GG Goloman isn’t listed on any of the prominent NBA mock draft boards, meaning the UCLA senior forward would likely have to try to make a team through the back door of a training camp invitation.
He should remember to bring along footage of his performance against Arizona to enhance his candidacy.
Goloman outplayed Wildcats counterpart and possible No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton for stretches of UCLA’s 82-74 triumph Thursday night at the McKale Center. Goloman matched Ayton in points (16), assists (two) and blocks (two) while committing one fewer turnover and playing a much more efficient game.
The 6-foot-11 Goloman logged his career high in points while making six of eight shots, including a career-high three three-pointers. The 7-1 Ayton made seven of 19 shots while being continually harassed by Goloman and his fellow Bruins big men.
“That’s what GG can do,” UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday said after the game. “He can shoot, get in the lane — obviously he’s great at defense, getting a lot of stops for us, rebounds and blocked shots.”
After moving back into the starting lineup for the first time in three weeks, Goloman helped prevent Ayton and fellow Arizona 7-footer Dusan Ristic from dominating inside. The Bruins’ zone defense continually pushed the Wildcats post players outside of the paint with impressive results.
UCLA matched Arizona point for point in the paint (each team had 34) while collecting only one fewer rebound.
UCLA’s fourth consecutive victory moved the Bruins (17-7 overall, 8-4 Pac-12 Conference) to within one game of Arizona in the conference standings heading into a game against Arizona State (18-6, 6-6) on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Goloman is a big reason the Bruins are on the verge of moving off the NCAA tournament bubble, his impact routinely exceeding modest averages of 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. All of his three-pointers came in the second half against Arizona, the first two ending Wildcats runs that had made things a bit uncomfortable for the Bruins.
Goloman’s final three-pointer gave UCLA a 15-point advantage with less than two minutes left, quickening the exodus of Arizona fans.
“It’s a great win, definitely, to beat Arizona at home,” Goloman said, “but there’s a lot more games that we have to win to be there [in the NCAA tournament]. This is definitely a great starting point, though.”
Goloman might have just the touch to help the Bruins reach their intended destination. He has made nine of 16 three-pointers (56.3%) in Pac-12 play after having made only three of 13 from long range (23.1%) in nonconference games.
“GG was huge,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said of Goloman’s performance against Arizona. “One, he took open shots. We worked the ball, we moved the ball really well and to his credit, he made shots, and that’s what he’s worked awfully hard on and I thought he was terrific.”
Saturday at Arizona State
When: 4 p.m. PST
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
On the air: TV: Pac-12 Networks; Radio: 1150.
Update: Arizona State figures to have something creative in store for UCLA with its Curtain of Distraction, which in the past has featured celebrity lookalikes and half-naked students (among other props) designed to rattle Sun Devils opponents shooting free throws. The Bruins’ international shoplifting scandal has provided all the fodder Sun Devils students need to come up with something new. Will they draw back the curtain to unveil a giant Chinese flag? A LaVar Ball clone? A slew of students wearing Louis Vuitton sunglasses? The Bruins say they’ll try to ignore whatever visual disturbance they encounter. “I try not to pay attention,” Goloman said when asked about the antics, “but they always have something funny.”