Report: Some concern Kevon Looney's preseason hip injury didn't fully heal
With apologies to the entire pharmaceutical industry, there may not be a stock as volatile as Kevon Looney's one month from the 2015 NBA Draft.
Projected to go as high as No. 6 earlier in the season, the UCLA freshman now finds himself ranked No. 19 by ESPN draft guru Chad Ford and No. 20 by DraftExpress. Ford's latest mock has Looney going 16th, DraftExpress' has him going 19th, and theScore's initial mock draft agrees with Ford.
Such a precipitous drop following a relatively successful campaign is a bit confusing. Looney led all freshman in double-doubles, averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds while shooting 47 percent and hitting 22-of-53 from outside, and played fairly well as the Bruins made an unexpected run to the Sweet Sixteen.
Ford reported Tuesday that Looney's range extends as high as the top 10 and as low as the second round. Part of the reason his stock is volatile is because his conditioning and motor are questioned, issues that appear to be bigger red flags for some teams than others. Another part is that the underlying root cause may be a concern.
There is a belief that a preseason hip injury Looney suffered may not have fully healed.
That injury kept him from practicing with the Bruins until the season began and put him behind the curve for conditioning all season long. And while Looney is putting in extra conditioning work and doing yoga to improve his strength and flexibility, team doctors will surely be looking at his medicals closely.
If it's a limiting factor in his athleticism moving forward, it's conceivable that teams who prefer Looney as a small forward could be turned off. With a somewhat wiry frame and a decent outside shot, Looney could probably play either forward spot. But he sounds more comfortable at the four, in part because he loves to hit the glass.
"I've always loved (rebounding)," Looney said at a workout this weekend. "Being a skinnier guy, in high school the bigs would always try to punk me. I took pride in going over them, getting rebounds and putting putback dunks on them."
A point guard in high school and strictly a power forward at UCLA, Looney is going to take some time to settle into whatever role an NBA team thrusts at him. But if his hip condition - and his burst, as a result - improves, there seems to be a good chance Looney winds up being a steal in the late teens to early 20s. There's a lot to like here that late.