Kevon Looney hadn’t called any of the college basketball coaches at the final six schools on his list.
He conferred with his parents Sunday night about his options, but then left them in the dark once he had made his decision Wednesday night
“Nobody knew except for me,” the Milwaukee Hamilton senior said Thursday afternoon.
So it was a big surprise when the 6-foot-9 forward reached into a rolling briefcase and pulled out the cap of the winner. To some, it was an even bigger surprise when the one Looney pulled out was UCLA’s.
That meant Looney — one of the most highly recruited players to ever come out of Wisconsin — had chosen the Bruins and first-year coach Steve Alford over his home-state Wisconsin Badgers and perennial power Duke, thought to be the front-runner among his finalists.
Instead, Looney said UCLA won out over Tennessee — former Badger Tracy Webster led the recruiting effort for the Vols — as he went back and forth with the decision. Michigan State and Florida were the other finalists, but Looney liked what he saw on his trip to Los Angeles.
“California was a great place,” Looney said. “UCLA was a great campus, most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen. Coach Alford is a great coach. On my visit, I saw their team and how they bought into the system, him being new there. They have a great style of play; I can fit in.
“I like the vision that he has for them.”
Looney praised Bo Ryan and the Badgers’ staff for their efforts in trying to keep him instate.
“Wisconsin was right there,” he said. “Everyone knows about Wisconsin; they’re a great program. I had a great relationship with Bo Ryan. He probably started recruiting me first and I thank him for that.
“When it came down to it, I felt UCLA was my best option.”