Kyle Anderson must live up to the hype for the UCLA Bruina to make noise this March.
ESPN rated the Bruins’ 6’9” guard as the fifth-best prospect in the 2012 class.
While fellow 5-star recruit Shabazz Muhammad is carrying the club as expected, Anderson’s transition hasn’t been as seamless. On the season, he’s only averaging 8.2 points and 3.7 assists per game. Last week, Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports labeled Anderson as the most disappointing freshman in the nation thus far.
While Anderson is leading the team in rebounds with 8.2 a contest, he must create more offense. If he fails to do so, UCLA will continue to frustrate.
The team has already lost three times this season, including a shocking upset at the hands of the 4-4 Cal Poly Mustangs of the Big West Conference.
With months until March Madness begins, though, Anderson has plenty of time to become the star he was projected to be. In fact, he’s already been showing flashes of that brilliance.
Anderson is averaging 11.8 points, 8.0 boards and four dimes in his last four games—that after averaging just 3.0 points over his previous four. On Saturday, he almost finished with a triple-double, recording 16 points, 11 boards and seven assists.
Granted, that performance came against Prairie View A&M, but still. If Anderson consistently puts up those types of numbers, UCLA will make a run in the Big Dance.
Muhammad is a legitimate go-to scorer and is averaging 17.3 points per game. Freshman Jordan Adams, who was ranked by ESPN as just the 41st-best recruit in the country, came out of nowhere to emerge as a solid second option and is averaging 16.9 points per. Add Anderson to that trio, and the Bruins have a legit Big Three to lead them to the promised land.
But until Anderson becomes more comfortable in their offense, that’s only a pipe dream.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.