Did UCLA's Kyle Anderson Jump the Gun with NBA Announcement?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
UCLA's Kyle Anderson is apparently done at UCLA after this season—so says his father to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman.
Before we get to the oddity of the timing of such a decision for this particular player, let's make it clear that there's nothing wrong with leaving school early. Anderson, assuming his father speaks for him, clearly wants to make his living playing basketball.
Many athletes feel the same way. Most use college as their training ground. But it's not the only route. And Anderson does not need this year or next at UCLA to become a pro.
So go. Plan on leaving.
But here's why sharing such a plan to the world doesn't make a lot of sense, and why this story caught me off guard: Anderson is not a lock to be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft in 2014.
That is the case for Marcus Smart, who has made it known he's finished after this year at Oklahoma State. And it's pretty much the case for Jahii Carson, who has also made his intentions clear this summer.
Getting that out there makes sense for those two players, because most were already assuming such things. Now neither player has to answer those questions this year. And those questions can get annoying.
But it's debatable Anderson would even get those questions. He had a nice freshman season—9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a starter on a 25-10 team—but the NBA was not knocking down his door.
This year Anderson might get a chance to play more point guard, which is the position where he envisions himself playing.
He's the rare 6'9" point guard prospect, and that is at least intriguing to the NBA. But unless Anderson puts up great numbers this season, it's not likely he was going to get many questions about his future, because it's not likely he'll be a first-round pick.
Now, if Anderson struggles, UCLA fans are sure to criticize him for not being focused on UCLA. He's opening himself to being made fun of by other fan bases.
That's pressure and attention that Anderson does not need. It's a possible distraction that coach Steve Alford cannot want. And even Anderson's teammates could be questioning what his motives are—trying to win or trying to get paid.
And when you listen to the explanation Anderson's father gave Goodman, the motivation is pretty clear. It sounds like the family wants Anderson focused on becoming a pro.
Kyle has made great strides in his mental approach to the game and his work ethic since being at UCLA. The major deficiencies in his overall game are his lack of strength, quickness and explosion, and inconsistent shooting. We feel that both of which can be addressed more efficiently with more time and repetition. It's more than likely that it will be time for Kyle to move on at the end of this college season.
If that's the intention, why stay this year at UCLA? Why put off that development? And why even share this belief when no one was really wondering in the first place?
It would even be refreshing if Anderson had left after his freshman year. If a player does not want to be in school, no one is forcing him to be there. Anderson could be in the D-League or overseas. He could be focused on basketball and basketball alone.
It's entirely possible that this could just be a father speaking out of turn. Remember, Russ Smith's daddy said his boy was going pro, and Smith eventually decided to stay put at Louisville.
Anderson could end up changing his mind and spending his junior year at UCLA. No one would blame him for that.
We'll just wonder why his father decided in September that was not an option worth considering.
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