Norman Powell was a name not many people recognized when the UCLA Bruins played in the NCAA tournament last season. A lot has changed for the junior guard since then: a coaching switch, being re-recruited to stay in Westwood and overall, having a damn fine season. It is a season full of dunks, defense, dunks, hustle, dunks, grit and even more dunks. Now he is looking to use those talents to help #4 UCLA get by the #1 Florida Gators in the Sweet 16.
In this year’s tourney, Powell is a name that the opposition will need to plan against. You can guarantee he has the attention of Florida head coach Billy Donovan and the entire Gator team.
In his first two years, Powell did not get a lot of playing time under former coach Ben Howland. He was never really allowed to fully display his skills either. Things have changed with new coach Steve Alford who is running a system beneficial to each of his player’s strengths, especially Powell.
In his third year, Powell started every game and is one of the top three scorers on the Bruins behind Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. He also also pretty good going to the rim.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 24, 2014
Watch Normal Powell perform slam dunk. http://t.co/hA2M4JIyIn
— Dexter Fishmore (@dexterfishmore) March 22, 2014
So now teams are going to plan against Powell. It’s not just his numbers and the scoring that should scare most coaches, but his overall athleticism. Since he has been in Westwood, it is always been noted that he is the most athletic player on the team, but we never actually got to see it. Now with this fast-paced type of basketball from Alford, Powell is flourishing.
Here is the thing, it is not just his high-flying dunks that have gotten attention, it is his role as a tough-minded basketball player. Just like his team has done at the right moment, he is peaking and that is good for the Bruins. One of the things that UCLA lacked all season was an identity, well the post-season has given them one and Powell is the exclamation point. Go Bruins!