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Can UCLA win big without Jordan Adams?

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The UCLA Bruins showed a crack in the armor tonight, losing 78-69 to the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 final. They’ll be going to the Big Dance with or without that auto-bid, but a team with something to prove doesn’t want to show weakness in a big game when so few big games are left on the schedule.

This year’s UCLA Bruins are a somewhat motley collection of freshmen and former North Carolina players. Whatever they were to start the season, they became more than that as March approached, winning the regular-season Pac-12 title and making it to the final game of the league tourney as well.

Near the end of a semifinal win over Arizona, however, the delicate balance forged by Ben Howland took a hit, as freshman phenom Jordan Adams went down with a foot injury that turned out to be a bad break that would end his season.

Shabazz Muhammad got most of the press for the Bruins this season, in what may be his only collegiate campaign, but Adams was a solid rock for UCLA as well. He was second to Muhammad in scoring, putting up 15.3 points per game, but he was second to none in defensive impact, knocking away 2.2 steals per contest. It’s that high-energy stopping power that the Bruins are likely to miss most of all as they sojourn into late March.

Still, it may be too soon to believe that the Bruins are fatally flawed. Muhammad has the elite scoring touch, and Larry Drew II has turned out to be the right point guard for Howland’s system. Travis Wear is a marksman, shooting over 50 percent on the year, and 6’9″ Kyle Anderson can do a little bit of everything very well. Anderson’s skill set includes a little thievery – he’s right behind Adams with 1.8 steals per game.

Ben Howland tried Norman Powell in Adams’ place against Oregon, and results were inconclusive. Powell had ten points in 37 minutes of play, and was reasonably efficient when he managed to get a shot off. With no other options waiting around on the bench, Powell’s “not bad” may have to do down the stretch.

The Bruins didn’t look bad against Oregon, but neither did they look like a team that would make a long run in the NCAA Tournament. With Jordan confined to the bench in a walking boot, UCLA’s postseason hopes may be hobbled as well.

Watch Lists for Cousy, West, Erving and Malone Awards

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The Naismith Hall of Fame today released the watch lists for their awards for the best point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward. Centers will be released on Friday.

Here they are:

Bob Cousy Award Watch List:

  • Kyle Collinsworth, Brigham Young University
  • Tyrone Wallace, California
  • Maodo Lo, Columbia
  • Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State
  • D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
  • Juan’ya Green, Hofstra
  • Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
  • Monte Morris, Iowa State
  • Frank Mason, Kansas
  • Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
  • Melo Trimble, Maryland
  • Marcus Paige, North Carolina
  • Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
  • Gary Payton, Jr., Oregon State
  • Kris Dunn, Providence
  • Carson Puriefoy, Stony Brook
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova
  • Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
  • Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
  • Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin

Jerry West Award Watch List:

  • Allonzo Trier, Arizona
  • Anthony Drmic, Boise State
  • Kellen Dunham, Butler
  • Jordan Matthews, California
  • Grayson Allen, Duke
  • Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
  • Marvell Harris, Fresno State
  • James Blackmon, Indiana
  • AJ English, Iona
  • Antonio Blakeney, Louisiana State
  • Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland
  • Sheldon McClellan, Miami
  • Caris Levert, Michigan
  • Malik Newman, Mississippi State
  • Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
  • E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island
  • Danuel House, Texas A&M
  • Melvin Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth
  • Malcom Brogdon, Virginia
  • Ron Baker, Wichita State

Julius Erving Award Watch List:

  • Jaylen Brown, California
  • Daniel Hamilton, Connecticut
  • Rodney Purvis, Connecticut
  • Brandon Ingram, Duke
  • John Brown, High Point
  • Troy Williams, Indiana
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas
  • Wayne Selden, Jr., Kansas
  • Alex Poythress, Kentucky
  • Damion Lee, Louisville
  • Ben Simmons, Louisiana State
  • Jake Layman, Maryland
  • Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina
  • DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s
  • Malik Pope, San Diego State
  • Michael Gbinije, Syracuse
  • D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M
  • Brandon Taylor, Utah
  • Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

Karl Malone Award Watch List:

  • Rico Gathers, Baylor
  • Taurean Prince, Baylor
  • Ivan Rabb, California
  • Tony Parker, UCLA
  • Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida
  • Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
  • Georges Niang, Iowa State
  • Perry Ellis, Kansas
  • Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette
  • Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
  • Brice Johnson, North Carolina
  • Beejay Anya, North Carolina State
  • Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma
  • Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
  • Markus Kennedy, SMU
  • Jameel Warney, Stony Brook
  • Jordan Loveridge, Utah
  • Alec Peters, Valporasio
  • Anton Grady, Wichita State

UNLV to host NBA scouting combine

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UNLV is the latest to join in the trend of hosting their own NBA scouting combine, following in the footsteps of Kentucky and LSU.

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told NBCSports.com. The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

The Runnin’ Rebels once again have a stockpile of pro talent on their roster. Stephen Zimmermann is projected as a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, while the likes of Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw, Dwayne Morgan Jr. and Derrick Jones are talented enough that they will get plenty of attention from NBA scouts during the upcoming season.

Kentucky hosted their scouting combine over the weekend, with as many as 70 NBA scouts reportedly in attendance. LSU is holding their combine this week.

ESPN.com was the first to report the news.