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UCLA head coach Steve Alford spoke to reporters on a conference call Thursday morning (June 27). Below is the complete transcription of his remarks from the question and answer session.

UCLA head coach Steve Alford

on his reaction to Zach, Jordan and Kyle all being selected in the first round
“Well, we are very excited for the young men. These are three young men that worked extremely hard for us. They bought in to our new program being here as first-year coaches at UCLA. They just did a tremendous job of laying our foundation and doing everything that we asked and worked extremely hard. It’s great to see them and their families happy, and having a situation like they are experiencing now is an awful lot of fun. And obviously, it’s terrific for our program to have three guys go in the first round. We were hoping Dave and Trav [Wear] might make the second round, but with that said, I think that they will get in summer leagues and be able to prove themselves as well because they are outstanding players.”

on why it makes sense for Kyle Anderson to land with San Antonio
“Well, tremendous franchise when you talk about all the franchises in the NBA. You ask anybody, and San Antonio is probably one of the first ones out of everybody’s mouths. So, for Kyle to get selected there, I think he is in a perfect situation. Coach Popovich and his staff do an incredible job with utilizing talent. Kyle has a very special skillset where he can play a lot of different positions. But I think why he really fits that program is he’s got an incredible basketball IQ. He really understands how to play the game, and I think that will be a great fit.”

on what Kyle Anderson still needs to improve upon
“Well, like everybody coming out of college, and learning to play at that level – the pace at which you have to defend and play in 82 plus games, you know, after exhibition games and then playoff games, you are in excess of 100 games, where most of these kids are playing somewhere between 30 and 40. So, it’s just that grind of understanding how to adjust to the incredible pace at both ends and the pace of your lifestyle. It’s just different. But as far as skillset, he is ready to jump into that level, skillset-wise.”

on Kyle Anderson developing the nickname “Slow Mo” and playing fast or slow
“I think the Slow Mo – again, it’s just me, I’ve been here for just one year with him – but to me, it’s because he has the incredible ability to slow the game down and it’s about making the right play at the right time. I’ve never thought it’s because he plays slow. He used to shoot the ball a little bit slow, but he really worked on that in the offseason. He had a great year this year for us shooting the basketball at nearly 50 percent from three. He had a little bit of a slow release, and he really worked on that. But I think that a lot of people kind of say that just because – he always makes the right play. There are not a lot of players who have the ability to take a really fast game and, in their mind, slow it to where they can make the right decisions all the time and he does that so well.”

on previous comparisons between Kyle’s game and that of Boris Diaw
“Yeah, yeah, possibly could. The one difference, I mean there are all kinds of differences whether it’s in Boris’ game or his game, but he does have the unique ability to be a point guard at 6-9 with an incredible wingspan. He has the ability offensively, in particular, to run the show. And there have not been a lot of those guys at that size to be able to do that. “

on anything about Kyle Anderson that might surprise people in San Antonio
“No, it’s not a surprise. I think it’s a terrific fit. It’s an incredibly-winning program. They understand winning at every level of the organization. They are getting somebody that competes on every possession. I think that’s what the staff is going to like, the organization is going to like and the fans are going to like. You’ve got not only an individual with a very good skillset, but every day in practice, at every one of our games, every minute that he played, he just doesn’t take plays off. He does a great job of competing to win in everything that he does. And I think that the fans of San Antonio are really going to appreciate that.”

on his first impressions of Kyle, a guy who may not have the most athletic body
“It’s always about how you spin, whether it’s individual’s programs or that kind of thing, but with him you’ve got somebody with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, somebody that can play the point and has as I mentioned before, as good a basketball IQ as I have coached. I think that sometimes people get wrapped up on athleticism and being able to jump over the backboard, but do you understand how to play the game? Kyle understands how to play the game. He is not going to San Antonio having to learn how to play the game. We saw that right from the beginning. We could play him at the one. We could play him at the stretch four. He just understands how to play. He understands how to win, and he has done that his whole career.”

on whether Zach LaVine heading to the Minnesota Timberwolves is a suitable fit
“I don’t know a whole lot about the Timberwolves’ organization or what they have, but obviously I am excited for Zach. I think it’s a great fit. He has incredible athleticism, very quick individual that can get end to end very fast. So, I think it’s a situation to where he is very young and he will grow each year. I think he will continue to get better and better as he gets more reps. But he is somebody that we are very excited about, to be able to be a lottery pick and have the chance to play at that level this early in his career is a great tribute to him.”

on whether he thought Zach would be a lottery pick when Zach arrived at UCLA last June
“No, I don’t think you ever think that. The NBA, it’s a whole different level and mindset. I know that when we saw him last summer and worked him, he had incredible athleticism, working into his role and what he wanted to do, somebody who wanted to run the floor and play that shooting guard position. This is something that he really wanted to do, and we felt like he could do it really well because of his ability to shoot the basketball, and he did that. He really did that well for us until late into the season. Other than that, he was really, really consistent for us. But to say that we saw him being a lottery pick last summer, no, I think it was one of those things. He came in and he used the brand and this system. I’ve always said, it’s a very, very powerful brand, and I think that our style of play of getting up and down the floor like that allows somebody to flourish, and he had a tremendous freshman year.”

