Likely first round pick, UCLA’s Kevon Looney, declares for NBA draft

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UCLA’s Kevon Looney — an athletic 6’9″ player, projected as a small/stretch power forward at the NBA level — has decided to declare for the NBA draft.

Looney is a likely mid- to late first round pick. DraftExpress.com currently has him at No. 20.

Looney was named to the second-team all-Pac 12 this season, averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 boards, shooting 41.5 percent from three, for a UCLA team that was a surprise Sweet 16 team. (Heck, they were a surprise tournament team.)

Going later in the first round could be good for him because he might land with a good team who will take the time to develop him. Our man, Ed Isaacson of Rotoworld and NBADraftBlog, broke down Looney’s game for PBT.

Looney had an up and down season, but still finished the year almost averaging a double-double (11.6 pts, 9.2 rebs). He is much more of a prospect than player right now, but at 6’9 with at least a 7’3 wingspan, he uses his length well, especially on the boards. Right now, his best offense is a put back off an offensive rebound though he did hit 41% of his 53 three-point attempts. Looney has shown some flashes in everything from ballhandling to passing to scoring off the dribble; he just hasn’t figured out how to put it all together yet. There were quite a few offensive possessions, even late in the season, where he just didn’t know where he was supposed to be, and that lack of awareness has hindered him defensively as well. Looney has the tools to be a pretty good defender, especially his length and athleticism, but he still needs to develop a better understanding of how to defend, whether he is in the post or on the perimeter. As I mentioned, he is a good rebounder, and though there isn’t a lot of technique involved, he just goes hard after missed shots, and his length gave him some advantage at the college level. As a pro, getting stronger will be necessary, as well as learning how to play a bit more physical. It’s not really a negative, but with his tools, he probably should be a better shot-blocker than he is now, and hopefully that comes to him with some coaching. Taking Looney would be an acceptable risk somewhere in the mid-first round, though a situation where not much is expected of him quickly would probably be best. He’s going to need time to let his understanding of the game develop and catch up to his physical tools.