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Maybe the expectations for Tony Parker were unfair; generally, they are, and they are placed on very young people by those on the outside looking in.
Heading to Westwood, Calif., Parker was a 5-star high school center and was expected to impact games right out of the box. He played sparingly as a freshman last season under Ben Howland, and in the minutes he played, he was not impressive.
Then, this season, he was supposed to be better—and he has been, just slightly. Of the Bruins' eight-man rotation, Parker plays the fewest minutes at 19 per game. In those minutes, he averages seven points, five rebounds and nearly three personal fouls.
With UCLA's front line and rebounding known as its Achilles' heel, the team could use a powerful physical presence like Parker's more than just about anything. But he has not shown the right set of skills or in-game intelligence to merit extended time inside the fray.
While it has appeared, just to the eyes, over the last three games that Parker is advancing up to another level, the raw numbers make it look like the same old show.
In a loss and two wins over Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, respectively, Parker has 10, three and six points. In the same stretch, he has eight, three and two rebounds. He had two fouls against Arizona and three fouls against Colorado. Against Arizona State, he fouled out in 17 minutes of game time.
Wanaah Bail is probably right where he ought to be, but there had been a desperate hope he would be able to step in as a raw transfer player and light a fire in the front court.
Bail, a freshman from Houston, Texas, returned from a serious knee surgery in November and has not secured a spot in the rotation. In 12 games since returning from injury, he has collected five "did not plays."
He is said to be a powerful practice player and, depending on who you ask, the team's best or second-best athlete, behind Zach LaVine. At a very strong 6'9'', Bail was ranked the 28th-best power forward in his class and is regarded as an interior player with vast potential.
Unfortunately for this year's UCLA team, Bail looks more and more like a next year player.