Rick Kimbrel, the former managing editor of PrepStar magazine, is nationally recognized as one of the leading authorities on college football recruiting. The veteran analyst and reporter was key in first making Blue Chip Illustrated and then PrepStar Magazine a recruiting publication standard.
Kimbrel has written for CBS Sportsline, ESPN.com, CNN-SI, The Sporting News, Athlon's, Lindy's, Football News, and numerous other publications. He has also consulted on All-America teams for Parade Magazine and Street and Smith's. Most recently, Rick was the West Coast Recruiting Editor for Rivals.com, national recruiting consultant for Rivals.com and publisher of BruinBlitz.com.
Rick has been a featured guest on many television shows around the nation including Prime Ticket, Fox Sports, Fox Sports West, CNN, CNN-SI and numerous local and regional stations. Kimbrel is also a highly sought after guest on radio broadcasts from coast-to-coast.
All good things must come to an end and so for the Bruins the season is finished. One of UCLA (31-5) basketball’s most entertaining season’s, came to its conclusion falling to No.2 Kentucky (32-5), 86-75. The Bruins didn’t play up to their standards and you’re to going to beat the Wildcats if not at your best.
UCLA shot the ball well, but when they made breaks on the defensive end for some odd reason, they weren’t able to convert into points. There was one stretch in the first half when the Bruins didn’t get one shot off, five straight times down the floor.
The Bruins finished the game hitting 52.7 percent from the field, but their 13 turnovers leading to 14 Wildcat points was too much for UCLA to overcome. In contrast, UCLA only scored two points off of turnovers. Kentucky also outscored the Bruins 15-8 on second chance points.
“Well, we knew it was a tough draw,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “Somebody that was really good wasn't going to win this game in advance. I'm just really proud of our basketball team.”
Alford had all the reason in the world to be proud of this group of young men. This UCLA team never quit. They played hard every game. There is a reason Bruin basketball became one of the hottest tickets in Los Angeles this season.
Not only was it a fun brand of basketball to watch, but the players were highly likable.
“I've been in the locker room telling them that, that I've been doing this 26 years, and to have a group of young men, and it starts obviously with my two seniors that have just had brilliant careers, not just on the court, but how they've grown as young men, which is what the college experience is supposed to be all about,” Alford said. “What they've done for us in the community, what they've done in the classroom, how they've represented UCLA in every way, shape or form has been magnificent.”
“I really think these two seniors, and then the team as a whole have taken us coaches -- sometimes there's coaches that maybe can take a group of young men on a journey that's fun. This year was definitely a group of young men that took coaches for a great journey. We started blending this thing back in June, coming off a tough year last year after two Sweet 16s, and to get back to the Sweet 16 and win 31 games, I told the guys, that was one thing, and obviously winning is fun, but how we went about it was remarkable. The character on this team, how they were as teammates, the unselfishness was so fun to watch. They were so fun to coach.”
“As fans, there's 36 times fans got to watch this group. I got to watch it every day for about 100 practices. I'm very, very blessed that I had that opportunity because it was a blast watching these young men compete and improve and get better, and we just got beat by a very good team that played very, very well tonight.”
Kentucky indeed played well tonight propelled by the play of their two outstanding freshmen guards, De’Aaron Fox who had a career and game high 39 points and Malik Monk added 21 points. Senior guard, Dominique Hawkins scored 11 points and between the three scored 71 of Kentucky’s 86 points.
The Bruins had four players score in double figures. Isaac Hamilton had an outstanding final game as a Bruin scoring 17 points to tie TJ Leaf for the team lead. Senior Bryce Alford had 13 in his final game and Lonzo Ball scored 10.
One of the biggest topics that has been hovering over UCLA the entire tournament was the rumor that Alford would leave the Bruin program to coach at his alma mater Indiana.
Alford was asked about his future during the post-game presser.
“I talked about that last week,” Alford said. “Our guys have been very focused. I've been very focused. I said it last week, and I'll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles. To begin with, it's a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I've got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he's graduating from UCLA, so I've got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she's going to in Thousand Oaks. I'm very happy. I'm at UCLA. I don't know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.”
“This is a pretty special place. We've worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We've got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We're opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we've worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we've got some special kids that are coming to join us.”
“I'm very, very happy where I'm at, and hopefully that'll continue.”
When No.3 UCLA (31-4) played No.2 Kentucky (31-5) the first time around last December, it was an indication just what kind of basketball team the Bruins were going to be.
