By: Lizzie Siegle
With the draft number of thirty, the Warriors have selected UCLA forward Kevin Looney as their first-round pick.
Looney first made headlines in January by breaking off a piece of the rim when dunking in a game.
The nineteen-year-old Milwaukee native was a McDonald’s All-American his senior year of high school. After playing in his first college game, he declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. He excelled down in Westwood, receiving court time each game and playing as both a power and a small forward. His 6’9 frame was a major advantage at the box in the key for rebounds, particularly on offense. His size helped him be second in the NCAA for average rebounds, with 9.2 a game. He also led all NCAA freshmen in double-doubles, averaging 12.3 baskets a game. Looney excelled in a double OT (over-time) win versus Stanford, where he held his own against four Cardinal defenders, and also drained a few threes. A big man with decent ball-handling skills who can shoot? It sounds too good to be true.
And it is, for injuries are calling this first-round draft pick into question. Approaching his freshman season at UCLA last summer, Looney injured his hip. This morning, on the day of the draft, Chad Ford revisited this issue on ESPN.com, predicting, “While his hip injury is fixable, he probably misses the season.”
It was an interesting prediction, given Looney’s successful freshman season after the injury. Golden State General Manager Bob Myers acknowledged these conflicting reports regarding the health of their number one draft pick, and believes there will be no issue.
If Looney is indeed injured, it should not affect the Warriors immediately, as it is unlikely he would see much court time at the start of the season with their current roster. However, for a player who for his freshman season never missed a practice (even when injured from the PAC-12 tournament), his grit, determination, and work ethic will serve him well with the Warriors.
Should Looney’s hip be healthy, it will only be a matter of time before he makes an impact with the Warriors. Only time will tell.