UCLA Basketball: Jaylen Hands is getting hot at just the right time

TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 8: Dylan Smith
TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 8: Dylan Smith /

UCLA basketball’s Jaylen Hands is heating up at just the right time which could help the Bruins take some momentum into the postseason.

Let us face it, it has been a turbulent season for the UCLA basketball team. Their coach was fired, they have played underwhelmingly for most of the season, and they are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.

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Fortunately for them, the Bruins are coming together at the right time as they are following the lead of Jaylen Hands.

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It has been an up-and-down season for Hands but when he has shined, he has shined brightly. Consistency has been an issue for him and the Bruins, but they have been working hard to try and reel that in, especially in the last few weeks as UCLA has won three games in a row and were victorious in four of their last five games.

A big reason for this is the rise of Jaylen Hands.

Hands has been nothing short of phenomenal in recent weeks. On the season, the sophomore has averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 assists (11th in the nation), shot 41.3% from the field and 36.8% from behind the arc. Those numbers have jumped up significantly in the last four games: 22.0 ppg, 7.8 apg, a 47.4 field goal percentage, and a 43.2 three-point field goal percentage.

Two weeks ago, despite a loss, Hands put up 29 points against Stanford in a strong individual. Two games later, he used a 27-point second-half performance to help erase a 19-point deficit in a win against Oregon. Last week, Hands logged 21 points, 10 assists, and 0 turnovers against USC. That game ended with Hands hitting a long three in overtime to help seal the win over the Trojans.

This is the level of play that is required of a UCLA point guard. This is how they lift their team. This is how the Bruins can make a deep run in the postseason. Hands is peaking at just the right time and it is in both his and UCLA’s best interest.

It is no secret that he has aspirations for the NBA, especially since he tested the waters of the draft after last season, so his recent performance could be inspired by his desire to impress scouts. But maybe it is more than that. Maybe it is because he is finally growing into his role as a leader.

His ability to get the rest of his team involved has slowly been improving and is helping the Bruins in every facet of their game. With Hands controlling the flow, other players like Kris Wilkes, Moses Brown, and David Singleton have been able to shine and that, ultimately, is what UCLA needs.

Hands still has a few things to clean up, but the important thing is that right now he is playing the way the Bruins need him to play and if they keep this momentum up, it could help UCLA beat Colorado and Utah this week, which could help them get a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, which would give them an easy path to win the conference tourney and an invite to the NCAA Tournament.

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It is all about timing and Hands is lining things up perfectly. If he can stay hot in the next few weeks, we could see a whole new UCLA basketball team. Better ate than never.