LOS ANGELES – UCLA head coach Steve Alford addressed members of the media in his weekly media session on Thursday afternoon, prior to practice. The Bruins’ head coach spoke about the signing of seniors Kevon Looney (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Gyorgy Goloman (Szombathely, Hungary) to National Letters of Intent. Looney and Goloman will enroll at UCLA in the fall of 2014 and compete as freshmen in 2014-15. Coach Alford also provided an injury update and discussed where UCLA can improve after its first two regular season contests.
UCLA head coach Steve Alford's remarks (Nov. 14, 2013)
on improving early in the regular season
“We still have a long ways to go. We have improved in some areas. We still have a long way to go in most of those areas. But the key in game one to game two is improvement, and we did see some improvement especially at what we want to do defensively. We are such a long way from being the defensive team that we want to be, but we saw a conscious effort in trying to correct some of the things we did poorly and correcting those in the Oakland game.”
on signing high school seniors Kevon Looney and Gyorgy Goloman
“They bring a lot in size. They are great individuals who are winners. Kevon is one of the best players in the country in his class. He is very versatile and we love guys with versatility. He is nearly 6-foot-10 now, so he is going to be able to do a lot of things for us on both sides, in how he guards and how we use him offensively. And then GG is one of those guys, 6-9 to 6-9 and a half who adds to our depth in the frontcourt. He can really run. He’s somebody who is very athletic who can really run the floor. And that’s the pace that we want to play. He’s also one of the best passing big men who we have seen in a long time. So it’s a good start because I think if you look at our class, the 2014 class, the emphasis has been on size. To have added two guys who are upwards 6-9 already, that’s a good start to our class.
on recruiting nationally and locally
“We have spent a lot of time here in this area and offered a great number of kids, and hopefully that’s going to break as well. Getting Isaac [Hamilton] obviously helps. Isaac will be tremendous for us once he’s eligible to play. So, I think that at UCLA you’ve got to do it and it’s not just national and GG is from Hungary, so it’s global. We are going to continue to recruit global. I think that at UCLA you want to get not just the best player or talent, but the quality of player and quality of student who understands UCLA. So this is a great start to that class.
on the coaching staff’s first time they saw Gyorgy Goloman play
“We saw him, I don’t know exact dates, but it wouldn’t been in the early fall and late summer when he got over. We saw a skillset. Somebody who is 6-foot-9 with an incredible skillset. He can really run the floor, like I said, his passing ability is like we haven’t seen in a long, long time. He can shoot the ball from the three-point line. I think that he’ll end up being a shot blocker as he gains strength and weight. But he is somebody who gives us depth at the forward position who really has a good IQ. He has played against older guys, being on the Hungarian junior national team and playing on world university teams. So that experience and playing at that level really helped with our eval.”
on what the coaching staff did to secure a commitment from Kevon Looney
“Just building the relationship. I think we hit it off very well from the beginning with building that relationship. He’s somebody who is a big Laker fan and big Kobe fan. So he likes the L.A. area, and I think he liked what he saw at UCLA. He liked his teammates. Our guys do a great job of presenting our program the way it should be presented. Guys are honest and they’re up front and they do a good job of getting to know people on their visits. You look at all that plus the tradition and everything else and the things that we have tried to sell him on what we are trying to do. He thought that was a really good fit. We are very excited about it. Not only is he very talented, but I think he really fits the mold as far as what we want as a person.
on Kevon Looney attracting other talented players to UCLA
“I think anytime you get somebody like Kevon, there has got to be a lot of people who want to play with Kevon Looney. He’s a special player and a special kid. He’s one of those guys who is easy to play with, so yeah you hope that that sends a message.
on conveying that message in recruiting, to have “five-star” Kevon at UCLA
“I don’t know if we have ever said five star, you guys might pay attention to stars more than I do, but we have just talked about having two quality players in GG and obviously Kevon, with more people on the national scene knowing who he is. They know that. I mean, today kids are now setting their own press conferences. So they know where kids are going. But what we do in recruiting is that we told you we’d get – high-quality kids and high-quality students and high-quality talent, and that’s what is happening. It just solidifies and validates what we have been telling recruits all along.”
on looking to add size to next season’s incoming class
“We lose both Wears. So when you lose both Wears, you’re talking about two 6-foot-210, 235 guys. Not just size, but they are fifth-year guys. I think we hope to add more size to this class. Isaac is now, unless something happens to his eligibility, he falls into the 2013 class, which has had good guards in it. Size has been our biggest focus. This is a good start but we are not done.”
on filling out the ongoing early signing period
“Well, we still have five or six days here. We are working as hard as we can to add more names to that list.”
UCLA’s injury update
“Noah is in surgery right now. He has got three fractures just below his eye. We don’t know a timetable yet. Hopefully things are going well with his surgery. We will know a timetable once he is out of surgery. But it was a lot worse than we thought when it actually happened. A team that is already depleted up front just got more depleted. We do hope to have Travis [Wear] back. We are hopeful that things go well as we progress with what he does in practice this week. He will be no-contact today and hopefully become contact as we get closer to the weekend. We are hopeful that we will have him for Monday’s game, but we are not for sure yet. Wanaah [Bail] is still, we don’t know exact timetable. But he is starting to do more and more and the leg is responding very well. Each week, we are just continuing to progress that. We are hoping to have him in the next, maybe, 10 to 14 days.”
on the specifics of Noah Allen’s facial injury
"Last 30 seconds of the game. Almost the last play. Good credit to his toughness, he hung in there and made both free throws. As we know now, he made two free throws with some fractures to his face. I like that kind of toughness.”