Friday, June 24, 2016

Recruiting 2017

Commits: 3
Spots Left: 1
Open Offers: 17

ESPN Top 60 players for 2017 (List link


Verbal Commits

Jaylen Hands PG (San Diego/Foothills Christian HS) ESPN 2017 #38 player 



LiAngelo Ball SG (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS) 



Jalen Hill C (Corona, CA/Centennial HS) ESPN 2017 #44 player



Offered

1) Point Guards

Treven Duval (Wilmington, DE/Advanced Prep Intl) ESPN 2017 #5 player 



Troy Brown Jr. (Las Vegas, NV/Centennial HS) ESPN 2017 #28 player 



Trae Young (Norman, OK/Norman North HS) ESPN 2017 #21 player 



2) Shooting Guards

Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley, MN/Apple Valley HS) ESPN 2017 #9 player 



Lonnie Walker (Reading, PA/Reading HS) ESPN 2017 #14 player 



Charles "Chuck" O'Bannon Jr. (Las Vegas, NV/Bishop Gorman HS) 
ESPN 2017 #23 player 



Jaylen Nowell (Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) ESPN 2017 #45 player 



3) Small Forwards

Kris Wilkes (Indianapolis, IN/North Central HS) ESPN 2017 #11 player 



Brian "Tugs" Bowen (Saginaw, MI/La Muiere) ESPN 2017 #10 player 



D.J. Harvey Jr. (Bowie, MD/DeMatha Catholic HS) ESPN 2017 #36 player 



Andre Rafus (Roselle, NJ/Roselle Catholic HS)  


4) Power Forwards

Cody Riley (Chatsworth, CA/Sierra Canyon HS) ESPN 2017 #40 player



Ira Lee (Chatsworth, CA/Prolific) ESPN 2017 #77 player



5) Centers

Nicholas Richards (Queens, NY/The Patrick School) ESPN 2017 #8 player



Jeremiah Tilmon (East St. Louis, IL/La Lumiere School) ESPN 2017 #29 player



Malik Williams (Ft. Wayne, IN/R. NelsonSnider HS) ESPN 2017 #42 player



Isiah Jasey (Killeen, TX/Sunrise Christian Academy)
(Monster block on Vine link)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recruiting 2018

Commits: 0
Spots Left: 3
Open Offers: 13

All offerers are included in the ESPN Top 60 players for 2018 (List link

1) Point Guards

Darius Garland (Brentwood, TN/Brentwood Academy) ESPN 2018 #17 player 



Immanuel Quickley (Bel Air, MD/John Carroll School)  ESPN 2018 #19 player


Brandon Williams (Encino, CA/Crespi Carmelite HS) ESPN 2018 #31 player 


2) Shooting Guards

Romeo Langford (New Albany, IN/New Albany Sr HS) ESPN 2018 #2 player




Jules Bernard (Los Angeles/Windward) ESPN 2018 #53 player


3) Small Forwards

Gerald Liddell (Cibolo, TX/Byron P. Steele II HS) 
ESPN 2018 #8 player 



Zion Williamson (Spartanburg, SC/Spartanburg Day School) ESPN 2018 #10 player


Jaedon LeDee (Houston, TX/Kincaid School) ESPN 2018 #34 player



Timmy Allen (Mesa, AZ/Desert Ridge HS) ESPN 2018 #60 player 



4) Power Forwards

Marvin Bagley III (Phoenix, AZ/Sierra Canyon) ESPN 2018 #1 player


Jordan Brown (Roseville, CA/Woodcreek) ESPN 2018 #3 player


E.J. Montgomery (Fort Pierce, FL/Montverde Academy) 
ESPN 2018 #13 player


Shareef O'Neal (Los Angeles/Windward HS) ESPN 2018 #51 player


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Baron Davis and Crossroads HS Basketball (1993-1997) documentary

Published on Sep 2, 2015

This documentary follows the former NBA All-Star Baron Davis and his transition from living in the harsh neighborhood of South Central to attending the predominately upper-class private school, Crossroads. There he left a basketball legacy that will forever be remembered. 



Credits: Directed, Edited and Produced by Micah Stein, Ben Recht and Paxton Fuller

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Ringer: Be like Steph?

