He’s the best three-point shooter on the team, has committed only a handful of turnovers and never seems to play out of the flow of the offense.
The case for increasing David Singleton’s playing time appears to be a strong one, and even the coach who has limited his minutes agrees.
“He’s very low-risk, very smart, knows how to play and can really make shots,” UCLA interim coach Murry Bartow said Tuesday. “We are trying to get him more minutes, but there’s other guys in that 10-man rotation I’m trying to give more minutes to” as well.
Few seem more deserving than the freshman guard who just might be the headiest player on his team.
But Singleton barely played in the Bruins’ game against Washington last weekend, when a steadying presence could have been used amid a burst of turnovers. The freshman guard missed his only shot and committed a turnover in 11 minutes but more than made up for it with a steal and two blocks in the cameo appearance.
Singleton provided a snapshot of what he could do with more playing time last month, when he scored 14 points in a team-high 15 minutes during the first half of a victory over California.
His season averages of 4.4 points and 1.1 rebounds are mostly a function of playing only 15.5 minutes a game. He has played backup point guard to Jaylen Hands and shifted over to shooting guard whenever he plays alongside Hands, though he hasn’t enjoyed a significant uptick in minutes in Pac-12 Conference play.
Singleton said last week that he was willing to defer to the coaching staff when it came to his playing time.
“I have 100% trust in them,” Singleton said, “and my playing time, when I go out there, I just give them 100% effort to win the game, contribute to the game.”
He does so by more than making shots and running the offense smoothly, though those factors certainly enhance his value. Singleton has made 18 of 40 three-pointers, good for a team-high 45%, and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of more than two to one.
“He’s really composed,” forward Alex Olesinski said. “You know that when he’s coming out there, he’s not going to turn the ball over, he’ll make the right plays, the simple plays, he can shoot the lights out, so he’s been a big get for us and he’s been playing at a really high level.”
Guard Prince Ali said Singleton radiates a winning culture after being only two seasons removed from a state championship team at Bishop Montgomery High in Torrance.
“He just likes doing things right,” Ali said. “Any time coach or anybody explains something, David is probably the first person to try his hardest to do it right.”
The issue has become such a nagging constant that Bartow has committed the numbers to memory.
“We have 156 turnovers in the nine Pac-12 games,” Bartow said.
That averages out to a conference-worst 17.3 turnovers per game, including 23 during the Bruins’ loss to Washington. Bartow said roughly half have come as a result of sloppy dribbling and the balance from careless passing. He’s targeted a number that he would like to see over the second half of conference play.
“If we could cut turnovers from 17 to 12, maybe have four or five less a game,” Bartow said, “it would be big, it would really help us.”
UCLA UP NEXT
When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Where: Pauley Pavilion.
On the air: TV: Pac-12 Networks; Radio: 570.