Before the UCLA Bruins tipped off last season, forward Jalen Hill along with teammate Cody Riley and former teammate LiAngelo Ball were taken into custody by state police in China. The Bruins were slated to open the season with a game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, but Hill and his teammates ran into trouble in Hangzhou before they could even step on the court.
Jalen Hill’s career at UCLA got off to a horrible start, but he has the opportunity to right the ship this season. Injuries to key players have opened up a golden opportunity for Hill to produce and he’s certainly going to get some good burn. The former Corona Centennial product has had a full season of live practices under his belt and, as a result, is now acclimated to head coach Steve Alford’s system. There's no doubt Hill is going to want to bounce back with a vengeance.
Standing at 6’10” with a near 7-foot wingspan, Hill possesses the intangibles of helping make this Bruins basketball team a pest on defense. His long arms allow him to deflect passes which would help UCLA force more turnovers. Although a bit slimmer for his position, Hill should be able to get rebounds with his freakishly long arms. With teammate Moses Brown in the fold, the Bruins could wreak havoc defensively this year.
His senior year of high school he averaged 18.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1 steal and 1.2 blocks per game. The Bruins need Hill to step up offensively, especially with all the injuries that are currently ailing the Bruins. Hill will have plenty of opportunities to get shots up offensively, so he will need to play aggressively this year.
Areas to Improve
With Brown holding it down on the low block, Hill will need to develop a reliable three-point shot. Hill has a solid in-between game, displaying a soft touch from close range. However, UCLA needs him to stretch the floor to allow the offense to move more fluid. Any incremental improvement to his perimeter jump shot will certainly be a welcome sign for head coach Steve Alford and the Bruins.
Jalen Hill’s only game so far was in the Bruins’ season opener on Tuesday night against the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons. The lanky forward drew the start and hit all three of his shots for 6 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in 23 minutes of play. Although the offense looked stagnant at times, it’s to be expected in the season opener. More importantly, Hill played a turnover-free 23 minutes and looked comfortable on both ends of the floor in UCLA’s season opener.
Jalen Hill has the tools to take this UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team to the next level. With injuries to key rotation players, it’s his time to shine and show Bruin fans his worth. It’s of little doubt that Jalen Hill is one of UCLA’s better perimeter defenders, but he also adds a different element to the Bruins offensively with his big and long frame. He has the unique ability to put the ball on the floor and also move defenders out of the way using his go-go-gadget length. Hill may prove to be one of UCLA’s most important pieces to watch in the early going with the Bruins lacking depth up and down the roster.