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UCLA's Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, Zach LaVine face decisions on NBA

Lurking beyond the NCAA tournament horizon for UCLA's basketball team is one very important question:

Will they or won't they?

Three Bruins will have NBA decisions to make once their tournament run is done. Sophomore Kyle Anderson, sophomore Jordan Adams and freshman Zach LaVine may have already played their last game at Pauley Pavilion. Or one, two or all could be back next season.

The early line has Anderson leaving, LaVine a pick 'em and Adams likely to return.

But it's an inexact science that surely sends a shiver through some fans. These are the types of decisions that prompt the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands.

The players, already stressed by the lose-and-it's-all-over scenario of an NCAA tournament, are not immune to the extra pressure.

"It's tough on kids my age," Anderson said. "It's a big decision. There's all the talk about what you're going to do. You can't listen to it.

"It's March. You've got to keep your focus."

Anderson, a 6-foot-9 point guard who is a nifty passer with tremendous court sense, averages 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game heading into the Bruins' NCAA opener Friday against Tulsa at San Diego State's Viejas Arena.

He has proved to be a tough matchup for opponents at the college level, but there are NBA scouts who are unsure where Anderson will fit in as a pro.

"I understand that whole process," Anderson said. "That's just going to require more work. I'm ready for that. I completely understand the business."

Beyond his family, he has one business adviser. Anderson talks frequently to Shabazz Muhammad, who a year ago left for the NBA after his freshman season at UCLA.

Muhammad was drafted 14th overall by the Utah Jazz and immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has played in 28 games, averaging 7.6 minutes, in his rookie season.

"He has helped with me with everything as far as how the NBA works and what it came down to making his decision," Anderson said.

Anderson has sidestepped questions about whether he will declare for the draft, but his father has been very direct with his opinion. "He's done," Kyle Anderson Sr. said last week.

Anderson the player has left ajar the door to return.

"It's up in the air right now," he said.

Of his father's comments, Anderson said, "He came out and said it. I just want to focus on the tournament. Whatever happens, we'll make a decision after the season."

Most projections have Anderson going in the latter half of the first round if he does declare for the draft.

"I heard all the great praise you could get as a 20-year-old kid this season," Anderson said. "I think some games it made me come out and subconsciously relax my play. Maybe I wasn't as hungry as I was in the beginning of the season."

Anderson pointed to the Stanford game at Palo Alto in February when he had six points in an 83-74 loss.

"I watched the game tape and it devastated me," Anderson said. "Subconsciously, maybe you come out and think 'I don't have to do this, or do this.' I would never say that out loud, but it does have a big effect. You learn from that."

LaVine and Adams also have decisions to make.

LaVine, a freshman guard who has not started a game this season, is nonetheless rated higher than Anderson on most boards. Indeed, NBA.com has him as a lottery pick.

Though he suffered a prolonged shooting slump during Pac-12 Conference play, LaVine is averaging 10 points off the bench and has flashed NBA athletic skills.

Adams, who averages a team-high 17.2 points, is projected as a second-round pick.

Young at heart

Tulsa, which has won 11 consecutive games, starts four sophomores, but Coach Danny Manning downplays youth as a factor.

"I don't feel like they're young, but they're sophomores," Manning said. "So I guess you can say they are underclassmen. They've got a lot of minutes under their belt and a lot of experience under their belt."

UCLA Coach Steve Alford, on the other hand, has repeatedly mentioned how young his team is, even though the Bruins have two seniors and a junior in the starting five.

UCLA's top three off the bench are two freshmen and a sophomore.

Beat the clock

Alford's last visit to Viejas Arena wasn't a happy one. His New Mexico team lost to San Diego State, 55-34, last season.

Those were the fewest points by a Lobos team in the shot-clock era.

Don't expect a repeat. UCLA averages 81.8 points per game; Tulsa averages 71.3.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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