Update on Hoops Practices

The hoops practices are closed, so we have an exclusive look at how the Bruins are doing in practice so far, player by player...

Josh Smith – Looks a bit trimmer and moves a little better. He's developed more skills around the basket, and it's clear he's far more advanced and comfortable in his defensive abilities. We're not much for hyperbole, but there isn't a player in the Pac-12 who will be able to handle him.

Reeves Nelson – Has had some attitude issues. His outside shot has improved, and there's talk to get him the ball more often away from the basket to try to draw his defender, because he is good taking a couple of bounces to the rack. He looks more refined around the basket.

David Wear, Travis Wear – Both have looked particularly good in practice, mostly because they play 100% all the time. As we've maintained, they're limited athletically, but they are big, strong, and skilled – and you have to keep repeating how hard they play. In fact, it's clear that Ben Howland is in love with the Wears, and that will give him options to go to if he has issues with Nelson. David has gotten practice time at the three, and you can see why – with so many bigs and so few guards on the roster, Howland needs another body there. But we'll see if David can defend the three, and make up for his lack of quickness with effort.

Tyler Lamb – Looks more lean physically and all-around improved. His shot is better, but is good at this point but not great. He will easily step into the role as the team's best defensive perimeter player. If he can just shoot in the mid-30s on threes he'll be a success this season.

Lazeric Jones – Every aspect of his game has improved. He looks more mature and refined. His shot is cleaner and quicker. He appears to be one of the best – if not the best – conditioned on the team.

Anthony Stover – It's a great situation for UCLA – to have perhaps the most dominating offensive post in the conference (Smith) going against perhaps the best defensive post in the conference in Stover. Stover is only going to get better going up against Smith every day. His offensive skills are still raw but they've improved a bit.

Jerime Anderson – Doesn't look much different. Body is about what it was last season, as are the skills.

Brendan Lane – Lane looks incrementally better – physically and skills-wise. It's strange because sometimes you think he's a third Wear when you look quickly.

Norman Powell – Easily the best athlete on the team. He's thrown down some dunks in practice so far that have the rest of the team buzzing, particularly a few over the bigs. His shot mechanics are still raw, with the trajectory different from shot to shot, seemingly, but the ball goes in. We'll see if it actually does in the games.

De'End Parker -- Haven't heard about him in practice since he sat out a few days with a knee injury. The word, though, is that Howland is very impressed with Parker's work ethic and attitude, and that he's a good athlete for his size, which is approaching 6-6. His shot is very raw and will need work.

Larry Drew – Has struggled a bit. This is a direct knock on North Carolina and Roy Williams: his fundamentals are under-developed. It's good he has a redshirt year to develop under Howland.

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