Sophia Chang

LaVar Ball and his three sons are trying to change basketball, one 30-foot shot at a time


by Danny Chau
Associate Editor
The Ringer
June 01 2016
Article Link 
Somuch has to go wrong for a Steph Curry 3-pointer to be deemed a bad shot.
If he’s pulling up from 30 feet, in transition, but there isn’t a defender reactive enough to get a hand up, it’s not a bad shot. If Curry circles around a defense and launches an off-kilter 3 at the first sign of daylight, but draws the eyes of four opponents in the process, it’s not a bad shot. If it breaks all the unwritten laws of respectability on a basketball court — but it goes in? Not a bad shot.
Great players are expected to evolve. In 2010, Kevin Durant developed a career-altering crossover; in 2012, LeBron James became a master of efficiency with an improved post game. But the NBA was not prepared for what Curry added to his arsenal this season.
He shot 16 3-pointers from 30-plus feet during the 2014–15 regular season; he nearly tripled his total on such attempts in 2015–16. As the world attempted to catch the Golden State Warriors’ comet by the tail, Curry’s expect-the-unexpected theatrics forced observers to create a new scale for grading his unprecedented shot selection.
Four hundred miles south of Oracle Arena sits the gym inside Chino Hills High School, the only place in the nation where more conventionally bad shots have been attempted this year. Chino Hills is the home of the Ball family — three brothers and their basketball-minded parents — who are intent on stretching the fabric of basketball as we know it, one 35-footer at a time. LaVar is the patriarch, and the mind behind the madness.
“My thing is, a bad shot is a shot you don’t practice,” LaVar Ball told me. “If you practice shooting from 30, 40 feet, that [can be] a good shot. It’s better to shoot a 30-footer with nobody in your face and go through your technique and your form, as opposed to shooting right on the 3-point line with a hand in your face.”
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, during the second regular-season meeting between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Curry actually did take a bad shot. It happened with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter; Curry strolled into the frontcourt with the ball in his hands and casually pulled up from right above where the Cavaliers’ enormous “C” logo at center court begins to curve. The ball barely grazed the front of the rim before it landed in the hands of Kyrie Irving. At that point, the Warriors were up 87–52. Curry was bored, so he chucked one just to do it.



During the first regular-season clash between the Warriors and Cavs, back on Christmas Day, ESPN analyst Mark Jackson uttered a statement that would come to encapsulate the fears of a bygone generation: “He’s hurting the game. … And what I mean by that is that I go into these high school gyms, I watch these kids, and the first thing they do is they run to the 3-point line. You are not Steph Curry.”
Maybe not, but what if there were a kid who was another Steph Curry? Four hours earlier on that same MLK DayLaVar Ball’s oldest son, Chino Hills senior point guard Lonzo Ball, took a shot from nearly the same spot on the floor in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball. Sometimes the present and future run parallel.


Like Curry, Ball was not beholden to the concept of acceptable range. Some may blanch at Ball’s hubris (the ESPNU announcer described this long miss as “not a good shot”). But ultimately, this is how the world spins forward.
“Modern mathematics tends to obliterate history,” Robin Hartshorne wrote in his 1977 textbook, Algebraic Geometry. “Each new school rewrites the foundations of its subject in its own language, which makes for fine logic but poor pedagogy.”
You could field quite a team made up of former players who derided the Warriors’ run at history this season: Oscar Robertson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, Tracy McGrady. That older-generation disdain for the new value system in basketball is an act of self-preservation in the face of watching something once so intimately familiar grow more and more foreign.
It’s been said that a fast-breaking, 3-point-shooting team couldn’t win a championship; the Warriors quieted the critics with last year’s Finals win, but a less concrete version of the same criticism remains embedded in the national discourse. Those older players could just as easily be talking about the Ball family. LaVar Ball hears their complaints, and brushes them aside.
“This is what I tell people [when asked] why we play so fast. We don’t think the game, we just play off of reaction,” LaVar told me. “When you hear a loud sound in the hood, you don’t say, ‘Was that a broken plate, a broken window, or a gunshot?’ You don’t think about it. You just take off running. And it’s simple, but people think it’s too simple. Everybody’s always telling me, since the boys were young, ‘Oh, that’s not going to work. They’re not going to let you do that.’ Well, OK. We’re going to do it anyway, and watch what happens.”
For much of basketball’s history, the key to winning games has come down to controlling the area around the basket, on both sides of the court. The advent of and later emphasis on the 3-point shot offered another way to look at the game. We know this; we’ve seen it unfold over the past 20 years. Now, the team that best takes advantage of the full dimensions of the court wins.
We are in the middle of basketball’s space race, and the Warriors are at the vanguard of these notions. Golden State has advanced to its second consecutive NBA Finals after a Western Conference finals Game 7 in which nearly half of the team’s made field goals came from behind the arc. While their turbulent playoffs have proved that the Warriors aren’t “light-years ahead,” as majority owner Joe Lacob has boasted, they do serve as an avatar for an idea whose time has come. But they aren’t the only ones.



