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UCLA Sports

The Check-in: UCLA’s Jake Kyman works on taking the perfect shot amid coronavirus shutdown

UCLA guard Jake Kyman looks to pass against Stanford.
Jake Kyman, UCLA’s freshman shooting guard, has kept busy during the coronavirus lockdown by working on his filmmaking skills in his Aliso Viejo neighborhood.
(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Shooters shoot, even when it seems as if the world has come to a standstill.

Jake Kyman simply points a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at whatever captures his imagination. The UCLA shooting guard and budding filmmaker has depicted the scenic beauty of his Aliso Viejo neighborhood at sunset and water droplets falling from the edge of his roof during a rainstorm.

He’s condensed hours of scenes into short videos that he’s uploaded onto YouTube to entertain friends and family while everyone is staying at home because of the coronavirus.

“I’ve always been infatuated with film,” Kyman said, “and just love being behind the camera and making something come to life.”

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A huge fan of the “Star Wars” and Marvel Comics movies, Kyman studied film for four years at Santa Margarita High. He considered majoring in the discipline at UCLA before realizing that the time demands would have been the equivalent of playing two sports, so he stuck with it as a side project for now.

With the Olympics being postponed until 2021, UCLA softball stars Rachel Garcia and Bubble Nickles plan to play for the Bruins next season.

After completing a freshman season in which his shooting prowess prompted Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley to compare him to NBA legend Larry Bird, Kyman showed that he has an equally deft touch with a camera.

His video titled “Sunset” opens with a panoramic view of an Orange County coastline at dusk that’s followed by captivating images. There’s a thicket of brush, wildflowers and varying hues of orange and purple as the sun fades beneath the sea, all set to a soothing score that captures the tranquility of the moment.

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Video short by UCLA basketball player Jake Kyman.

“Rainy Days” unveils a more buoyant tone, thanks mostly to its upbeat soundtrack accompanying scenes of rain falling in Kyman’s neighborhood. But the camera never gets wet, the filming completed from inside his home.

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Video short shot by UCLA basketball player Jake Kyman.

The shots are enhanced by the quality of the high-end camera Kyman bought online that’s often used in commercials and movies. His girlfriend, UCLA volleyball player Kelsey Campeau, has helped by holding the camera on certain shots or assisting with lighting issues, but it’s mostly a one-man production.

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Kyman estimated that the videos can take more than 12 hours to complete, from planning to filming to editing and musical selection. His first video, “A Walk in Westwood,” was a collage of scenes near the UCLA campus before the shutdown ended the Bruins’ season in mid-March.

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Video short shot by UCLA basketball player Jake Kyman.

A photo atop Kyman’s Twitter account shows him and his teammates celebrating with a throng of fans after UCLA’s final home game against Arizona on Feb. 29.

UCLA’s season ended less than two weeks after that triumph, the Bruins going from their Las Vegas hotel back to Los Angeles without having set foot in T-Mobile Arena for the Pac-12 Conference tournament.

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“It was just such a swift like click turn of events,” Kyman said. “I mean, I remember the Arizona game, we were cheering with everyone in the student section and we head to the Pac-12 tournament and everyone played that day, we were expecting to play the next day and then it was canceled and everything snowballed from there.”

Kyman’s contributions vastly exceeded his modest averages of 5.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game, especially given his sporadic playing time. He made seven three-pointers, including the game-winner, in a road victory over Washington and buried five more three-pointers in the first half of a home triumph over Arizona State, drawing the Bird comparisons from Hurley.

Doug Erickson has been UCLA’s go-to man since 1992, serving as director of basketball administration. He might be the last remaining thread to John Wooden.

Like any dedicated shooter, Kyman continues to get up shots despite some new challenges. He found an outdoor court about 10 minutes from home that he uses every day, avoiding the fate of teammate Jaime Jaquez Jr., who was shooed away by bullhorn-toting police from a court in Camarillo. Just finding a functioning basket now is an achievement in itself.

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“There’s plenty of courts that have tied the nets or unscrewed the rims, so I’m surprised that this one is still intact,” Kyman said of the court he uses.

With the sports world largely shut down, Kyman’s greatest feat of the coming months could be a documentary he’s filming about how his neighborhood of about 50 homes has produced 10 Division I college athletes. He’s found a common thread that helps explain how such a small area has produced so many notable players.

“It’s mostly just us hanging outside,” Kyman said, “so I’m just trying to tell that story.”


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