The Bruins entered legendary Rupp Arena rated 11th in the nation by AP and the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 and many in the college basketball world were shocked when the Bruins trumped the Wildcats 97-92snapping Kentucky’s 42 home game winning streak in the bargain.
Now the two legendary programs meet again in the Sweet 16 round of March Madness. Kentucky holds a 7-6 edge in the series between the two teams.
When the two teams met in December, the Bruins showed extreme mental toughness over coming 18 turnovers, well above their average, and still brought home the victory.
Outside of the turnovers, it was the Bruins playing Bruin basketball. Meaning, sharing the ball and hitting open shots. In total, six Bruins scored in double figures.
Isaac Hamilton led the Bruins in scoring with 18 points. TJ Leaf had a double-double scoring 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Leaf also had five assists. Lonzo Ball scored 14 points, dished out seven assists and had six boards. Bryce Alford had 14 points including some clutch free throws down the stretch and Thomas Welsh, who struggled with foul trouble ended up with 14 points and eight boards. Aaron Holiday did what he has done all season, supplying a spark off the bench, scoring 13 points.
The first time around UCLA’s bigs, struggled with foul trouble, both Welsh and Ike Anigbogu fouled out of the contest but the Bruins held off a furious comeback by the Wildcats to secure the victory. Before fouling out, Anigbogu did a lot of things off the bench that don’t show up in the box score, but he ended up scoring six points, had six boards and two blocked shots in 17 minutes of play, due to foul trouble.
UCLA basketball Coach Steve Alford, has led his Bruins to their third Sweet 16 appearance in four years. The Bruins have lost in the prior two, including a game that was played in the same venue UCLA will play Kentucky, the FedExForum (holds 18,119 fans) in Memphis, Tenn., on March 27, 2014.
The Bruins took it on the chin that night as a four seed, against No. 1 seed Florida, 79-68, but that was then and this now.
The Bruins have advanced due to the strong play of freshmen TJ Leaf (17.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Lonzo Ball (16.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.5 rpg). Ball shot 76.5 percent from the field, making 13 of 17 shots (and 6 of 10 attempts from 3-point range). Junior Thomas Welsh averaged 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two wins.
Through games played March 19, UCLA continues to lead the nation in scoring (90.2 ppg), overall field goal percentage (52.1%), assists per game (21.6), total assists (755) and assist-turnover ratio (1.93). No UCLA team has ever had an assist-turnover ratio as high as 1.93 or totaled as many as 755 assists in one season.
Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 6:39PM PST and will be televised nationally on CBS with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, and Bill Raftery, behind the microphones andTracy Wolfson covering court side.
UCLA’s flagship station AM 570 (KLAC) will broadcast the contest with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Bruin great Tracy Murray (analyst) performing their usual roles.
Sirius/XM Radio Channels 136/201 and Sirius App, Channel 961 will also broadcast the game on satellite.
Online Link (NABC Teams): http://bit.ly/2n1OCnu
UCLA’S LONZO BALL CAPTURES FIRST-TEAM NABC ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Ball has averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball has earned NABC Coaches’ Division I first-team All-America honors, as announced Thursday morning by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Ball has been selected as one of five first-team All-America selections – and the only freshman on this list – along with seniors Josh Hart (Villanova) and Frank Mason III (Kansas), junior Justin Jackson (North Carolina) and sophomore Caleb Swanigan (Purdue).
A 6-foot-6 guard from Chino Hills, Calif., Ball has averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation-leading 7.6 assists per game through 35 contests.
The NABC’s second-team All-America selections include juniors Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Johnathan Motley (Baylor) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga), sophomore Luke Kennard (Duke) and freshman Malik Monk (Kentucky). Players who secured third-team honors were senior Alec Peters (Valparaiso), sophomore Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) and freshmen Markelle Fultz (Washington), Josh Jackson (Kansas) and Lauri Markkanen (Arizona).
Ball was named a first-team All-District 20 selection by the NABC along with classmate TJ Leaf on Thursday. He is among four finalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy, annually awarded to the nation’s top player by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Ball is also one of 15 finalists on the ballot for this season’s John R. Wooden Award.
Ball has been named a first-team All-America selection by virtually every major national outlet, including the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), USA Today, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and NBC Sports. He has secured Freshman of the Year honors from the USBWA, USA Today, Sporting News, Bleacher Report and Basketball Times.
No. 3-seed UCLA (31-4) takes on No. 2-seed Kentucky (31-5) in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 on Friday evening in Memphis, Tenn. Game time at FedExForum is slated for 6:40 pm PT (8:40 pm CT). UCLA’s game against Kentucky will be nationally televised on CBS.