The Chino Hills Huskies look like the future. In 35 games, they turned high school basketball contests into imaginariums filled with 35-foot-long bombs and full-court bullet passes. They are an unholy amalgam of the System offense that Paul Westhead spearheaded with his Loyola Marymount teams of the late ’80s and the deep-space exploration of the current Warriors. They have internalized the tenets of modern countercultural basketball — make use of the entire court on both offense and defense, maximize possessions by forcing opponents to play at unsustainable speeds, shoot as many 3s as possible.
Watching the Huskies in motion can seem like peering directly into an alternate timeline, where what had long been considered verboten in the sport is simply common sense. In 35 games, Chino Hills, the nation’s consensus no. 1, went undefeated and tied the California state record for most 100-point games, with 18. The team produced one of the greatest seasons of amateur basketball ever.
High schools across the country were rocked by the Ball brothers: Lonzo Ball, an incoming UCLA freshman and ESPN’s no. 4 senior in the nation; LiAngelo Ball, incoming senior and the Huskies’ leading scorer this year; and LaMelo Ball, a 14-year-old whom the family had bumped up a grade to fulfill LaVar’s dream for all three brothers to play one year of varsity basketball on the same team.
Together, the brothers stick together like magnets. Lonzo is the stoic, exceedingly selfless caretaker: At the 2016 McDonald’s All American Game, he tied the record for most assists in a game with 13, without scoring a single point. LiAngelo is the bully who benches 350: at a reported 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Gelo is a defensive end posing as a shooting guard — LaVar had experimented with him at the point, but quickly yanked him after realizing that LiAngelo would shoot the ball with impunity every time he crossed half court.
LaMelo is the id and, as LaVar put it, the family’s “hybrid” guard; his blazing Odell Beckham Jr.–inspired hair and penchant for drilling 30-footers despite appearing to lack the strength to even properly finish a layup have made him the most popular brother of the three.
They all consider themselves entertainers on the court as much as basketball players, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from their faces — a pause for a celebratory yawp after a made basket is a missed steal opportunity, or a split second not spent setting up a trap. Off the court, things are looser. For one thing, it seems like LiAngelo has inherited more than just his father’s titanic frame.

Word spread quickly about the team that Chino Hills had assembled. In a tournament game last June, LaMelo made his high school debut in the starting lineup as a 13-year-old. He scored 27 points. The team scored 98. High school sports reporters looking for a good story quickly realized they could be looking at the story. “It was kind of the perfect storm that was looming for Southern California basketball,” Eric Sondheimer, a Los Angeles Times writer who has covered high school athletics for 40 years, told me. “I wrote that it was going to be like the circus when everybody starts getting on the bandwagon. And sure enough …”
When calling in favors didn’t work, opposing league coaches paid for their own tickets to watch Chino Hills play in tournaments. Sondheimer would show up to games several hours ahead of time just to ensure himself a parking spot, though that didn’t always guarantee him a seat.
For an incomplete picture of Chino Hills’ dominance, consider this: Even if you were to strike out their most lopsided victory — an 89-point win in their first league game of last season — the Huskies’ total point differential would still be greater than the Warriors’ in the NBA. Golden State outscored its opponents by 882 points during the 2015–16 regular season; Chino Hills outscored its opponents by 994 in 47 fewer games.
All this came as no surprise to LaVar Ball. “I said it a long time ago,” he said. “I told them, ‘I guarantee, when my other son gets there, there is not a team in America that can beat us.’”
In addition to being the megaphone, LaVar is also the family’s basketball architect. He was a 6-foot-6, 270-pound tight end who spent several years on the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers practice squads in the mid-’90s. He married Tina Slatinsky, his college sweetheart, who played basketball at Cal State Los Angeles. Together, they coach Big Ballers VXT, the AAU team that served as a lab for the family’s playing style.
“We play faster than the Golden State Warriors. And my boys have been playing like this since they were little.” —LaVar Ball
Steve Baik ostensibly coached Chino Hills (he left the team at the end of the season), but the coach submitted to, and later espoused completely, the style of play that had been instilled by the Ball family. No sets, just immediate read-and-reaction. “It was something ingrained in them since when they were young,” Baik told The New York Times. “They’re just so good at doing it, we’ve just embraced it.”
On defense, the Huskies play a zone press scheme, physically hounding their opponents into traps. They gang rebound with their best athletes as LaMelo leaks out into the frontcourt. That’s how the magic starts. The secret to Chino Hills’ success last season was that there was no secret. On the court, Lonzo controls everything in his orbit. His signature move might be one of the most breathtaking plays in all of basketball: the one-handed full-court outlet pass.


