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VIDEO: UCLA commit Jaylen Hands jumps over parents to win dunk contest

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UCLA commit Jaylen Hands participated in a dunk contest on Friday night as he jumped over his own parents to win.

The five-star point guard is going to be expected to replace Lonzo Ball in the Bruins starting lineup next season, as Ball recently departed for the NBA Draft. The No. 24 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Hands was a McDonald’s All-American this season.

(H/t: BallerVisions)

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

LeBron James tells LaVar Ball to “keep my family out of your mouth”

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After speaking his mind loudly for months, LaVar Ball has finally struck a nerve with one of basketball’s biggest names.

LeBron James.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star responded Tuesday to Ball’s claims that his children – UCLA star Lonzo and high schoolers LiAngelo and LaMelo – have brighter futures than James’ 12- and 9-year-old sons in basketball.

“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth, keep my family out of your mouth,” James told ESPN. “This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”

LaVar Ball may have only been a part of the national basketball consciousness for a couple of months, but he’s made no shortage of outrageous remarks. He said he would have beaten Michael Jordan while in his prime as a player. That he wants a $1 billion apparel deal for his sons. He said that Lonzo is already better than two-time defending MVP Steph Curry.

His commentary of James’ children, though, elicited the strongest response to him yet.

“You got LeBron, it’s going to be hard for his kids because they are going to look at them like, ‘You got to be just like your dad,’” Ball said on the “In The Zone Podcast with Chris Broussard. “And after a while, that pressure starts sitting on you like, ‘Why do I got to be just like him? What can’t I just be me?’ And then they are going to be like, ‘Aw, you’re soft, you’re not that good.’ Because the expectation is very, very high.”

James’ eldest son, LeBron James, Jr., has already garnered quite a bit of attention for his play, with his grassroots mixtapes getting millions of views.

Lonzo Ball’s UCLA team is set to play Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this week after Ball turned in an All-American freshman season that figures to end with an early selection in June’s NBA draft.

“I actually like his son,” James said. “I like his game.”

Lonzo’s game is something James respects, which obviously isn’t the case regarding his father’s comments.

“He can talk all about his brand, talk about his sons, talk about basketball, talk about me,” James said. “But keep my family out of this.”

UCLA has been dealing with the distraction of LaVar Ball’s comments all season, so it’s likely the Bruins will be able to shrug them off once more this week, but given the media crush that their game against Kentucky was going to engender anyway, having the likes of LeBron James enter the fray only acts as a multiplier to the questions that will be asked. Which isn’t even to mention the rampant speculation regarding coach Steve Alford potentially returning to coach his alma mater, Indiana.

It’s going to be an absolute circus around UCLA this week.

Then they’ve got to go play Kentucky.

LaVar Ball now has Markelle Fultz in his sights

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Markelle Fultz has now been drawn into the orbit of LaVar Ball.

The brash and bold father of UCLA star freshman Lonzo Ball advocated for his son to be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft over Fultz, a Washington freshman whom many have tabbed as the top pick.

“If you got a kid that makes everybody better, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t take him over a guy that’s averaging 40 points but the team’s losing?” Ball told TMZ. “If you wanna winner, you pick my boy.”

“Look what he did to UCLA. They 15-17 last year. You bring one dude and change the culture that’s what you want, it’s not Lonzo’s passing and shooting that’s his great gift, it’s the winning.”

Fultz 23 points, five rebounds and five assists this season for the Huskies, who had a 9-22 season that resulted in the firing of coach Lorenzo Romar. UCLA is a three seed with a matchup Sunday against Cincinnati for a Sweet 16 berth. Lonzo Ball is averaging 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game.

LaVar Ball has made it a habit to make headlines with talk about a $1 billion apparel deal for Lonzo and his two younger brothers, that he could have beaten Michael Jordan in his prime and a host of other bold statements.

LaVar Ball walks back statement on Lonzo’s Laker future

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The only person better at generating headlines than Lonzo Ball seems to be his father, LaVar. The elder Ball managed to do so again this weekend, once for saying something wild and then again for walking those comments back.

LaVar told KCUB Sports Radio 1290 in Arizona that UCLA star Lonzo would play for the Lakers and that he would discourage other teams from taking the stellar point guard at the top of the draft. Later, he said he was only posturing.

“I’m not trying to say he won’t play for a different team,” LaVar told ESPN. “But I’d like him to play for the Lakers because it’s home, and I’d love him to learn from Magic [Johnson]. He’s the best guard ever to me, and nobody better for Lonzo to learn from than Magic Johnson.”

Lonzo is averaging 14.8, 7.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Bruins, who stand at 26-3 on the season. He’s in the mix to be the potential No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.

LaVar has already stated on multiple occasions that Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Steph Curry of Golden State. He’s clearly supremely confident – and outspoken – about his son’s talent. With two younger sons, LaMelo and LiAngelo, set to soon begin their own college careers, LaVar’s exuberant proclamations may just be getting started.