No one doubted that Kyle Anderson wouldn't leave Westwood for big money in the NBA after a single season, but the 6'9'' point forward made it official on Monday night.
The sophomore forward out of New Jersey's father told CBS Sports that he would indeed dress in Bruin Blue and Gold for another year:
Kyle Anderson will definitely return to UCLA, his father told CBSSports.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) April 16, 2013
Some analysis after the jump.
As I wrote back in early March, Anderson benefits tremendously by sticking around. Aside from the fact that his draft stock is kind of low — he's currently looking at a late-first round selection at best, and a mid-2nd-round selection at worst — he'll also struggle at the NBA level at this point. (And we're not saying this because we're fanatics; to validate this, I did write that UCLA football linebacker Anthony Barr should have left for the NFL after 2012).
The fact that he'd struggle isn't Anderson's doing, though. While the 6'9'' point forward's strengths include ball-handling, court-vision and setting up teammates for easy shots, he didn't get to display much of that at all this year. With UCLA coach Ben Howland shackling him up, which coincided with the rise of senior point guard Larry Drew II, Anderson was forced to play a power forward role on both offense and defense. As you can imagine, NBA scouts won't be sold on Anderson as a show-runner — really, his natural role — and instead will look at Anderson as a prospect set to play the 3- or 4-spots. Given that he can't necessarily bang with bigs at the college level consistently, he probably wouldn't be able to do so in the NBA.
The only thing that could've saved Anderson's NBA career had he left this year was an imaginative coach. And if we're honest, the NBA is filled with unimaginative coaches that won't stray from convention, which is what a coach would do if he were to allow Anderson to man an offense for 40 minutes a night. As of now, they'll look at Anderson, run over his stats, and will refuse to give him a shot to play the role as the point. If you want to see what that would result in, look no further than Boris Diaw, a 6'9'' also-ran who's known for his passing abilities but came into the NBA in a marginal role and never developed.
Instead, Kyle Anderson did the right thing in sticking around to prove to NBA scouts and general managers that he can take over a game with his court-vision and passing skills. Sure, perhaps there might be some reluctance after something resembling an eight-assist-per-game season, but he'd have won over half the coaches who would draft him. That sets up his odds of success rather well.
The implications for UCLA are obvious. The Bruins don't have a true point guard to take over for the departing Larry Drew II outside of Anderson, meaning Anderson's desire to man the offense is almost guaranteed. Consider, too, that Anderson was also the Bruins' best rebounder, which will be a valuable trait given the Wear twins' inability to hold onto a board, and given Parker's rocky freshman season.
Overall, good call for everyone involved. The NBA will get a better look at Anderson and use him more effectively, Anderson will get a chance to improve his draft stock, and UCLA keeps a fantastic athlete for another year.