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UCLA Basketball: The 5 Most Impressive Bruins in 2013-14 so Far

Robert PaceContributor IIIJanuary 3, 2014

UCLA Basketball: The 5 Most Impressive Bruins in 2013-14 so Far

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    UCLA has a handful of players turning heads not just in Westwood and the Pac-12, but around the nation.

    The ridiculous stats of Kyle Anderson, the high-flying dunks of Zach LaVine and Norman Powell, and standout performances from Jordan Adams continue to awe Bruins fans throughout the 2013-14 season.

    As UCLA approaches its first conference game on Sunday, here’s a look at the most impressive Bruins so far.

5. Bryce Alford

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Nonconference: 6.8 PTS, 3.4 AST, 1.0 TO, 1.2 STL

    Bryce Alford has proven to be a great fit for the type of program his father, head coach Steve, is attempting to establish in Westwood.

    He's hard-working, passionate and is a great asset for UCLA coming off the bench during its nonconference schedule.

    The 6'3" backup point guard is not only a good defender, but an impressive three-point shooter.

    During nonconference play, Alford drained a three in 11 straight games, most notably knocking down four treys (4-of-4) in his career-high 18-point effort against Northwestern.

    Approaching Pac-12 play, he is averaging an impressive 45.7 percent from beyond the arc.

4. Norman Powell

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Nonconference: 11.2 PTS, 2.1 AST, 0.3 TO, 1.5 STL

    With the spotlight typically shining bright on Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine, Norman Powell is often overlooked, but his success so far in his junior season speaks for itself.

    Through UCLA's first 13 games, Powell is averaging 11.2 points per game, one of the four Bruins averaging double figures.

    Although his emphatic dunks have been upstaged by freshman phenom Zach LaVine, Powell continues to inject energy into UCLA with his explosive drives to the rim.

    In addition to his offensive contributions, Powell is also an excellent defender and often forces turnovers, especially when UCLA is running a press.

3. Kyle Anderson

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Nonconference: 14.5 PTS, 8.7 REB, 6.7 AST, 3.1 TO, 1.8 STL

    Kyle Anderson can and does do it all on the offensive end.

    As evidenced by his stats, the 6'9" point guard is one of the most versatile players in the country. Anderson not only averages the closest to a triple-double amongst all players in the nation, but he also notched himself a genuine triple-double during nonconference play (13 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST vs. Morehead State).

    Although Anderson is one of the nation's premier players, he's often overambitious on the defensive end, which yields mistakes alongside stat-padding blocks and steals.

    Consistency on both ends will be the key for Anderson in conference play, but his talent will most certainly continue to shine bright as it has so far this season.

    Among his many accomplishments, Anderson has improved tremendously from beyond the arc and has already made more three-pointers this season (12-of-22) than last (8-of-38).

    With dedication and added confidence, he shot an impressive 54.5 percent from beyond the arc through UCLA's nonconference games, a 33.3-percent increase from last season.

2. Zach LaVine

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Nonconference: 12.2 PTS, 2.1 AST, 1.2 TO, 0.9 STL

    Zach LaVine came into Westwood as the Bruin's top recruit but was only ranked near the bottom of the top 50 of all incoming freshmen.

    To the delight of UCLA, LaVine has emerged as one of the best freshmen in the country with his smooth shot and high-octane dunks.

    While LaVine's energy alone would be a significant boost to any team, he is also an impressive shooter who averaged 54.9 percent from the field and a laudable 44 percent from beyond the arc.

    He doesn't possess the highest three-point shooting percentage on the team (Kyle Anderson: 54.5%*), but he's scored the most three-point field goals on the team (22) and has scored three or more treys in four out of 13 games.

    As he continues to develop this season, LaVine has the potential to mold into one of the best players in the nation.

     

    *Amongst players who average one or more three-point shot attempts per game.

1. Jordan Adams

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Nonconference: 18.5 PTS, 5.1 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.6 TO, 3.3 STL

    Jordan Adams' teammate Kyle Anderson picked an apt nickname when he referred to him as "Instant Offense."

    Adams was UCLA's best all-around player in his freshman season and he's not only maintained that status, but he's become an even more dynamic player in his sophomore campaign in Westwood. 

    It’s no surprise that he’s statistically the Bruins’ top scorer. He simply knows how to score and always attacks the basket with ferocity.

    To complement his offensive prowess, Adams is also a skilled defender and is currently third in the nation in steals per game.

    Adams will be an even more valuable asset for UCLA this season if he can bump up his three-point shooting percentage (34.5 percent through nonconference play), but he still remains the Bruins’ best all-around player.

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