With point guard Aaron Holiday having already verbally committed to attend UCLA, head coach Steve Alford was in need of another guard with transfer Jon Octeus and Norman Powell both being seniors. Saturday afternoon the program landed a verbal commitment from one of the best shooting guards in the Class of 2015, as Prince Ali announced his decision to head west for college.
Ali, a four-star prospect ranked 27th in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, attends Sagemont School in Florida and was at one point in time a UConn commit. However in late May Ali reopened his recruitment, and his play during the summer months resulted in offers from programs such as Louisville and Maryland. During Nike EYBL play Ali averaged 20.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for the Southern Stampede, shooting 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from three.
As a junior at Sagemont, Ali averaged 20 points and six rebounds per game on a team that finished the year with a Florida Class 3A state title and a 33-0 record. For his efforts Ali was named Small School Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the Sun-Sentinel.
With Ali on board UCLA still has a couple spots to fill recruiting-wise, with 2015 small forward Jaylen Brown and big man Carlton Bragg being two of the players they’re actively recruiting at the point in time. Who else Alford and his staff can reel in remains to be seen, but with Holiday and Ali in tow UCLA’s off to a solid start.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.