UCLA men’s basketball has one senior on the roster: Larry Drew II. His story, although duplicated by the Wear twins, is not common. Drew was a highly rated recruit out of southern California powerhouse Taft High School. He was a McDonalds All-American in 2008 and won the McDonalds 3-point shooting contest.
The next four years haven’t been as great for Drew.
After heading across country and enrolling at the University of North Carolina, Larry Drew II was part of the 2009 national championship team at UNC. However, he was behind start point guard Ty Lawson and only played sparingly.
As a sophomore, Drew took over the starting point guard position. Although he showed flashes of very good play as a sophomore, UNC struggled and Drew only shot 40% from the field.
The following year, he was replaced in the starting lineup midseason after seeing his playing time diminish. Ultimately, he decided it wasn’t too late to head home. Drew transferred to UCLA and enrolled in classes on March 28, 2012.
After sitting out last season due to NCAA rules, Drew is now eligible and looking to finish an up and down career on a high mark. What he brings to the Bruins is what they have lacked since the departure of Darren Collison to the NBA in 2009- speed. Larry is blazing fast with or without the ball. He is a good ball handler and a good passer. At 6-2 180 pounds with unbelievable lateral quickness, Larry fits exactly what Head Coach Ben Howland looks for in a defensive point guard. Although he was inconsistent at North Carolina, his assist numbers were always solid and it will be key for him to find the playmakers in the Bruins’ offense. With UCLA looking to run more this year than ever under Howland, Drew will be vital.
According to all reports, Drew will be the starter at point guard when the Bruins tip off the season November 9th at Pauley Pavilion. Kyle Anderson, if/when he is cleared by the NCAA, is expected to handle the ball a lot, as well. Even with both in the lineup and the ball in Anderson’s hands, Drew is a serious threat to any opposing defense. His three point shooting is solid, and most importantly, his on-ball defense is very good.
Finding consistency will be the key for the Bruins and for Larry in 2012-2013. With a young team, including a slew of talented freshman, but also a core of experienced juniors, Larry might be the most important piece to the Bruins puzzle. If he struggles early in the season, Kyle Anderson or Normal Powell may take over at point guard. If he thrives on both ends of the ball, the Bruins will likely make a deep run in March.