketball’s analytics revolution, teams increasingly hunt shots either at the rim or behind the 3-point arc, with the popularity of the mid-range jumper plummeting.

But Welsh has been so deadly on his baseline jumpers that they represent a good outcome, even for the nation’s best offense.

The big man is shooting a devastating 71 percent on short mid-range shots along the baseline, per Synergy Sports, a mark that makes the shot more efficient than UCLA’s nation-leading effective field goal percentage of 61.7 percent.

Football

From Ben Bolch and Lindsay Thiry in the LA Times, Jim Mora is poised to close strong again as national signing day nears for the 2017 recruiting class.

Finishing recruiting season with a flourish has become a tradition during Mora’s UCLA tenure dating back to even before his first season, when he was hired in December 2011 and had only a few months to secure his first class.

"They’ve added elite players every single year in January and they always close well," said Brandon Huffman, director of recruiting for Scout.com. "The knock on them is, what would it be like if they recruited with this energy and enthusiasm the whole year, because they’ve always gotten the criticism of taking the summer off and that’s always where the decommits happen or the curious offers. But then they close well every time."

One guy that’s going to help the recruiting rankings—and the on-field product—is Jaelen Philips, who just this week was ranked as the #2 prospect in the nation by 247sports in their final rankings for 2017.

Simmons says: "This is what the modern-day edge defender is supposed to look like. There's no system or package that a defensive coordinator can draw up that won't feature Phillips as a focal point. He can do everything."

And from Scout, a re-ranking of their classes by percentage of commits in the Scout 100 has UCLA 7th, rather than the class ranking of 23rd (for now...)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Day

Going to the Arizona game at Pauley Pavilion this weekend? You’re going to see a special guest...

GO BRUINS.