Kevon Looney, a member of the 2014-2015 UCLA men’s basketball team, declared for the NBA draft in April after completing his freshman season. Looney, who is projected as a lottery pick, led the nation’s freshman class with 15 double-doubles. In his one season at UCLA, he averaged 11.6 points a game and 9.2 rebounds. The Daily Bruin’s Rachel Scott spoke to Looney about his decision to leave UCLA, his preparation for the draft and what he feels he can bring to prospective NBA teams.
Daily Bruin: Why did you decide to leave UCLA early and declare for the draft?
Kevon Looney: I felt the time was right for me to enter the draft because I wanted to help support my family. My dream was always to play in the NBA. I had the chance to go the first round and I wanted to support my family, so I decided to go to live my dream.
DB: In anticipation for the draft, what have you been working on skillwise or physically?
KL: Just getting more explosive, getting stronger. And skillwise improving my shooting. Improving my overall game, working hard.
DB: A lot of your success has come from playing in the post. Have you been working on face-up, back-to-the-basket or pivot moves at all?
KL: Yes, its part of my warm-up, my everyday workout, so a lot of high-post stuff and working with my skills coach improving it.
DB: You averaged close to a double-double at UCLA. How do you think your skills will transfer to the NBA?
KL: I think my skills transfer pretty well. Usually rebounders in college always do well in the NBA, and I think I have the next month to prove that.
DB: Why do you think UCLA has been so successful in sending players to the NBA?
KL: UCLA is a great place to show your skills. They’ve got great player development there. A lot of players come in and get a lot better, get more mature. They’ve got a great strength coach, great skills coach there, so it’s a perfect setting to become an NBA player.
DB: Have you been working out with (former UCLA guard) Norman Powell, specific trainers or NBA players?
KL: Yes, I’ve been working with Norman, not any NBA players so far. Me and Norman, as well as another guy entering the draft, (former Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright).
DB: Are there any players you model your game after?
KL: My favorite players to watch are (New Orleans Pelicans power forward) Anthony Davis, (Oklahoma City Thunder small forward) Kevin Durant, (Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard) Kobe Bryant – those are my favorite players.
DB: Are you going to the draft?
KL: It looks like I will be attending – that’s my plan so far.
DB: Is there anything you are specifically looking forward to about attending the draft?
KL: Hearing my name get called, walking on stage, shaking the commissioner’s hand. Once I get called up, all my dreams come true.
DB: How have you progressed as a player since the season ended at UCLA?
KL: I think I got a lot stronger, focused on my jump shot. I think my conditioning and body got a lot better.
DB: Is there anything you learned at UCLA that you can take to the NBA?
KL: Just the work ethic. I learned a lot there at UCLA and I became a better shooter there. … I learned to play the game better. My IQ got a lot higher. Coach (Steve) Alford and (assistant) coach (Ed) Schilling taught me a lot about the game, so I can take that going forward.
DB: Have you been working out with any teams in particular?
KL: Not yet. I went to the NBA combine, met with 18 teams there. I’m going to start my workouts in the next couple weeks.
Compiled by Rachel Scott, Bruin Sports contributor.