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June 4, 2012

Monday's Mail

Editor's note: Every Monday BSR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Bruins in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisBSR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on BSR's Facebook page.

John: I've seen you rave about Tyler Ennis and I've seen you rave about Zach LaVine. So who's the better point guard? Who should UCLA take?

I got this question a few times this week and I think some fans are misunderstood on the two prospects, as well as the whole 2013 guard situation for UCLA. For starters, LaVine and Ennis are two completely different point guards. LaVine is more like a Russell Westbrook or a Steph Curry. He's long, athletic, a great shooter, a powerful dunker and the passing / ball handles come almost second to all of that. Ennis, meanwhile, is more of a Steve Nash. He's a small 6 feet 2, 180 pounds and doesn't appear to have the body that suggests he can grow. But he's a great playmaker. He handles the ball extremely well, can drive into all kinds of traffic and still find an open guy on the perimeter and pile up the assists throughout an evening.

So really, if you picked them both up, one would play the point and one would be the shooting guard, and you'd have a nasty backcourt for a while. As for what UCLA's plans are for the 2013 class, don't be surprised if the Bruins end up with a couple guards who can play the one. With Larry Drew set to graduate and Kyle Anderson most likely being a one-and-done player, UCLA is going to need some point guards for the upcoming class. Which means if LaVine does end up committing in the next few weeks like we all expect, UCLA likely won't back off any of the other high-major point guards it's recruiting.


Brian: Give us some of your top players at Pangos this weekend. Anybody really jump out at you?

A lot of players popped, of course. The first notable prospect has to be Cliff Alexander, the five-star big man in the 2014 class. He was probably the most dominant player of the tournament. We found out he's a Michigan State lean, however, and the Bruins chances with him don't seem great right now. Rounding out the rest of my top five players that I saw would be 2013 PF Jarrell Martin, 2015 F Ben Simmons, 2013 G Wayne Selden and then LaVine. Of those four, right now it looks like the Bruins will land LaVine and have a decent shot at Selden, but the other two aren't really on the UCLA radar yet.

Out of the other UCLA recruits we saw at the tourney, which we wrote about earlier this morning, I think Shaqquan Aaron and Stanley Johnson impressed me most. With Aaron's length and his all-around game, I could see him being a top 15 player. And with Johnson's already big frame and polished game, he's going to be right around that ranking when all is said and done as well. UCLA has offered both, and is already very much in the mix for Johnson.


Metrosteel: With the baseball draft upon us, how is it looking for Aaron Porter to keep his football commitment?

Well, he didn't get drafted in the first round this evening, so that's a good start if you're a UCLA football fan. We chronicled his whole decision process in an article here last month, but in summation, if he doesn't get a ridiculous signing bonus (we heard somewhere around $2 million), he'll almost certainly be at UCLA next year. That doesn't necessarily mean he won't sign with the baseball team that ultimately ends up picking him this week, however. The likely case is that a team will draft him tomorrow, between rounds two and 10, and sign him to a deal that allows him to play with UCLA during the school year and then with their MLB organization in the summers.

That option works out wonderfully for the scholarship-strapped Bruins. If he signs with the MLB team, he has to give up his football scholarship, which helps a UCLA squad that is over the 85-man limit. It works out well for Porter too, who keeps his NFL and MLB dreams alive, gets his education paid for by a pro team and gets some extra dollars in his pocket as well.


Rchrist: What's the status of the proposed new practice fields?

I walked by Spaulding Field a few hours ago and there were no trucks, no new turf and no construction going on. With UCLA fall camp set to begin in a few weeks here, it looks like the field renovations won't begin until after the season.

It's kind of a gamble for the Bruins here. If even one more player hurts himself and blames it on those fields, I can't imagine the riot among fans that would ensue. Those fields are a joke and there's no excuse for a program like UCLA to continue to put off the renovations, and if it costs the team a star player, the backlash is going to be wild.


Eric: What do you make of the Bruins most recent commitment in Inoke Lotulelei?

I didn't mind it like some of you all did. I heard a lot of fans complaining about how UCLA is his only offer, about how small he is and about his top-end speed. But if you look at the Bruins offense, they have a position on this roster dedicated to players like Lotulelei. It's a hybrid receiver / running back spot, and Noel Mazzone uses undersized / quick / shifty backs there (see Steven Manfro, Jordon James and Roosevelt Davis). UCLA coaches identified Lotulelei very early on, so he obviously fits the mold they're looking for.

The thing that is really curious about the commitment though is how it all happened. Lotulelei said he committed last Tuesday, yet nobody, not even his main recruiter Marques Tuiasosopo (who always tweets after he earns a commitment), acknowledged it until Saturday. Makes me wonder if there was some sort of hang up or debate on whether the Bruins should actually take the pledge or not.

Either way, because of his LDS mission, he likely won't make a significant impact on the Bruins until 2015, so it's all pretty much a non-story at this point in time.



Check out more answers to your UCLA questions on Bruin Tracks!


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