In terms of the NBA Draft and talented players declaring, it was a relatively quiet weekend across the NCAA. We saw our fair share of excitement with both the men’s and women’s Final Four getting under way, but we didn’t see anyone declare for the draft. After Kentucky’s loss to the Wisconsin Badgers, big man Willie Cauley-Stein hinted at leaving Lexington for the bright lights in the NBA, but nothing has been confirmed just yet.
On Monday, when all eyes are on the NCAA Championship between the Badgers and the Duke Blue Devils, we saw some news pertaining to the upcoming draft. Freshman star Kevon Looney, who helped lead the UCLA Bruins to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, officially declared for the draft. This move comes as little surprise, as it was anticipated that Looney would leave school early.Looney, a 6’9” forward out of Milwaukee, WI, was one of the nation’s best freshman in 2014-15. He averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest, while playing in just shy of 31 minutes per contest. His rebounding average was second-best among freshmen in the entire NCAA, and his strong play helped him nab a spot on the All-Pac 12 Second Team.
To open the season, Looney recorded an impressive 7 double-doubles over UCLA’s first 10 games. He would go on to record 15 double-doubles over the course of the season, which led all freshmen. Against Stanford on January 8th, Looney recorded 27 points and 19 rebounds in an 86 – 81, double overtime win for the Bruins. The 27 points and the 19 rebounds were both season-highs. That game has scouts all across the NBA wanting more, as he shot 58.3% (7-of-12) from the floor, 66.7% (2-of-3) from three point range, and got to the free throw line an impressive 17 times.
Looney is widely considered to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, and could help a team immediately who needs a forward who can shoot the ball. On the year, he shot 41.5% (22-of-53) from three point range. He has the ability to shoot from distance, but can also pound the ball inside and be an impact player in the paint. Look for Looney’s name to be near the top of a lot of draft boards come selection time.