Whether it's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in 2008, Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee in 2011 or Zach Lavine this spring, few schools have been more vulnerable to questionable early-entry decisions than UCLA in recent years.
Therefore the Bruins have to be especially grateful to finally have some good news to celebrate this spring.
Guard Jordan Adams, UCLA's leading scorer this past season, announced Thursday he will return for his junior season. DraftExpress.com projected Adams as the No. 24 pick in the first round prior to the 6-foot-5 wing's decision to return to school.
"I’ve had so much fun playing here at UCLA, and I’m really excited about the team we’re going to have next year,” Adams said in a statement released by the school. "Once the season ended, my family and I began carefully weighing all of my options. In the end, staying at UCLA for my junior year is a win-win situation. I’m glad that I went through the process, received constructive feedback and had time to reflect on what I truly want."
The return of Adams elevates UCLA into position to be the primary challenger to Arizona in the Pac-12 next season. Utah will be much improved, Colorado could be formidable if Spencer Dinwiddie returns and Oregon and Stanford have plenty of returning talent, but the Bruins probably wouldn't trade rosters with any of those teams.
A top 10 recruiting class has replenished the frontcourt as McDonald's All-Americans Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh and promising Jonah Bolden will join junior Tony Parker in the rotation. Adams and Norman Powell give UCLA two of the Pac-12's best wings, while former elite recruit Isaac Hamilton will provide some perimeter scoring pop off the bench.
The big question mark for UCLA remains the point guard position, which is in flux after Kyle Anderson left early for the NBA and the Bruins failed to land any of their top recruiting targets at the position last year. Sophomore-to-be Bryce Alford will be one of the candidates at that position. Hamilton also could spend time at point guard if he proves he can distribute in addition to score. It's also possible UCLA could scour the transfer market in search of a short-term stopgap.
Whoever the point guard is, the presence of Adams will make him look better.
Adams averaged 17.4 points per game as a sophomore, showcasing an ability to score off the dribble, via mid-range jumpers or from behind the arc. He also is an effective rebounder for a guard and has a knack for getting in the passing lanes and creating steals that lead to fast-break points.
As Adams said, his decision to return could be win-win for him and UCLA.
If he can improve his body and the consistency of his jump shot, he could solidify himself as a first-round pick in 2015. And he could also lead the Bruins to a memorable season in the process.
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