Ex UCLA, Lakers’ Jamaal Wilkes likes Kentucky’s chances to win NCAA Tournament

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error His teammates rarely ever brought up the record. The late John Wooden, the famed UCLA coach, rarely even addressed it. But all these years later, Jamaal Wilkes remained aware the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak meant something more than a number. He attributed the accomplishment to UCLA’s selflessness.“One thing about playing for Coach Wooden is if you didn’t want to be there, there were 100 guys for him waiting to be picked,” Wilkes said in an interview with Los Angeles News Group to promote his book, ‘Memoirs of The Original Smooth As Silk.’ “We all felt a real sense of privilege and good fortune to play for a guy like that.”Wilkes provided a similar explanation for how the University of Kentucky enters today’s NCAA Tournament semifinal against Wisconsin remaining undefeated through 38 games. “They are very impressive. Coach (John) Calipari does a masterful job,” said Wilkes, who won three NBA championships with the Lakers (1977-85). “What impresses me most is how unselfish they are. They all go in there knowing they might not play a lot.”Does Wilkes believe the Wildcats will win the NCAA men’s national championship?“I do like their chances with what I’ve seen,” Wilkes said. “They have a lot of great players and they play a lot of guys. They’re going to be hard to beat. If one guy has an off game, there’s a real likelihood someone else could pick up for him. But having said that, they still have to go on the floor and do it.”UCLA often managed to do that. Wilkes became a two-time All-American and helped the Bruins win two consecutive national championships in 1972 (23 points and 10 rebounds against Florida State) and 1973 (16 points and seven rebounds). All while staying undefeated. center_img “He didn’t make a big deal of it at all,” Wilkes said of Wooden’s reaction about the Bruins’ undeafeated streak. “That helped us maintain perspective and a sense of balance. We didn’t have the social media that we have today. But for that time, there was a tremendous amount of media. The fact that he kept it in balance and perspective helped us to do the same.”The current Bruins hardly match those teams. But they made a surprising run this year as an No. 11 seed to the Sweet 16. “I was pleasantly surprised when they were selected. I knew it wasn’t a lock.” Wilkes said. “I tip my hat to Coach (Steve) Alford. He got them together and got them to really focus and improve.”Roster additionThe Lakers signed 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard Dwight Buycks to a 10-day contract on Friday after the NBA approved a hardship exception because of various season-ending and long-term injuries. Buycks did not play in Friday’s game against Portland at Staples Center. Lakers coach Byron Scott wants Buycks to practice today before playing on Sunday against the Clippers. He had extensive stops this year both overseas (Valencia Basket of Spanish ACB League, Tianjiin Ronggang of Chinese Basketball Association) and in the Development League (Oklahoma City Blue). last_img read more