Thursday, March 7, 2013
Drew II the Pac-12's best?
By Luke Lapinski
It's been an up and down year for UCLA -- and that's probably putting it mildly. Some projected the Bruins to be a Final Four team when the season tipped off, banking on the nation's top crop of incoming freshman to do something magical. But a loss to Cal Poly took some of the shine off the 2012-13 campaign early on, Joshua Smith left, Tony Parker -- the No. 26 recruit in his class -- has struggled to make his presence felt as a freshman and last night's defeat at the hands of Washington State symbolized some of the inconsistencies this group continues to face.
That said, the Bruins are still an NCAA Tournament team, still reside near the very top of the Pac-12 and are still a young team with upside that figures to get better as they gain postseason experience -- both in the conference tourney and the Big Dance itself. The longer they can keep playing, the more dangerous they become. And it's a safe bet no one really wants to face a gamebreaker like Shabazz Muhammad in a one-and-done scenario.
It's the player running the show in Westwood that has caught the eye of our own Jay Bilas though. Larry Drew II has done a commendable job keeping everything together from the point guard position on this young team, dishing out 7.8 assists per game -- No. 3 in the country -- while also chipping in with 7.3 points and 1.5 steals per game as well. That's the resume of the Pac-12 Player of the Year, according to Bilas, who also notes Drew's defensive contributions and general leadership skills as a stabilizing force that has helped Ben Howland's club immensely this season.