Friday, February 28

Former Bruin players take the court in NBA Summer League

Former Bruins T.J. Leaf and Bryce Alford – along with Aaron Holiday – are playing for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Summer League, while Thomas Welsh is suiting up for the Denver Nuggets. (Daily Bruin file photo)

The Bruins are well-represented in the NBA Summer League this July.

Three members of UCLA men’s basketball’s 2017 Sweet Sixteen squad played together for the first time in over a year Friday, this time with the Indiana Pacers. Indiana lost to the Houston Rockets 92-89, while the trio of former Bruins – T.J. Leaf, Aaron Holiday and Bryce Alford – scored a combined 30 points.

Former UCLA guard Holiday scored 23 points in his summer league debut in Las Vegas two weeks after being drafted by the Pacers with the No. 23 pick in the NBA Draft.

The All-American reunited with former teammates Leaf – who was the Pacers’ first-round pick in 2017 – and Alford. Former UCLA guard Alford went undrafted last year but played in the NBA G League with the Oklahoma City Blue in the 2017-2018 season.

The son of UCLA men’s basketball coach Steve Alford averaged 13.6 points per game in his 105 games as a starter at UCLA. In his first professional season, Bryce Alford scored 15.5 points per game and shot 40.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Former UCLA forward Leaf went one-and-done with the Bruins in 2017 after coming to Westwood as a five-star recruit and averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game that season. In his first year as a Pacer, the former Bruin averaged 2.9 points per game and shot 42.9 percent from 3 in 8.7 minutes per game.

Leaf started at center for Indiana and shot 2-of-14, scoring 4 points and pulling down 10 boards. Alford came off the bench and attempted one shot, but he made the most of it as it was an and-one he would complete at the free-throw line.

Leaf and Holiday flip-flopped when the Pacers beat the San Antonio Spurs 86-76 on Saturday, as Leaf scored 17 points shooting over 50 percent from the field, while Holiday scored 10 points on 20 percent field-goal shooting. Alford scored 3 points off the bench again, this time on 1-of-6 shooting.

Former UCLA center Thomas Welsh made his summer league debut this week as well. Welsh was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the third-to-last pick of the draft.

The Nuggets squeezed out a 1-point victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, with Welsh scoring 5 points and reeling in three rebounds as the team’s starting center.

The seven-footer also hit a 3-pointer, something he added to his repertoire between his junior and senior seasons at UCLA. He shot 40.2 percent from three while recording 3.4 attempts per game during the 2017-2018 season, averaging 12.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game en route to a second-team All-Pac-12 nod.

Welsh did not play in his team’s game Saturday due to a shoulder injury, but he was still able to contribute to his team. When his teammate Vlatko Cancar went down with an injury of his own, Welsh was the first Nugget to go and help him up.

The Nuggets and Pacers both get back on the court Monday after having a day off Sunday.

Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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