The pass is an act of familial telepathy. Lonzo usually catches one of his brothers in stride for a layup, but on at least one occasion that I witnessed, he threw a full-length, crosscourt pass from the right side of the court all the way to LaMelo in the left corner on the opposite end. It’s a modern wonder: He throws the ball while he’s turning over his shoulder in midair, before he has a sight line to his brother’s exact location. It’s muscle memory (Lonzo’s been throwing outlets since he was a third-grader playing against eighth-grade teams) and muscles, period (despite being a wiry 6-foot-6 guard at 195 pounds, Lonzo bench-presses 270 pounds). The outlet is a cornerstone of the Ball brothers’ high-octane offense. “All you’re trying to do is get a good shot,” LaVar said. “I can’t help it if we get it in the first two or three seconds. Because you’re going to pass the ball around six or seven times and get the same shot we got in the corner off the first pass.”

The Ball brothers are encouraged to fire away from deep, even after misses. They use conventional basketball wisdom as a weapon against their opponents. “Everyone usually plays defense right at the 3-point line, because that’s what you’re taught,” LaVar said. “But we use more of the court.” By forcing defenses to acknowledge the potency of every inch of the floor, you take control of your opponent. It’s easier to capitulate to a team like Chino Hills than it is to unlearn years of foundational knowledge. It’s how the Warriors confounded the league all season — the NBA had to learn how to prevent shots that, before, never had to be guarded in the first place.
For all their similarities, LaVar scoffs at the suggestion of a Warriors influence on his kids. “We play faster than the Golden State Warriors,” he said. “And my boys have been playing like this since they were little.”
But what about those 40-footers?
“I got [LaMelo] taking those since he was 7 years old,” LaVar said. “I got all my boys shooting from damn near half court.”
It’s a fair question, though. Curry’s superstar ascension is inextricable from the impossible plays he conjures, despite his suboptimal frame. With the advent of League Pass and the rise of the social media highlight, we don’t have to wait years to see the influence of a player on the next generation of athletes. We have to wait only days.
LaMelo, especially, is a dead ringer for Curry, whether he’s conscious of it or not. In a season full of dazzling plays, he never looked more like the NBA’s back-to-back MVP than he did in the third quarter of a February game against perennial California powerhouse Mater Dei.
In one sequence, Melo brought the ball up the floor and entered a truncated, Steph-like dribbling suite. He motioned left and jetted toward the paint off a high screen from Chino Hills center Onyeka Okongwu, drawing the eyes of all five Mater Dei defenders. Lonzo, stationed at the right corner, instinctively darted along the baseline past his ball-watching defender. Melo lofted the ball unconscionably high — clearing the height of the backboard — and drifted out of bounds, watching his eight-second masterpiece unfold. The ball descended on the right side of the rim, directly into the clutches of a skyward Lonzo. Okongwu — who might wind up being better than all three Ball brothers — waltzed into the lane undeterred, his hands up expecting the ball. He slowly dropped them only after he looked in front of him to realize his airborne teammate had already sealed the deal.
It would’ve been a perfectly executed 1–5 pick-and-roll by any other team, but the no. 1 team in the country didn’t reach such heights by playing conventionally. A minute later, Melo — 5-foot-10 and maybe 120 pounds — swished a straightaway 3 with his feet touching the logo at center court.
LaVar insists that LaMelo will be the best of the three, and largely credits his having to play catch-up with his older brothers to fulfill the family dream.
“[LaMelo] never played against kids his own age,” LaVar said. “That’s why it’s so easy for him in high school. He’s been playing 17U since he was 11 years old. I had him playing against eighth-graders when he was 6 and 7. It’s nothing new to him. He’s always seen people’s stomachs. He ain’t never been face-to-face with nobody.”
LaMelo, of course, is still growing. At 14, he is taller than either Lonzo or LiAngelo was at the same age. He might have a few growth spurts left in him. If he is the one to push the high school game in an exciting, unknowable direction, there’s a chance it won’t be as a Steph Curry simulacrum, but something else entirely. Three years is a long time for a teen.
AP Images




















