On the evening of Selection Sunday, in celebration of UCLA basketball’s conquest as a No.1 seed, moms, dads, students, and alumni gathered in the Powell Library quad and got drunk together. The big day had been planned for weeks, and was confirmed the day UCLA won the PAC-12 tournament, against Arizona (which is now under investigation for doping players, deflating the basketball, and from being a shithole, otherwise known as Tucson).
From first four to top four, this is how it came to be.
Five-star recruit, the soul and glue of the Bruins, and John R. Wooden Award recipient, Shareef O’Nea, gave an insider’s look at the amazing year.
“Last year, the Bruins had it rough,” O’Neal said. “Hands showed he ain’t got hands. Nobody drove into the paint; they would rather shoot three’s from the safety of the half-court line than get anywhere near that hoop.”
And that’s where O’Neal came in: “All year, I just ran through those teams and dunked on them—one game, seventeen dunks. Me and Wilkes just turned it into a dunk-off.”
Coach Alford said the pair had a strong relationship throughout the season, and “during timeouts, [O’Neal] would point to Jaylen and say, ‘No more fucking 3’s Hands–you’re as useless as an intentional foul with ten minutes to go in the second.’
“Whenever he’d do that, I’d go up to him and say something like, ‘This hasn’t been my team all season. They pay me $3 million to look pretty, so get in there and show them what the son of a professional shoulder-shimmier can do.’ And it worked–every time.”
The team will face the Purdue Boilermakers in the first round of tournament action, to which Alford said should be “cake.”
“Well, we’re playing Purdue first,” Alford said. “Can you believe they got a No. 2 seed last year? What a joke. I can tell you one thing: a ragtag, cul-de-sac middle school street team would’ve given last year a hard time. This year, it’s like everybody is that team.”
After a truly underwhelming year of basketball in 2018, UCLA fans all agree that 2019 was more satisfying than love-at-first-sight with Mia Khalifa, and that there’s nothing like living in the present.