Kevon Looney, the No. 11 player in the ESPN 100, picked UCLA on Thursday over Duke, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Here’s a look at why he picked the Bruins and how the 6-foot-8, 190-pound power forward fits in with new coach Steve Alford.
Why he committed: Looney committed to the Bruins for reasons on and off the court.
“I love the campus," he said. "It was the most beautiful campus that I have seen. When UCLA was first recruiting me, I was not sure. But once I got to meet Coach Alford, we hit it off.
"I believe they will use my versatility. I like the way they use Kyle Anderson. The team seems closer than last year and a lot happier, and that meant a lot to me.”
What he brings: His versatility and mobility are what stand out. For a power forward, he does a great job of taking defenders off the dribble from as far out as the arc. When he goes inside to the paint, Looney can beat you with finesse and touch or athletic ability and length. From the defensive end of the floor, he is mobile enough to guard other power forwards, but is also quick enough to cover a small forward because he does move his feet well. Rebounding can be a major strength in Looney’s game when he is not standing out on the perimeter watching the shot go up, but instead attacking the rim on missed shots.
How he fits: Alford will be establishing his style of play at UCLA, but the system will key on spreading out the floor and allowing Looney to use his versatility in every possession.
“Coach Alford said that if I grab a rebound, I can push it on the break,” Looney said. “When the defense is back, he will move me around.”
With the right pieces around Looney, Alford can play a free-flowing offense.
Reminds us of: Former Duke forward Lance Thomas because of the versatility at the forward position. The ability to go out and pressure his man away from the basket is something forwards cannot do, but Looney has that type of athletic ability and lateral footwork. He will be able to add weight to his frame and become more of a presence inside, and Looney’s offensive game is ahead of Thomas at the same stage. Looney also has flashes of Scottie Pippen in his game and could take on a similar role.
How the class shapes up: Looney is the big fish in UCLA’s class, but the Bruins also have big man Gyorgy Goloman, and they are heavily involved with Justise Winslow, Idrissa Diallo and Thomas Welsh. The Bruins need a little bit of everything and are still in the hunt for a high-level point guard and a shooter. The Bruins need more to be a contender for the Pac-12, but landing a player with Looney's game and star power will surely attract more talent to Westwood.