Last year, Bo Kimble, the leading scorer for the 1989–90 Loyola Marymount team that is widely regarded as the greatest offense in college basketball history, wrote a plea to college basketball: The game is facing an offensive crisis; it’s time to speed up.
In 2015, college offensive productivity had cratered, reaching a lull not seen since the 1950s. It rebounded this past season, in part thanks to a greater emphasis on the 3-pointer permeating the entire NCAA. But Kimble was advocating for something more radical than simply shooting 3s. Thirty-seven percent of the Houston Rockets’ field goal attempts this season came from behind the arc, the highest rate in the NBA; there were 132 Division I teams that matched or surpassed that figure. Not every offense built around 3-point shooting is an effective one.
Kimble played on a 1989–90 LMU team that averaged 122.4 points per 40 minutes — only a tick higher than the 122 points per 40 Chino Hills put up in its own historic season. He called for the college game to be saved. That savior might just be 18-year-old Lonzo Ball, who just so happens to be Kimble’s spiritual successor.
This fall, the Lonzo Ball experiment will begin at UCLA. A Bruins team that ranked 70th in the nation in pace and 331st in 3-point attempt rate this past season will feature an uptempo savant with limitless range — a system unto himself. Lonzo will step foot in Pauley Pavilion as the most interesting freshman in the country. There is no telling how his unorthodox basketball education will affect him in the NCAA. It’s a coach’s game at the college level. As a UCLA point guard, he’ll no longer be playing to satisfy the impulses of his father — impulses that would drive nearly any micromanaging college coach insane. Will Bruins coach Steve Alford try to fit his star recruit in a box?
“Lonzo will be used the exact same way he’s used now,” LaVar said. “That’s what’s going to shock everybody. He’s going to change the whole dynamic of the team over there. Everybody has to adjust to him. Because Alford knows I’m not giving him a player to change. He’s been watching my boys for a long time. He knows exactly what they do.”
(We attempted to contact Alford through UCLA athletic communications on Thursday, but he was not available by the time of publication.)
If LaVar sounds like he’s got a stake in the future of UCLA basketball, it’s because he’s invested a lot in the program. All three Ball brothers are committed to the Bruins, which means, for at least the next four seasons, LaVar Ball will loom as a Svengali figure in Westwood. His sons are enrolling in college, and so are his ideas. Is the NCAA ready for such an infusion of pace so soon?
“The NCAA is ready for it; it’s whether the team’s ready for it,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said in an interview. “That’s a [different] tempo that requires complete buy-in, not only from the players, but from the coach, too.”
Fraschilla runs Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp for the top guard recruits in the nation at the end of June in Alameda, where Lonzo has signed up as a camp counselor.
“You can’t be halfway in or halfway out in that kind of system, because it is so radically different,” Fraschilla said. “If you want to play that way, every part of your practice has to be designed to play at that pace. And it requires a lot of patience from the coach, because it is going to look ugly before it looks good.”
The university just secured what appears to be the most lucrative apparel deal in NCAA history, signing with Under Armour for $280 million over 15 years. With the infusion of sponsorship money and a new style of play, it’s hard not to see a bright future for the Bruins in the national spotlight. There will probably be some sort of moral panic the first time Lonzo takes an open 35-footer on live television — but the Balls will be fine with it, so long as you don’t chalk it up to any kind of ripple effect from up in the Bay Area.
“This ain’t no Steph Curry,” LaVar insists. “This is the Ball boys — the new breed.”

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016-17 Season: Non-Conference Schedule Out

UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (photo by Scott Chandler)
UCLA Athletics

UCLA Announces Non-Conference Schedule
By: UCLA Athletics
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s basketball team will play 13 non-conference games this upcoming season, highlighted by a meeting at Kentucky on Dec. 3 and a home game versus Michigan on Dec. 10.
The Bruins’ non-conference schedule features eight games in Pauley Pavilion, three contests in Orange County as part of the 2016 Wooden Legacy (Nov. 24, 25, 27), one game at Kentucky and a CBS Sports Classic contest against Ohio State in Las Vegas on Dec. 17.
“We’re confident that this non-conference schedule is not only going to go a long way towards helping our team prepare for Pac-12 play, but ultimately it’s going to pay dividends for us in March,” UCLA head coachSteve Alford said. “Over the last three years, we’ve upgraded our program’s non-conference schedule, and this year is no exception. Having hosted non-conference games against Gonzaga and Kentucky at Pauley Pavilion in each of the past two seasons, being able to add Michigan, a marquee Big Ten opponent, to the home schedule is another great win for our fans.”
“In addition to a number of matchups with very good local teams,” Alford continued, “our guys are also excited about making our first-ever trip to Kentucky’s Rupp Arena as well as heading back out to Las Vegas to face a very talented Ohio State team. We know we have a lot of work to do between now and that first game against Pacific, but our players can’t wait to get back on the floor for what promises to be a very exciting season of UCLA basketball.”
UCLA’s 13-game non-conference schedule has the potential to include as many as eight teams that competed in the postseason in March 2016. The Bruins’ complete schedule, including all 18 Pac-12 Conference games, will not be finalized until later this summer.
UCLA will begin its regular season against Pacific on Friday, Nov. 11. As part of the Wooden Legacy, the Bruins will host CSUN on Nov. 13. Prior to three more Wooden Legacy games – all of which are in Orange County – UCLA will welcome San Diego on Nov. 17 and Long Beach State on Nov. 20 to Pauley Pavilion.
This season’s Wooden Legacy field includes CSUN, Dayton, Nebraska, New Mexico, Portland, Texas A&M, UCLA and Virginia Tech. The Bruins will play on Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day) and Friday, Nov. 25 at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Gym before closing the tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Following the Wooden Legacy, the Bruins will host UC Riverside on Nov. 30 before making their first-ever appearance at Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky on Dec. 3. After returning home for fall quarter final exams, the Bruins will host Michigan on Dec. 10 and UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 14.
UCLA will play Ohio State in Las Vegas on Dec. 17 as part of the annual CBS Sports Classic before concluding its non-conference schedule in Pauley Pavilion against Western Michigan on Dec. 21.
Season ticket packages are on sale now and start at just $199. Secure your seat by placing a $99 per seat deposit today and receive an exclusive invitation to hand-pick your location at UCLA’s select-a-seat event in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, June 4. To place a deposit, please call (310) 206-5991 or visituclabruins.com/basketballtickets.
UCLA’s Non-Conference Schedule
DateOpponentVenue
Nov. 11PacificPauley Pavilion
Nov. 13CSUNPauley Pavilion
Nov. 17San DiegoPauley Pavilion
Nov. 20Long Beach StatePauley Pavilion
Nov. 24Wooden LegacyFullerton, Calif. (Cal State Fullerton)
Nov. 25Wooden LegacyFullerton, Calif. (Cal State Fullerton)
Nov. 27Wooden LegacyAnaheim, Calif. (Honda Center)
Nov. 30UC RiversidePauley Pavilion
Dec. 3at KentuckyLexington, Ky.
Dec. 10MichiganPauley Pavilion
Dec. 14UC Santa BarbaraPauley Pavilion
Dec. 17vs. Ohio StateLas Vegas, Nev.
Dec. 21Western MichiganPauley Pavilion

Please note: Wooden Legacy matchups have not been finalized (other competing teams include CSUN, Dayton, Nebraska, New Mexico, Portland, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SLAM: In The Wings

Golden State first-round pick Kevon Looney tells us what it’s been like to be a rookie on the bench (and in the D-League) as the Dubs have chased history. (Photo: Getty Images)


