In advance of Thursday’s draft, Hoops Rumors has been 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 guard Norman Powell, who is ranked No. 41 in this year’s class by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and No. 53 by Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
After four years at UCLA, guard Norman Powell is battle tested and ready to take the next step. While he doesn’t have the prototypical size for a shooting guard, Powell more than makes up for that with his tenacity and athleticism. In his final year on campus, Powell showed that he can score with his jump shot, and he also put up points by slashing to the basket. In total, Powell averaged 16.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 34.6 minutes per contest as he impressed NBA scouts and helped lead his team to the Sweet Sixteen. Last week, Powell took some time out of his schedule to talk to Hoops Rumors about his skill set and how it’ll translate at the next level.
Zach Links: You really seemed to come into your own in your junior year. What factors led to you breaking out?
Norman Powell: It was just the opportunity that was presented to me. Coach [Steve] Alford, when he got hired, he came to me and told me I was going to be his guy. He told me my junior year was going to be my breakout year and he was right. I was finally able to show what I was capable of.
ZL: How close were you to going pro last year?
NP: A lot of people thought I wouldn’t return for my senior year given that I had a strong year. But, I was really focused on graduating and getting my degree.
ZL: You made a lot of strides with your jump shot this season. Do you feel like that addition to your arsenal is going to make you an even more dangerous offensive threat?
NP: Yeah, definitely, I always felt like I had a strong mid-range pull-up game. I’ve also shown that I can get to the basket and score. Increasing my range is something that I’m definitely working on and that needs improvement. I need to stay focused on that to get it to the level that it needs to be.
ZL: With a 6’11” wingspan, do you feel like you have a greater defensive potential than people realize?
NP: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people are questioning me because of my size. People always told me I was undersized, but with my length and athleticism, it gives me an added edge out there. That’s something that people are counting out. My length makes up for a lot of that. I think I have the potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level. The sky is the limit for me, honestly, especially because I have that tough mentality and that wingspan.
ZL: Do you have any last minute workouts scheduled?
NP: I’ll actually be working out for the Lakers on Wednesday, June 24th, the day before the draft. That’ll be my second workout with them.
ZL: What led you to choose Todd Ramasar as your agent?
NP: Todd is a UCLA guy, so he has a similar background to me. He also understands my mindset. I was being slept on by a lot of people when it comes to what I can do at the next level. I feel like I have a lot to prove, I have a chip on my shoulder, and I want to show that I’m one of the top talents in the draft. We want to put people on notice that have been counting me out. We both have the mentality of an underdog that wants to succeed.