New UCLA coach Steve Alford has gone back to his Indiana roots by landing No. 41 senior Trevon Bluiett (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor). Here's a breakdown of how and why the shooting guard landed with the Bruins.
Why he committed: "Everything felt right about UCLA," Bluiett said. "Coach Alford has a plan for me and made me feel very comfortable. The support they give their program -- from academics to strength and conditioning -- it's all set up for me to be successful."
Perhaps the biggest factor was UCLA assistant Ed Shilling, who was Bluiett's high school coach for three years at Park Tudor. "Coach Shilling is a big reason why I chose UCLA. He is a mentor to me," Bluiett said. "I have known him since the sixth grade and have played for him since the ninth grade. Coach Shilling always has the right intentions and I trust him."
Together, they went 72-7 and won two 2A state championships, with Bluiett earning MVP honors both times.
What he brings: Plenty of scoring. Bluiett averaged 28 points per game as a junior. In the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, he finished in the top 10 in scoring and 3-point shooting. He is a difference-maker because of his shooting beyond the arc. He can shoot it off screens or his teammates' dribble penetration, and can do it equally well off the dribble or a catch-and-shoot pass. Bluiett can go into the midrange and knock down a jumper from a wide pin-down with comfort and confidence, and will use the shot fake when needed. His frame will also bring him into the paint from time to time for a quick post-up when he has a mismatch.
How he fits: Alford would prefer to play fast. His teams over the years have averaged in the low 70s. Bluiett is everything Alford looks for in a shooting guard, with size, range and a high basketball IQ. Alford will run as much as possible, which is where Bluiett can be a major threat before the defense gets organized. In the half court, look for UCLA to run a motion offense with some triangle action. Bluiett can play with fellow sharpshooter Jordan Adams or replace him, depending on how Adams and UCLA do this year. Having Bluiett can put your mind at ease as a coach because you know he can really shoot it and score.
Who he reminds us of: A poor man's Paul Pierce. Strong, slow, with great size to see over defenders and athletic enough when he needs to be. Putting defenders on his hip making power drives but making a living with a cleverness to create fouls while also keeping a defender off-balance with ball and shot fakes. With the shot clock or game clock winding down, Bluiett just needs a little time and space to connect on his long-range jumper.
How the class is shaping up: Bluiett was the first recruit for UCLA under Alford and, with a handful of scholarships available, look for the Bruins to turn up their pursuit of No. 28 senior Quentin Snider, a point guard who was in for his official visit to UCLA this weekend. If that happens, the Bruins will be strong and talented in the backcourt for the future. Justise Winslow is also a prime target for the Bruins, who are trying to reestablish their program in the Pac-12. Bluiett gets them off to a fantastic start.