David and Travis Wear have gotten a raw deal since they came to UCLA. Both 6’10”, 230 lbs. forwards have been subject to ridicule and lambasting by the UCLA fan base the last few years. This season, it is time to step up and show the twins “Wear” the love is.
When UCLA got news that the twin big men from Mater Dei were correcting their college path from the University of North Carolina to UCLA, many applauded the get, by then head coach, Ben Howland. The appeal was that the Bruins were going to have two athletic big guys banging the boards each night, which would have eventually lead UCLA to a National Championship (kind of). That is not quite how it worked out.
Last year made it clear, as certain Sports Illustrated articles did (and just by merely looking at Howland’s substitutions and rotations) that favoritism was a key component to the usage of the Wears. Through many games, the Wears were overused and by the end, ran out of gas to finish several contests.
It is not the Wear’s fault.
Look, they did what any player does when a coach gives them an order… they did it. If you have ever played on a team, you know that if a coach asks you to do something, you do it. Everything the Wears have done has been for the four letters on the front of their jersey. They have done it for you… UCLA.
From a basketball stand point, the Wears are a blessing and a curse (in a way). Getting two 6’10” kids is great for any program, but fans missed the mark on the abilities the Wears do have. They are two shooting big men that have a sweet mid-range shot and can at times hit baskets from behind the arc.
What they are not are two big men that can get down and dirty under the basket with some of the stronger centers and power forwards in college basketball. Howland tried to counter this by bringing in some other big men to fill that void. As we know, they were used sparingly, leading them to transfer (Josh Smith) or waiting to transfer (Tony Parker).
Seriously, let us chalk this up to bad usage and development. *Author’s Note: The author nearly cried when Smith stated he was transferring and requests no bad mouthing of the current Georgetown Hoya who is playing nearly twenty minutes a game and scoring a career-high 11.5 points per game. You have been warned.
Anyway, in the absence of a true center, the Wears were forced to take a beating at that position and it wore on them every night. Even though Travis Wear was a force, in his own way, at the end of last season, it was too much for the both of them and the Bruins.
Enter the new UCLA coaching regime.
The Bruins now play a fast brand of basketball. Under new coach Steve Alford, UCLA is utilizing the skills of each player and not forcing them into positions they are not comfortable with or use to. Add to that the increased use of Parker (and occasionally Wanaah Bail) and you have two Wears that fit in a system of basketball better suited for their skill set.
It is understood that UCLA’s centers have not panned out for the Bruins, which has forced the Wears into situations they were not prepared for. But you can see how this new style of game UCLA plays is not destroying the Wears either. It is not on them anymore to create offense. Being surrounded by the likes of offensive weapons such as Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and the “Freshman Highlight Reel” Zach LaVine takes that off the Wears.
David and Travis do not get double-doubles every night, but they are doing what players in their position need to do for their team. For example, congratulations to David Wear who was an all-around pest to Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski, disallowing the best big man in the Pac-12 to do any sustainable damage.
And what about Travis Wear? This guy had appendicitis right before the season and missed the first few games, but now he is in the starting line-up because he is getting his work done. Look, these kids have basketball knowledge and they are doing what they can to contribute to the most storied college basketball program in history. So, thank you, Wears.
Can you imagine what they would be like if a coach had handled their development properly since they were freshmen? The NBA lottery, that’s where! (A bit if a stretch, but so what? Write your own article if you disagree.)
At this point, UCLA is lucky to have both of these guys fighting for the Bruins. They are good kids trying to do the best they can. They have never have never publicly complained. They have not gotten into any trouble that has got them negative publicity. They have never sent out questionable tweets (do they even have Twitter accounts?). All they have done is play Bruin basketball. Respect.