Zach LaVine, the skywalking 6-foot-5 freshman from UCLA, has declared for the NBA draft, his father told the LA Daily News. LaVine had a poor start to the NCAA Tournament – 1-for-8, six fouls in the Bruins’ first two games – but played better in a loss to Florida Thursday, though he scored just five points in 24 minutes. LaVine has no business leaving UCLA after just one season, but the 19-year old will get drafted, and who am I to tell the kid to turn down millions?
LaVine’s biggest problem was that despite his athletic ability, he’s just not a better college player than the two Bruins guards in front of him – Jordan Adams and Norman Powell. LaVine wants to show he can handle the ball more – maybe he thinks he can be Russell Westbrook at the next level – but UCLA coach Steve Alford’s son, also a freshman, is the backup point guard. With point guard Kyle Anderson leaving for the NBA, it looked like Alford would make his son the starting point guard next year.
Clearly, LaVine felt he was “stuck” in Westwood, with little room to improve his draft standing.
So he’s gone.
I had LaVine in the 20s in my last mock draft, but it’s too early to tell how high he could rise until everyone has declared. I think he’s most enticing for a team with multiple picks (ie, Phoenix, or maybe Philadelphia) because LaVine has the potential to be a breakout player in 2-3 years … assuming he improves his all-around game, something that can be difficult to do in the NBA from the end of the bench.