Amidst a head coaching search going nowhere, the UCLA basketball program got some much-needed good news on Friday afternoon.
According to a report from the Orange County Register, star point-forward Kyle Anderson is not planning to declare for the NBA draft, and will intsead return to Westwood for his sophomore season. The update comes by way of a text message from Anderson’s father, which was brief but to the point.
“At this time, Kyle is returning to UCLA.”
Obviously, a succinct, eight-word message is no guarantee, but it appears that Anderson has decided a second-round pick isn’t enough for him to come out of college just yet.
The 6’9″, 235-pound freshman out of Fairview, N.J. was a huge reason for the Bruins’ moderate success in 2013, leading the team in rebounding (8.6 RPG) and chipping in 9.7 points and 3.5 assists per game. Had it not been for Anderson’s work on the boards, UCLA would not have won the Pac-12 regular season title—it’s that simple.
With the graduation of point guard Larry Drew II, it would appear Anderson is poised to have the ball in his hands a lot next season. And if his freshman go-around was any indication, Anderson should have a standout sophomore campaign at the helm of the Bruins’ offense. With sharpshooter Jordan Adams returning from injury, and an incoming freshman class with some talented wings, Anderson’s worth as the facilitator cannot be overstated.
If David and Travis Wear can step up in their seniors seasons, and big man Tony Parker can take the next step in his development, UCLA could have a very successful season in 2014. There are still plenty of rumors swirling about Parker’s inevitable transfer, but the firing of head coach Ben Howland could be reason enough for him to stick around. The same goes for rising junior guard Norman Powell, who could see a major boost in minutes under the new regime next season.
But no matter what happens with the others, Anderson’s presence on the team next year will be pivotal. If his dad’s text message proves true, the Bruins have lucked out by getting another year out of the scintillating swingman named “Slow-Mo.”
The official NCAA deadline to declare either way is April 16, so we will know for certain whether Anderson will stay or go soon enough. And while most have tabbed teammate Shabazz Muhammad as a surefire one-and-done, nothing is certain at this point. Bringing KA back is a huge win for the eventual new UCLA coach, but Muhammad returning would give the Bruins plenty of reason for celebration. Again, all our questions will be answered on or before the 16th, so speculation is pretty pointless as of now.