"Coming in," Powell told The Times, "I thought I was going to be the guy and just be out."
Powell did not find much playing time early on, but he gradually added to his game like pieces in a puzzle. He always had explosive athleticism, enough that then-UCLA coach Ben Howland saw a bit of Russell Westbrook in him. His ball-handling and defense, however, needed polishing.
By his junior season, he had become one of the conference's best defenders and had more than enough ball-handling skills to play the small forward. Last season, he began to add more consistent perimeter shooting to his arsenal.
That will have to continue to improve, but Powell’s defense can be good enough to make an impact for an NBA team.
On the ESPN broadcast, analyst Jay Williams said Powell could be an “elite defender.”
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand