Saturday, April 29, 2017

Recruiting 2017: Chris Smith signs NLI

Video highlights (Thanks to the corresponding You Tube posters)

UCLA Basketball signs Chris Smith to NLI


Chris Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward, will enroll at UCLA as a freshman this summer.

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men's basketball program has received a signed National Letter of Intent from Chris Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward who starred last season at Huntington Prep in Huntington, W. Va., it was announced today by head coach Steve Alford.

Smith, who hails from Fort Worth, Texas, will enroll at UCLA this summer and begin his freshman season in Westwood this fall.

"We're really excited to welcome Chris to our program," UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. "He's a versatile player with great length who can play on the wing and excel as a power forward. He has shown that he can handle, pass and shoot the ball, which fits perfectly to our style. Chris has an opportunity to make an impact from the start, and we're looking forward to having him here this summer."

The Bruins have added Smith to an incoming class that has already been rated No. 2, nationally, by, and Smith has been ranked as a four-star and top-100 recruit in his class by

Smith has become the sixth high school player in this class to sign with the Bruins, set to enroll at UCLA for the 2017-18 school year. He joins Kris Wilkes, from Indianapolis, Ind., and a group of four players from southern California in the Bruins' incoming class – Li'Angelo Ball, Jaylen Hands, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley.

More on Chris Smith:

2017 Recruiting: Chris Smith (6-8, 190 Forward, Huntington, WV) commits to UCLA

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pros & Cons Of Playing Overseas – Q&A With Ryan Hollins

apr 21, 2017 | bj-and-bucher podcast | post LINK

Last time we checked in with Ryan Hollins, who is playing overseas after 10 seasons in the NBA, he had just undergone a tumultuous turn of life events. Within 24 hours he’d dealt with the death of a dear uncle and surrogate father as well as the birth of a daughter, Eve. Shortly thereafter, his contract was terminated by Spain’s Gran Canaria team and he signed with Italy’s Auxilium Torino in the Serie A league. Here he explains how life and work have changed.

NBA Center
What was the first thing that struck you as different about your team in Italy vs. your team in Spain?
Fresh into the locker room I was struck that not only did we have five other Americans but they were guys I knew: DJ White, a six-year pro; Virginia Tech’s Deron Washington, who was easily the most exciting college player of my era; Georgetown star Chris Wright; Jamil Wilson of Marquette; and Tyler Harvey, a fellow LA product. The guys were laughing and joking playing Uno in the locker room when I showed up. English was the primary language spoken, even by my Italian teammates. In Spain, I actually didn’t mind everyone speaking Spanish because I took it as a challenge to learn the language, but in Italy even our coach, Francesco “Frank” Vitucci, speaks to us in English. My first few days he was very apologetic that his English wasn’t up to par but he had no idea — it was music to my ears. 
How does your role with Auxilium Torino compare to the one with Gran Canaria?
In Spain, the players pick up full court and essentially split all minutes to manage fatigue. In Italy, the top players dominate the minutes. My first game in Italy I played about 30 minutes; in Spain, I may have had a season high of 12 in one game. I’m blessed to be an intricate part of Torino. I’m also glad that I kept up my conditioning and work ethic for moments like these. 
Pictured: Ryan and Auxilium teammates
How does the level of play compare? What is the style of play?
The game is very technical in Spain; it’s a game of chess between the coaches. From the full court press, to a specific trap to unorthodox rotations — you could see just about anything. In Italy, due to the heavy minutes, the players have more freedom to decide the game. I don’t know if I can say this is the most physical basketball I’ve seen, but the referees allow the game to turn into street ball here, where anything goes. In three games I’ve seen elbows, pushes, grabs and opportunistic traveling.
Compare your European coaches to the ones you’ve had in the NBA.
Even if I wanted to compare the coaches that I have now to those I had in the NBA, there’s not a chance I could from a strategic standpoint. What I can do is give you a glimpse into their personalities. Luis Casimiro, Gran Canaria’s coach, is full of passion and doesn’t cut corners, even in practice. Yet off the court he’s a compassionate friend. I’ll never forget the time he gave me a ride home. It was a conversation for the ages between Luis’s limited English and my limited Spanish, but I throughly enjoyed every moment of it.
Pictured: Ryan Hollins with Auxilium Torino fans
Victor Garcia, one of Casimiro’s assistant coaches, is my guy. He’s always cool, but in the heat of the game he wouldn’t mind jumping on the floor to celebrate a huge play from the team. Gran Canaria’s other assistant coach, Israel Gonzalez, is also one of my favorites. I thought of him as the “Game Master.” Israel has the intelligence to be a doctor or a lawyer but chose to follow his passion on the court. He doesn’t have the greatest English, but he knows enough to hit you with a frequent hilarious/sarcastic punchline (when least expected).
Coach Frank of Turino is cool, calm and collected; you can’t find wrong in Frank. A family man who has treated me with nothing but respect since I walked through the door. Now, funny story, Frank has been around for a while. I remember Chris Jent, who was one of my NBA assistant coaches with two different teams (CLE, SAC) and is now at Ohio State, telling me how he loved his Italian experience years ago. Come to find out Frank was CJ’s coach! He members his two-year old son at the time, who I knew to be a teenager, and in real time is a grown man. Somehow I felt really young and really old at the same moment. 
What former NBA players have you run across or competed with/against?
Italy is full of former NBA players. In my first game, I played against both my college rival and Pistons’ draft pick, Alex Aker, and my former teammate, Juwaun Johnson. In our last game I went up against another former teammate from Memphis, Yakhouba Diawara, and Linton Johnson, who I played with in Charlotte. 
What is it like playing in Italy with your family — and new-born daughter — still living in the Canary Islands?
Knowing that my family isn’t here (and that I’m missing moments with Eve that I’ll never get back) absolutely makes me sick. Not being with my family will never settle right with me, and is one of those things where I have to just continue to focus on the greater good. Thank goodness for Face Time and these fancy iPhone cameras. My wife has become a professional photographer and editor in her spare time, lol. 
Pictured: Ryan and Eve
You’ve joined NBA teams in mid-season. How did that experience prepare you for doing it overseas?
Joining the team mid-season is just part of professional sports (if you stay around long enough, it’s going to happen, either by trade or free-agent signing). For me the focus is being the best me that I can be. One huge perk of coming in late means that you’re needed (and there isn’t anyone who has your unique skill set). Being able to pick up plays is a must, and for those kids who have all the game in the world but can’t remember a play…. there’s a rude awakening ahead. My thought process is to gain immediate trust from my coach in opening up his playbook.
Culturally, what has been the best part of living and playing in Italy? What has been the worst?
Culturally: I immediately noticed the acceptance of English. Turin feels a lot like America to me. One of our sponsors is Fiat, and as an American you hear Fiat and immediately wonder how a 7 footer is going to fit in one comfortably. To my surprise, Fiat not only has a sizable car, my little Fiat has some kick to it, lol. I love the streets, you have two huge lanes through the whole city one to park on, and another for through traffic. Nice enough to make me wonder if this could cure the traffic in LA (then I remembered that the 405 and 101 is just one huge intersection) and that we just have too many cars.
Pictured: The goodness on Ryan’s plate
I can find good food anywhere, and I mean anywhere!!! For lunch and dinner I’ve been playing Russian roulette with Trip Advisor. For a guy who loves Italian food, I’m in heaven right now. I might eat pasta, pizza, and a tiramisu twice a day. When I say pizza I’m not talking greasy takeout but the kind you eat with a knife and fork. And even at the nicest restaurants you walk to the front to pay your tab; I learned this the hard way, by sitting for about 30 extra minutes after a meal. Italy also has to be one of the most dog-friendly places in the world. Not only have I seen dogs exotic enough to make you take a second glance but they are welcomed everywhere. I see dogs on the streets, dogs in the malls, even dogs in the restaurants. Pretty cool. One setback to the big city is not having a parking spot or wifi in my apt. So far I’ve been bingeing “Prison Break” on a 2g signal. Hunting for a parking spot takes around 10 minutes when I get home. This is also my first time living without a dryer, so imagine the mess I’m making. True confession: I haven’t done laundry since college, lol.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

UCLA lands pledge from 2018 guard David Singleton

apr 20, 2017 | evan daniels & Josh gershon | | post LINK

2018 guard David Singleton just verbally committed to Steve Alford, UCLA.

2018 guard David Singleton verbally committed to UCLA on Thursday, he announced. 
Singleton, a four-star recruit out of Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery, picked the Bruins over interest from a host of west coast schools, including Gonzaga, UNLV, Arizona among others. 
"I liked the style of play and I liked the fact I'll be able to stay home," Singleton told Scout. "I felt like family every time I visited their school and and I felt this will be the best situation for me."
Singleton picked up an offer from UCLA on Tuesday and committed less than 48 hours later, choosing to stay at home in Los Angeles.
"Being at home for school definitely made a big impact on my decision," Singleton said.
The UCLA campus and staff were also impressive to Singleton.

"The staff really values you as a player and a person," he said. "I also like how the campus is high in both basketball and academics."
The 6-foot-4 guard is ranked No. 58 overall and as the No. 10 shooting guard in the 2018 class.
"David Singleton is one of the top scorers on the West Coast," Scout analyst Josh Gershon said. "He's a 6-4 shooting guard who can fill it up from all three levels."
"One of the best aspects of Singleton's game is his consistency; he gets his points every time out and usually at an efficient rate," Gershon added. "Not just a scorer, Singleton also can handle and pass it, while he changes speeds well and can play in either the half court or transition."
Fresh off landing the No. 2 recruiting class in 2017, Singleton is the first commitment of the 2018 class.  

UCLA promotes Tyus Edney to fill coaching staff vacancy

Former UCLA point guard Tyus Edney was promoted to assistant coach for the Bruins. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The biggest cheers for UCLA’s basketball coaching staff during pregame introductions next season may very well be for an assistant.
Former Bruins star Tyus Edney has been promoted from his role as director of operations to fill the vacancy created by the departure of assistant coach Ed Schilling, who left to join Archie Miller’s new staff at Indiana. Edney’s mad full-court dash with 4.8 seconds left for a buzzer-beating layup against Missouri in the 1995 NCAA tournament remains one of the most iconic plays in school history. UCLA went on to win the national title that year.
“I’m appreciative of the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with the program that has given me so much,” Edney said in a statement released by the school. “I will do everything that I can to help us perform at the highest level.”
Edney, 44, had served as director of operations for seven seasons after the end of a playing career that included parts of four seasons in the NBA and more than a decade competing internationally.
“He will be a tremendous asset to our program as an assistant coach,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a statement, “and we’re very confident that he’s going to significantly impact our team in every aspect.”
Several Bruins players said last season they considered Edney an inspiration and often sought him out for advice. Point guard Lonzo Ball even re-created Edney’s buzzer-beating play for a video posted on Twitter.
“Any time you have somebody this close to your program that won a national championship,” shooting guard Bryce Alford said during the season, “you’ve got to pick his brain.”
Kory Barnett, who had served as the program’s director of player development and scouting, will replace Edney as the director of operations.

UCLA's Ike Anigbogu picks an agent and is headed for the NBA draft


Ike Anigbogu presumably wasn’t trying to be ironic when he wore a UCLA basketball shirt in a photo that was posted on Twitter on Thursday. The Bruins center smiled as he stood next to NBA agent Jason Glushon, whose agency, Glushon Sports Management, welcomed Anigbogu into its clientele with the tweet, effectively ending his career as a Bruin.

Anigbogu becomes the third UCLA freshman to have hired an agent ahead of the NBA draft, joining Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf. Glushon also represents New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, a former Bruin.
While Ball and Leaf are widely projected as first-round selections, there is no such consensus on where Anigbogu could be taken. One mock draft board predicts he will be go No. 18 overall, but another foresees him going No. 37, which would be early in the second round.
The 6-foot-10 Anigbogu is largely coveted because of his physical presence and potential as an elite defender. His modest averages of 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13 minutes per game last season are not representative of his massive upside.
UCLA Coach Steve Alford seemed to acknowledge that Anigbogu would be leaving even before he hired an agent, saying earlier this month that “he certainly has my support in making the jump to the NBA. We’re really going to miss him.”
The Bruins are still waiting to find out whether junior center Thomas Welsh and sophomore guard Aaron Holiday will return next season after having declared for the draft without hiring an agent. They have until May 24 to withdraw from draft consideration.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Alford, Hamilton Set for Portsmouth Invitational 2017

Bryce will be playing for Sales System, Isaac for Roger Brown's Restaurant :-) 

Alford and Hamilton started in 104 games for UCLA over the past three seasons.

Story Links

LOS ANGELES – UCLA senior guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will compete in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT) at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va., from April 12-15.
For 65 consecutive years, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has invited 64 of the nation's top college basketball seniors to participate in a four-day, 12-game tournament played in front of NBA scouts.
Complete rosters for this season's tournament were announced April 10. The tournament's schedule and rosters can be viewed by visiting
Alford averaged 15.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, starting all 36 contests, for the Bruins during his senior season. He set the school's single-season record for most three-pointers made (116) and ranked second in the Pac-12 in three-point percentage (43.0).
Hamilton registered 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a senior, starting all 36 contests alongside Alford. Hamilton and Alford each scored in double figures in 28 of the team's 36 games.
In fact, Alford and Hamilton have started in each of the Bruins' last 104 games – every game the previous three seasons.
Alford concluded his collegiate career ranking No. 5 on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,922 career points. In addition, he set the school's career record for most made three-pointers (326). Alford capped his UCLA career ranking No. 6 on the all-time assist list (537) and No. 7 in career free throw percentage (.825).
Hamilton finished his collegiate career with 1,426 points in three seasons, currently ranking No. 25 on the school's all-time scoring list.
Alford and Hamilton each tied the school's single-game record for most made three-point field goals. Alford shot 9 for 14 from three-point range in a win at Colorado (Jan. 12, 2017), while Hamilton made 9 of 14 three-pointers in the Bruins' home victory over Arizona State the following week (Jan. 19, 2017).
The duo of senior guards helped UCLA post a 31-5 overall record in 2016-17, including a 15-3 mark in Pac-12 play. The Bruins advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the third time in four seasons after having won a school record-tying 28 regular-season games.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LaMelo Ball vs Jaylen Hands! Battle of Future UCLA Point Guards at The Battlezone!

from Ballislife West 

Catching up with Jaylen Hands

2017 videos on the San Diego native. Thanks to the original posters on You Tube!!!

Thomas Welsh. Stuff you can do with math.

Thomas Welsh from Pac-12 Networks
"Watch UCLA basketball center and Economics major Thomas Welsh explain how math is a universal language that helps him excel on and off the court."

UCLA's Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will declare for NBA draft without hiring agents

