Tag: Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday

UCLA freshman Aaron Holiday making strong early impression

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UCLA opened its exhibition play last night with a big win over Cal State Los Angeles as freshman guard Aaron Holiday made a positive first impression.

The younger brother of former Bruin star guard Jrue Holiday, Aaron made an impact on Friday night as he started alongside Bryce Alford in the backcourt and finished with 16 points and five steals in a 95-57 win.

A former four-star prospect, Holiday entering the starting lineup and defending at a high level is a very positive sign for UCLA because it could allow for the Bruins to put Alford on the weaker offensive player when they switch to defense.

While the speed of the game still made Holiday turn the ball over a little too much, if he can play the passing lanes and create offense for UCLA it will be a huge help for their starting five.

Replacing departed senior Norman Powell will be a tough task for head coach Steve Alford this season but he’s hoping a combination of Holiday and another freshman guard, Prince Ali, can help fill that void.


Addition of freshman guards could help Bryce Alford’s scoring

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Bryce Alford was second on UCLA in scoring at 15.4 points per game.

He’ll return in an even bigger role this season with Norman Powell having graduated. However, he should benefit from the addition of two heralded guards joining the program.

Prince Ali and Aaron Holiday, two four-star guards, were the prize recruits in in Steve Alford’s Class of 2015. On Monday, the UCLA coach spoke to reporters, and according to Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times, Alford praised the two first-year guards, saying they were both, “way ahead of it physically, more physically ready to play college basketball than most guards are.”

Last season, the Bruins back court was overworked with Alford, Powell and Isaac Hamilton all logging between 34 and 36 minutes a night. The lack of guards meant Alford had the ball in his hands the majority of the time. That should change with Ali and Holiday, the younger brother of former UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Bryce Alford is most productive in catch-and-shoot opportunities, but he rarely operated without the ball last season. With Holiday as an additional point-guard option, Alford should be free to try to score more.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Steve Alford said. “I think what we’ve seen in the summer has given us an awful lot of confidence that that can happen.”

The UCLA front court is also gaining some much-needed support. Jonah Bolden will make his collegiate debut after being he was not cleared by the NCAA last fall. The 6-foot-9 forward is coming off of knee surgery this past May. Bolden will join Tony Parker and sophomores Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman. The frontline also adds the other two members of the Class of 2015: Ikenna Okwarabizie and Alex Olesinski.

The UCLA front court will be mostly inexperienced, meaning the Bruins will once again rely on the guards. But this time around they’ll have depth in that department.

UCLA begins the season on Nov. 13 against Monmouth.

Four-star shooting guard verbally commits to UCLA

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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.