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February 20, 2014

Anderson in midst of sensational sophomore year

UCLA's point guard Kyle Anderson has been shooting lights-out this season.

Twenty-six games into his sophomore - and likely final, according to a pre-season declaration by his father - season, Anderson's field-goal percentage has increased by roughly nine percent (2012-13: 41.6%, 2013-14; 50.2%).

Even more impressive and slightly shocking is the 31-percent boost in converting his three-point attempts (2012-13: 21.1%, 2013-14: 52.4%), which has skyrocketed him from being UCLA's worst to best shooter beyond the arc.

That's pushed his effective field-goal percentage up to 54.3 percent from last season's 43.0 percent.

However, Anderson says you shouldn't be surprised in the slightest at his shooting improvement this season.

He'll tell you it's not so much an improvement as a reversion back to his usual smooth-shooting ways.

"I feel like after last year, I had to get back to the basics. I've never been a bad shooter," Anderson said. "My freshman year shooting is not a resemblance of how I shoot the ball. I've always been a very good shooter, but I think freshman year, with my thumb, that really messed me up."

After injuring his thumb in a practice before his high school state championship game, the 6-foot-9 point guard continued playing in a few games and then reinjured it while practicing for the McDonald's All-American Game.

He played in the McDonald's game, but needed surgery to repair his thumb in late April, which kept him inactive until August, three months before taking the court with UCLA for the first time.

Anderson thinks that had a significant effect on his shooting because he was unable to get in as many offseason reps as he would've liked prior to his freshman season.

This summer, the Fairview, N.J., native had an uninterrupted summer. And that has been just what he needed to prove the type of shooter he's capable of being at the college level.

"I think I got back to the basics this summer," he said. "(I've_ been a good shooter my whole life."

In addition to valuable off-season reps, Anderson has also been working on refining his form, mainly keeping his shot in one fluid motion and consciously cutting down on fade-aways.

He's also been trying to maximize his time with UCLA assistant coach Ed Schilling, who has worked with former top NBA prospects such as Mario Chalmers, Gordon Heyward and Marquis Teague in an NBA readiness program.

"We've been in the gym as much as we can," Anderson said of Schilling, who was brought on to UCLA's coaching staff by first-year head coach Steve Alford. "I really take his workouts serious 'cause he's worked out a lot of NBA guys. I really trust him in what he's doing. He's really great on player development."

Offseason reps, good tutelage, and the added insight of a season of college basketball beyond him have molded Anderson into an offensive juggernaut.

In addition to averaging a second-on-the-team-high 16 points per game in conference play, Anderson is also averaging 8.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists, which slots him in the Top 10 in the Pac-12 in the three categories. His assists average qualifies for No. 1 in the conference.

He's also registered a conference-high 14 double-doubles this season, and has put up double figures in at least one stat category (points, rebounds, or assists) in all but one of UCLA's 13 conference games.

Anderson's Pac-12 opponents aren't the only ones taking note of his offensive prowess, though.

Earlier this week, he was named amongst 23 point guards to the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation's top point guard.

"That's a good feeling," Anderson said. "That just means I'm playing the point guard position well for the team right now. It's an honor."


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