Although practices are closed this season, and the coaches' mouths are even more closed, nevertheless BRO has done some snooping using the latest technology (asking everyone we can find who will actually talk to us) and come up with some general impressions of the first 10 days or so of practice and the current state of the team.
Who's Standing Out?
Reports are that Dan Gadzuric has been a monster so far early in practice and, in that regard, the early surprise of the practice sessions. Shooting, scoring, rebounding, blocking shots, defending, running the floor, dominating often, the whole nine yards (What are the "whole nine yards" anyway? It takes ten yards to get a first down, doesn't it?).
Cedric Bozeman has been outstanding running the club. He's had a few moments (just a few) when he doesn't register a lot in the stats department, but the whole team seems to work in all the right ways when he's in the game.
As expected, Jason Kapono, Matt Barnes and Billy Knight are all playing like they are going to keep their starting jobs and have very strong years. Of course, practice just started, so they better keep playing well. Matt has been showing real improvement in the free throw department and is scoring going both to his left and right. Jason and Billy are shooting the 3 really well. What a surprise!
T.J.Cummings has been inconsistent, sometimes playing okay, sometimes very well, but right now he's not threatening the starters. He's trying to be a lot more creative and aggressive on offense. Dijon Thompson is in the same situation, sometimes very good, sometimes just okay, though Dijon has been slowed a little by a minor injury. Ray Young has been consistently very good, and might be the closest to the top 5 right now of anyone else on the team; he's shooting the ball very well and contributing a lot as a playmaker and rebounder. Andre Patterson has been up and down, as expected, but his ups aren't as high as TJ's or Dijon's. Same for Jon Crispin. Rico Hines has been very solid all around, nothing flashy, perhaps the most obvious emotional leader on the floor.
Ryan Walcott, who has missed some time with a minor injury, has shown improvement, showing quickness, outside shooting and playmaking skills, and Josiah Johnson has had some strong moments on the offensive end. It's too early to say whether they will see time this year on such a deep club, but improvement is there for both of the redshirt freshmen.
On the recruiting front, UCLA commit Evan Burns, 6-7 SF/PF Los Angeles (CA) Fairfax, the #13-ranked player by TheInsiders.com, reportedly is doing well academically. He still needs to complete a fair amount of core classes this year, but he has solid grades in his core classes to date. If he does as well in the rest of his core classes, more than likely Burns will meet the NCAA (and UCLA) standards on his class work, and it will then be a question of his standardized test.