Those who follow college basketball closely already know about UCLA's bouncy freshman guard Zach LaVine.
The former ESPN 100 recruit stands at 6-foot-5, 180-pounds, and his length, quickness and top-shelf athleticism have already caught the eye of NBA scouts. Could the Bruins' freshman be a one-and-done? According to the latest update by ESPN's NBA draft expert Chad Ford, that looks like a distinct possibility. On Tuesday, Ford explained why the UCLA freshman is rising up the draft board.
LaVine has moved up to No. 12 on the Big Board, putting him ahead of players like Kentucky's James Young (No. 13), Florida's Chris Walker (No. 14), Louisville's Montrezl Harrell (No. 15) and Syracuse's Jerami Grant (No. 16). It's worth noting, too, that, the smooth combo guard is ranked ahead of highly regarded teammates Kyle Anderson (No. 43) and Jordan Adams (No. 36)
That's how much of an early impression LaVine has made.
The season is young, but if LaVine can continue to score and impact the game throughout Pac-12 play like he has so far, he could have a good chance to get selected higher in the 2014 draft than UCLA's high-profile swingman Shabazz Muhammad did in 2013 (No. 14).
Here's Ford with more.
"LaVine is an explosive, 6-foot-5 combo guard who is both an incredible athlete and a polished scorer. He's averaging 14 PPG, shooting 64 percent from the field, 57 percent from 3-point range, and he's sporting a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. And he's doing all of this coming off the bench for UCLA for 25 minutes per night. NBA scouts love big, athletic point guards, and LaVine appears to have all of the qualities a scout could look for. He has weaknesses, though: He needs to add strength, and he still can focus too much on scoring instead of distributing the ball (especially when he's playing at the 2, which is where he's seeing most of his minutes this season). Still, given his age, those are minor complaints. UCLA sophomores Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson are also drawing early raves as potential first-rounders, but it has been LaVine who scouts claim should be in the lottery discussion right now. When a few scouts call him 'Russell Westbrook with a jump shot,' you have to start paying attention."