By Adam Figman
SLAM Magazine
April 11, 2016
Article Link 

UCLA’s Kevon Looney had been projected to be selected in the middle of 2015’s NBA Draft, but due to rumors that swirled around regarding an injury to his right hip, he fell to No. 30, where he was scooped up by the Golden State Warriors. He underwent surgery on the hip in August, and after a few months of rehab, he was cleared to play for the Warriors in late January, spending the remainder of the 2015-16 regular season splitting time between the very end of the Dubs’ bench and as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s D-League team.
Below, Looney explains what it’s been like to watch (and occasionally participate in) the team’s historic run, and how the experience has and will continue to affect his career.
“Draft night was a crazy night. It was all these dreams coming true. I didn’t think I was gonna [get drafted by Golden State], so when I went there, I knew it was gonna be a great fit for me, because I knew I might have to get surgery. So I knew when I came to a team like this, I was gonna have a chance to really develop, to get my body right before I even get on the court. It was really a perfect situation for me. I remember Klay [Thompson], he texted me [that night], told me, ‘Make sure you rest, it’s gonna be a long season. This is where it’s gonna start.’

Kevon on 2015 NBA Draft Night


Kevon's Press Conference following 2015 NBA Draft

“Going through the injury process was frustrating because the guys made me feel part of the team, but I really didn’t feel comfortable with the guys because they’re a little older than me and they’ve been playing together, and I couldn’t really play. I didn’t really feel confident talking about basketball with them because they’re champions—they know a lot about basketball. I didn’t really feel as comfortable because I wasn’t playing. But the guys made me feel good and accepted me, so it made it kinda easy. But it was frustrating, to go there and watch. It was really frustrating.
“The beginning of the season when we started 24-0, it was like, this is not normal. I didn’t know how it felt to lose in the beginning. In the preseason, guys were good, we lost a couple of games. But then when the season started, a whole other light just went off. I would say when I watched Steph go for 50 earlier in the year against New Orleans, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is crazy. You don’t see this every day.’
“Since I’m the only rookie, they all kinda take to me. I talk to Andre [Iguodala] a lot because when I’m on the bench, he’s on the bench with me sometimes. Shaun [Livingston] had an injury, so I talk to Shaun, he knows how I feel. Then Draymond [Green], he plays my position—he always takes me under his wing, makes sure I feel comfortable with the team. He’s the leader so he makes sure everyone’s talking and having fun. All the veterans have been great for me.
“My first game, when I first suited up [January 27 vs. the Mavs—Ed.], I didn’t expect to play until maybe the end of the game if we blew them out. Draymond got in foul trouble and they just threw me in in the second quarter. I hadn’t even played in six months. I felt a little lost. It was really unexpected and I hadn’t played—to that point, I hadn’t practiced with the team really. I had a couple games in the D-League. I never played with Steph Curry or Klay or them guys. When I got out there, I was kinda lost as to where to be. Klay told me, ‘When in doubt, just go set a screen and get out the way.’ I just followed that and it worked for me.

Kevon's first NBA points

“Sometimes I don’t know if I’m gonna be active or not active, or if I’m gonna be playing in the D-League or with the real team. I gotta stay ready. I gotta do a lot more extra work to make sure I’m in game shape because I’m not playing really any minutes. So I gotta do a lot of conditioning. You gotta really take everything like you’re gonna play 40 minutes. Do your workout, stay focused. At any moment you have a chance to get in the game. If someone gets in foul trouble or somebody tweaks an ankle, you gotta be ready when they call your number.
“I get texts all the time, like, ‘What’s the secret? What is Steph doing?’ Sometimes I just text my brothers in our group chat, I’ll text them like, ‘Did y’all see the game? This guy’s amazing, man.’ I can’t believe what he’s doing. People ask me all the time. I get a lot of texts and calls and everyone wants to know the secret.
“Everywhere we go, the fans are waiting: waiting to watch warmups, to watch you do layup lines, do your pre-game routine. When we go to other cities, everyone’s got on Steph Curry jerseys. It’s just different. There’s nothing like this. I’ve never been on a team where at any moment, you never feel like you’re gonna lose a game. When guys come out flat, we could be down 20, but you always feel like, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna win this game.’ And they always figure out a way to do it.

“This is the best thing for me. I needed a lot of work to develop my body and my game, and what better place than with the champions? The older guys are really teaching me about nutrition and taking care of your body. Andre has been in the League 13 years and he’s still playing great, so I listen to him about taking care of your body and getting better. It’s really the perfect experience for me. I have a chance to win a championship my first year—a lot of guys don’t get a chance for their whole careers. So I’m really taking this opportunity and getting better.”

Kevon Summer League 2015 highlights


Kevon UCLA highlights
Adam Figman is the Senior Editor of SLAM Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @afigman.
Photo via Getty Images