Charlotte Hornets

UCLA’s Kevon Looney makes case for Hornets drafting him

UCLA's Kevon Looney (left), here guarding Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos in the NCAA tournament, worked out Monday for the Charlotte Hornets.
UCLA's Kevon Looney (left), here guarding Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos in the NCAA tournament, worked out Monday for the Charlotte Hornets. AP

The Charlotte Hornets worked out UCLA power forward Kevon Looney Monday, which poses this question:

Could the Hornets justify using a third consecutive top-10 pick on a power forward?

Looney, who played one college season for the Bruins, offered an interesting reply: No such thing as too much big in basketball.

“You can never be too long, you can never be too big,” Looney said. “Versatility really helps at those positions and I feel I could add to that.”

Looney’s special talent at UCLA, the thing that makes him a first-round prospect, is rebounding. Despite a slim build (6-foot-9 and 220 pounds), he averaged 9.2 rebounds, second overall in the Pac-12. His offensive rebounds (3.4 per game) were particularly impressive.

“It’s a lot of fun for me. As a skinnier guy I always take it as a challenge to go down there with the big guys and get physical,” said Looney, who had double-doubles in 15 of his 36 college games.

The other thing that makes Looney somewhat intriguing is his shooting range. He didn’t take many 3-pointers last season, but he made 22 of his 53 attempts, a 41-percent rate. Power forwards with shooting range are popular commodities in the NBA because so many teams want to have four starters along the perimeter.

But still you must wonder if, after choosing Cody Zeller fourth overall in 2013 and Noah Vonleh ninth in 2014, the Hornets would invest this No. 9 pick in yet another power forward.

Looney said Monday was his eighth or ninth workout, which reflects a player likely to be selected in the second half of the first round. Draftexpress.com has him going 17th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks. NBAdraft.net has him going 23rd to the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Each workout is a little different, but they’re all a lot of fun: Different terminology, different players, different sets. They always look for different things out of players,” Looney said.

“I try to show off my versatility -- passing, shooting, creating for other guys. That’s something I’ve always been good at. I didn’t do that a lot at UCLA, but I’m hoping to show it off now.”

Looney grew up in Milwaukee and saw going across the country to Southern California for college as an adventure.

“My dad always told me to explore, so I went all the way out to the West Coast,” Looney said. “I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun. UCLA is a great campus.”

Draft party/new alternate uniform: The Hornets will host a draft party at Time Warner Cable Arena starting at 6 p.m. on June 25. Admission is free.

At 7:15 p.m. the Hornets will unveil a new alternate uniform for next season. Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be there to show off the new design.

The draft starts at 7:30. The Hornets have the ninth pick in the first round. Their second-round pick is 39th overall.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell

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