UCLA freshman Zach LaVine will forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the NBA draft, his father Paul told the Los Angeles Daily News.
Despite pedestrian statistics, LaVine, 19, figures to make a smooth transition to the NBA. He has enough athleticism to win a dunk contest at any level. He’s a streaky shooter who is capable of making the NBA three-pointer. He’s long and lean. He has good size (6-5, 180 pounds) that’s prototypical for a NBA guard. He has a 6-6 wingspan. And the former high-school point guard has good ball-handling skills.
When LaVine averaged 14.2 points and shot 50 percent on three-pointers during his first month at UCLA, NBAdraft.net projected he would land in the lottery of the 2014 draft. The website has Orlando taking him with the No. 12 pick.
DraftExpress.com projects he’ll be taken No. 30th in the first round by San Antonio.
“They (NBA scouts) love him,” Paul LaVine told the Daily News. “They’re picturing him at 22.”
LaVine averaged 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 24.4 minutes as a backup guard at UCLA (28-9), which finished its season Thursday night after a 79-68 loss to Florida in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen. He shot 44.1 percent from the field, including 37.5 percent on three-pointers. He converted 69.1 percent of his free throws. LaVine was selected to the Pac-12 all-freshman team.
The four-star recruit from Bothell High picked UCLA over Washington. After former Bruins coach Ben Howland was fired last year LaVine briefly considered backing out of his agreement to play for UCLA.
However, new coach Steve Alford convinced him to stay.
It now appears as if their strained relationship is one of the reasons LaVine is leaving the Bruins.
UCLA is also expected to lose sophomore guard Kyle Anderson, who is expected to turn pro. It’s uncertain if sophomore guard Jordan Adams will return to school.
Even if Adams leaves, UCLA will be fine on the perimeter. Bryce Alford, who was selected to the Pac-12 all-freshman team, has been groomed to take over at point guard. The Bruins return junior Norman Powell and they’ll add highly touted freshman Isaac Hamilton, who had to sit this season after transferring from UTEP.
LaVine joins Arizona State sophomore guard Jahii Carson on the list of Pac-12 players to announce they’re leaving school early for the NBA draft.
Meanwhile Arizona freshman forward Aaron Gordon is expected to declare for the draft while teammates Nick Johnson, the junior guard who won the Pac-12 player of the year award, sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman wing Rondae Hollis–Jefferson are reportedly considering turning pro.
Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Oregon junior guard Joseph Young and Oregon State junior forward Eric Moreland may also declare for the NBA draft.
Utah junior guard Delon Wright said he’s returning to school.