Thomas Welsh's Pick-n-pop from 

Aaron Holiday from ReBorn HD Highlights
UCLA’s basketball team, already in flux, is facing a few more potential departures.
Junior center Thomas Welsh and sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday are both declaring for the NBA draft, the school confirmed. Neither player is planning to hire an agent, thereby preserving their ability to return to college next season. They have until May 24 to withdraw their names from draft consideration.
“Both Thomas and Aaron are doing their due diligence in getting feedback from the NBA to determine what’s in the best interest for their basketball futures,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said Monday. “Each of these young men come from strong families with great support networks, and I want them to know that we will fully support their decisions, whichever way they go.”
The departures of Welsh and Holiday would be a crushing blow to a team already facing the loss of freshmen Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu. Ball and Leaf have said they would hire agents, effectively ending their UCLA careers, and Anigbogu said he would not hire an agent in case he wanted to return.
Should all five players leave in addition to seniors Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton, the Bruins would be losing seven of their top eight players as well as 95.52% of their scoring from last season. That would leave reserve forward Gyorgy Goloman, who averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game last season, as the most experienced returning player.
Two NBA scouts who spoke with The Times said they thought both Welsh and Holiday should return to UCLA next season to boost their draft stock. The scouts spoke anonymously because their teams had not authorized them to publicly discuss college players. Welsh faces questions about his defense, and Holiday has not shown how he would fare as a starter since his freshman season.
“I think people want to see what he’s like when he maybe runs the team again,” one NBA scout said of Holiday. “I think a year going back might be good for him to take over that point guard spot and run it full time.”
Welsh averaged 10.8 points and a team-leading 8.7 rebounds per game last season while blocking a team-leading 43 shots. Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists while bringing an infusion of defense off the bench as the sixth man.

Neither Welsh nor Holiday is listed on most mock draft boards, but one scout said they would both have a chance to make an NBA team. Holiday has NBA pedigree because his brother Jrue plays for the New Orleans Pelicans and his brother Justin plays for the New York Knicks.
“Those guys find a way through the backdoor to get on a roster whether through a tryout or a late second-round pick,” the scout said of Welsh and Aaron Holiday, “but rarely are they guys that you’re talking about really high up.”
UCLA will plug most of its holes with a six-man recruiting class ranked No. 2 nationally. Guard Prince Ali and forward Alex Olesinski will also return after redshirting last season because of injuries. But the loss of so much experience would make the Bruins almost exclusively dependent on freshmen.
Alford told The Times last week that he was hoping Welsh and Holiday would return to guide the newcomers.
“Well, there’s no question because it’s their team,” Alford said of the upperclassmen. “Aaron’s had two really good years under his belt, Tom three really good years under his belt, so just like Isaac and Bryce and their leadership this year, that would be turned over to Aaron and Tom — Tom leading the frontcourt guys and Aaron leading the backcourt guys, so those are two obviously very important big pieces to what we’re trying to build for next year.”

UCLA's Ike Anigbogu declares for the NBA draft. Will not hire agent.

UCLA center Ike Anigbogu has declared for the NBA draft, he announced Wednesday on Twitter, but Anigbogu has not hired an agent, meaning he will retain the option of returning to the team.
Anigbogu’s announcement means that all three Bruins freshmen have declared for the draft, though guard Lonzo Ball and forward T.J. Leaf said they would hire agents, making them ineligible to return. College players who declare for the draft but do not hire an agent can withdraw their names until May 24.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to make that transition to the next level,” Anigbogu said. “I’m especially grateful to UCLA’s entire coaching staff for everything they’ve done for me.”

The 6-foot-10 Anigbogu could be drafted as high as the latter half of the first round, according to two NBA executives who spoke with The Times. Anigbogu averaged a modest 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per game but is widely coveted because of his athleticism and potential as an elite defender.

“Ike quickly made a huge impact within our program and will be a tremendous addition to any team at the next level,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by the school. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, and he certainly has my support in making the jump to the NBA. We’re really going to miss him, his sense of humor and that seemingly shy smile that hides how fiery of a competitor he is.
“He’s worked very hard both on the court and in the classroom while at UCLA and has made tremendous strides. Ike is a terrific young man with limitless potential at the professional level, and I cannot wait to watch him continue to grow as a player and a person in the years to come.”

Monday, April 3, 2017

T.J. says goodbye.

T.J. on Twitter link

Thanks, Good luck, God bless, T.J.!!! Go, Bruins!!!