on whether having multiple UCLA players on the Timberwolves’ roster is a positive for Zach
“Well, yeah. I think if you look at a lot of programs, that’s why I’m very blessed to be here at UCLA. There’s a vast number of NBA teams that can say they have had a lot of Bruins. There have just been a lot of Bruins who’ve made it to the NBA. So, obviously, we have had our share there with Minnesota. And the majority of the UCLA guys have had a lot of success. Whether it’s Zach or Jordan or Kyle, we fully anticipate all three of them having very successful pro careers.”

on Kyle Anderson’s possibly being underrated as a defensive player
“I think that potentially, he has that ability. At 6-9, and with a long wingspan and his ability to compete – you know, what he lacks and what wants to be ranked out as this great athlete or not great athlete – he way makes up for it in his ability to think the game and know angles and know positioning on the floor. He is one of those guys who is in the right spot at the right time. He just, he has a great feel. I’ve always said that he and Jordan have tremendous feels to their game. And you’re going to have to do it if you are in [Coach] Pop’s organization and franchise and want to play, then you have got to be committed at both ends. And I think he’ll do that because he’ll do whatever it takes to not just play, but to help a team win.”

on whether he had any prior indication that San Antonio would select Kyle
“No, I don’t think so. I think all teams kind of reached out to us. It’s been a crazy couple of months. Everybody has been doing their due diligence. You never know where guys are going to fall. Guys go earlier. Guys get passed up. You just never know kind of where that is going to fall. But for one, I think it’s a tremendous break for the Spurs to get somebody like this at 30. It’s a tremendous break. And I think that it’s a win-win for Kyle because for him to go to a franchise like San Antonio, I don’t know how he could ask for anything better.”

on whether he had reached out to Kyle after the NBA Draft
“Oh yeah, he is very, very excited. I talked to him again this morning. He is just extremely excited. You know, a lot of these guys have been working out and doing all of this travel and workouts for everybody for the last two months. So, it’s been draining and you get very tired. So, to have the elation last night of knowing not only are you in the first round, but you’re a member of the world champion San Antonio Spurs, it’s I’m sure one of the best feelings of his life and he is very, very excited about getting down there.”

on what piece of advice he would give Kyle as he begins his NBA career
“No, to be who he is. And I told him this morning, you don’t change who you are. But, you’ve got to take advantage of going to a franchise and an organization that really gets it, from the bottom all the way to the top. They really understand it. Listen, listen to people. You have always been coachable. Make sure that you stay that way. And then pay attention to the vets. You’ve got incredible veterans on that team who can really help you. So, make sure you get to know them as quickly as you can and to be around them for as much as you can to learn as much as you can. He’s in a really good situation for that.

on how Jordan’s game will translate to the next level, with respect to his athleticism
“Well, again, I think that athleticism is way overrated, for the most part. You can either play or you can’t play. And Jordan really understands how to play. You can give me the most athletic guy that we played against collegiately here this year, and Jordan probably outplayed him because of being smarter and being tougher. He is very physical. He is one of the most physical guards I’ve had the opportunity to coach. He has really worked on his body here in the last two, two and a half months. He’s gotten himself into great shape. But again, it’s his basketball IQ. He knows how to play. You’re talking about somebody who is going to break, pretty much, every steal record at UCLA and the Pac-12 had he stayed four years. It’s not because of blinding athleticism or speed. It’s because he knows how to play. He’s in the right spot at the right time and he does those same things offensively in a lot of ways. He is a big guard who can post. He is a guard who can run in transition and knock down threes. He can come off screens and shoot the basketball. He can drive it. He led us with free throw attempts this year. He just has a really good knack and feel of how to play the game.

on any players with Memphis that could be particularly helpful for Jordan Adams
“I’ve known Mike Miller for a long time. His brother Ryan was on my staff at New Mexico. So, to have an opportunity to get with Mike, who has been one of the better shooters in the NBA over his long career, he has had a long career, a great career, and being a big guard himself, I think there is a lot of things that Mike can share with Jordan that can really really help him, not just short-term, but what all these guys want to do. First, it’s about getting there. And then the hard part is about staying there. So, they have gone over one hurdle of being a draft pick and getting into the NBA. Now, the next order of business is how can I stay there and make it a career? And Mike has done that and had an unbelievable career. Hopefully one of the guys that he can reach out to is Mike, because Mike can get him a lot of good advice.

on any players with Minnesota that could help mentor a young player such as Zach
“Well, we’ve got a Bruin there, obviously in [Kevin] Love. So, that’s somebody who can help him immediately. Like I said, I don’t know their roster and organization as well as I know Memphis and San Antonio. But, I know that would be a person that I would reach out. Because for one, he’s been at UCLA and he is a West Coast guy. He knows kind of what the feel has been in college. Staying one year in college and then going to the NBA and now being with Minnesota, I think there are a lot of things that he can share with Zach that are going to help him.”

on speculation based on Zach’s initial reaction that he was not happy with the selection
“Yeah, to be honest with you, I think that was way overblown. Just looking into it and reading. I didn’t sense that at all. I think it was Zach just being Zach. He was in awe. He’s a 19-year old that, you know, two months ago was finishing up his freshman year at UCLA and now his name – Zach is a gym rat. Zach is a guy that really follows basketball. I’m sure that over the last 10 years, he has watched the NBA Draft and all those names being called. Now, all of a sudden, when it is your name being called, you are just – not only are you overjoyed, but this feeling of ‘I can’t believe my name is being’ – it was a very humble thing. I think that people read into it differently. But, in my opinion and knowing Zach, that was a very humble reaction by Zach. And he is extremely fired up to be with Minnesota and get his career going.”

 


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