UCLA will have some tough shoes to fill after Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine officially declared for the 2014 NBA draft.
Anderson had one of the best seasons of any player in the country, averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. His versatility and production helped him be named third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
He officially announced his decision on the school's website along with this statement:
I want to thank everyone at UCLA for all they have done for me. My two years at UCLA were two of the best years of my life. It was a tough decision to make with my family since our last game, but I have decided to enter my name into the NBA Draft. I will still continue to embrace the UCLA community, and I hope they will do the same with me.
The 6'9" sophomore lined up at point guard for much of the year and used his overwhelming size advantage to help out on both ends of the court. He does not have great quickness, but he used his natural vision to figure out the best play every time.
While he might move to the wing in the NBA, his ball skills and passing ability will still be appreciated, as well as his efficient shooting at 48.3 percent from three-point range.
Of course, ESPN's Chad Ford notes that there is some disagreement about his projection:
Still, Anderson has proven himself at a high level and should be able to contribute in some way in the NBA.
On the other hand, LaVine did not show much this season but could end up being the better professional player.
The backup guard only averaged 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists this past season while getting inconsistent playing time. However, he has the raw speed and athleticism that Anderson lacks and could be a big-time scorer at the next level with some development.
Head coach Steve Alford explained it well on the school's official site:
It has been exciting to see Zach develop from the time he first set foot on campus at UCLA to where he is today. Zach has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential and has an extremely bright future ahead of him. It has been a pleasure to watch him grow both as a basketball player and person this past year, and I look forward to watching Zach play in the NBA for many years to come.
NBA teams will certainly hope he can reach that potential. Then again, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports is not as confident:
Don't see how Zach LaVine is going to have an immediate impact in the NBA when he couldn't have a major impact in the NCAA Tournament.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 28, 2014
LaVine is currently rated as the No. 33 available prospect with Anderson coming in at No. 18, according to DraftExpress.
No matter where these players are drafted, UCLA will have a tough time replacing them. Anderson and LaVine were two of the team's top-four scorers, with leading scorer Jordan Adams also considering going pro.
There is some young talent on the roster, but the Bruins will likely see a significant drop after a successful run to the Sweet 16 this past season.
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