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After minutes dried up at UCLA, Zach Lavine belives the NBA will be a better situation

Chicago • Zach Lavine's freshman year at UCLA started hot.

It was, by his own account, "one of the hottest starts to a college career you could have."

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He shot 65 percent from 3; 80 percent from the field.

But by the end, he could hardly get on the court.

On March 14, he played just 12 minutes versus Stanford. The next game, he saw 13 versus Arizona. And so on.

"You can't handle everything that happens on the court," Lavine said at Thursday's NBA pre-draft combine. "You have to deal with it. He's the coach. He didn't tell me specifically why. The year was a little frustrating for me. I'm a very competitive person. I feel like I didn't have the right opportunity to help my guys win and we had such a good team. I feel like I didn't have the right opportunity to help. But stuff like that happens sometimes and it teaches you life lessons."

It also pushed Lavine to declare for the NBA draft after one year.

Lavine, who averaged 9.4 points and 2.8 rebounds a game last season, said his agent told him going pro would be "a better situation for you … than the situation you're in now."

And the youngster is certainly an intriguing prospect.

The 6-foot-5 combo guard played with the point guards Thursday and and showed off a nice stroke from the field. He believes he projects as a 1 at the next level: "I feel like I have the size to play point guard. I have the speed, quickness and athleticism."

He's sleight of frame, but said that's something time will fix.

"I'm still 19 years old," he said. "My body's still developing. I'm not going to be one of those players, Lebron's size, 260 [pounds]."

Lavine's UCLA teammate, Kyle Anderson, also likes his potential and work ethic.

"He was in the gyms every single night. He'd be down there at his hoop and I'd be down there at my hoop. He'd be in that gym every single day, every single night. … I think he's going to be unguardable in about 2-3 years. He's very good now, but once the physicality part catches up with him, I think he's going to be unstoppable."

— Aaron Falk

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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