Leading up to the draft, Hoops Rumors will be talking with some of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s class. Today, the Hoops Rumors Draft Prospect Q&A series continues with UCLA forward Kevon Looney, who is ranked No. 19 in this year’s class by Chad Ford of ESPN.com and No. 20 by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
Coming out of high school, scouting services collectively had Kevon Looney as the No. 11 player in the nation and he had offers from just about every elite program under the sun. Now, after one year at UCLA, Looney is making the jump to the pros and is widely projected to be a first-round selection.
Looney is blessed with great size for the power forward position at the next level. Standing at a shade over 6’9″ in shoes, Looney boasts an almost freakish wingspan of 7’3.5″. With that length, Looney can grab loose rebounds with the best of ’em and has the potential to grow by leaps and bounds on the defensive end. On offense, Looney showed last season that he’s getting more and more comfortable with his jump shot, a skill that helped to spread out the floor for the Bruins.
On Saturday, Hoops Rumors caught up with the very busy 19-year-old between flights to talk about his stock heading into June 25th, and his NBA future.
Zach Links: What was it like coming to UCLA as a freshman and immediately jumping into a starring role?
Kevon Looney: It was a great experience for me and a great learning experience for me. I think I got better as both a player and as a person. I made a lot of strides and I made a lot of friends while I was there.
ZL: What were some of the strides you made on the court?
KL: I would say my biggest improvement was probably my shooting. As the year went on, I shot better and it continued to get better. I don’t know if I got better at rebounding, but I showed that I could do it for sure. I proved that I could do it in high school but to show that to the world in college was important to me. That was probably my greatest strength this year.
ZL: Did you consider staying for another year?
KL: Yes, a little bit. I figured I could stay at UCLA for another year and get better. I mean, everyone wants to win a college National Championship and I felt like if I came back, we could have won even more as a team. But, at the end of the day, I wanted to pursue my dream and become a first-round draft pick.
ZL: You’ve shown that you can rebound over bigger and stronger opponents. What’s your secret?
KL: It’s just something I always had a knack for. I’m really long and I have good timing for it. I’ve always been good at it and I’ve always wanted to be the best at it.
ZL: Are you looking to add muscle to your frame? How much weight are you looking to put on?
KL: I’m not sure what my goal weight is. Right now I’m playing so much that it’s hard to get in the weight room. But, as soon as I’m done with the draft, I’ll talk to whatever team drafts me and get a plan for my body. I’ve never had a problem putting on weight before, so I think I’ll be able to put on weight pretty fast.
ZL: What workouts have you had so far and what workouts are coming up?
KL: So far, I’ve worked out for the Thunder, Suns, Jazz, and Pistons. Coming up, I’ve got the Hawks, Heat, Bucks, Raptors, Hornets, Celtics, and Knicks.
ZL: Do you have an idea of where you might get drafted?
KL: My agent tells me anywhere from No. 7 to No. 20. That’s my range right now.
ZL: What NBA player would you compare yourself to?
ZL: You shot the ball well from three-point range (41.5%) last season, but you only attempted 53 three pointers in total. Could you see yourself shooting from outside more at the next level?
KL: Yeah, I think I’m comfortable shooting from NBA range and I think I’ll be called upon to spread the floor out. That’s one of my strong suits, and I really zoned in on that this offseason.
ZL: It seems like there’s a perception that you have a good amount of upside but that you’re still a little green and won’t make a big impact right away. Do you disagree with that assessment?
KL: I think so. I don’t think I’m that far away from making an impact at all. I know I have a lot of work to do, but once I get stronger, I’ll be much better. I know I can gain weight fast and once I get stronger, I know that I can make an instant impact.
ZL: What kind of things are you doing day to day to get ready for what’s ahead?
KL: Before I got busy with all these team workouts, I was doing yoga in the morning and then going to the track to do sprints. Then I would run a couple miles and come back and play some basketball.
ZL: How long have you been doing yoga?
KL: I did yoga in high school, I did some at UCLA, and I’ve been doing it every day ever since the season ended. It helps me a lot. I do hot yoga all the time and that helps me to keep my core strong and helps my breathing for some reason. I learned how to breathe and get rid of tension pent up my lungs.
ZL: What led you to choose Aaron Goodwin and Todd Ramasar to represent you?
KL: I let my parents pick out a few people that would be the best for me and I met with the people that they picked. Those two guys were the best fit for me. … When you look at someone like Aaron, he has some big-name people there but he also has time for me. He’s a great guy with vision and I really feel like I’m going to benefit from his experience.
ZL: What are your plans for draft night?
KL: Hopefully I’ll get an invite to the green room! Even if I don’t, I’ll probably end up going to New York to get the full experience.