UCLA walk-on has quite the pedigree

UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class has faced its share of issues thus far, from Shabazz Muhammad’s ongoing eligibility questions to the practice-robbing injuries suffered by Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker. Which is why UCLA coach Ben Howland went out and got a surefire future NBA franchise center ... right?

OK, no, not really. Not at all, actually. Adria Gasol has the size (6-foot–10) and the genes and the surname to project as a future NBA center -- he is, after all, the younger brother of Marc and Pau Gasol, two of the NBA’s best big men -- but he apparently lacks one important factor: skill.

Per The Dagger -- where a UCLA spokesman confirmed Gasol would join the Bruins in practices this fall -- the youngest of the three Gasol brothers is a major project. He played sparingly as a freshman and sophomore living in Memphis, and when he returned to Spain he participated in Spanish U–18 national team workouts but didn’t make the roster. Eurohopes.com scout Rafal Juc told The Dagger’s Jeff Eisenberg that though Gasol was on Spanish agents’ radars (and really, when you’re 6-foot–10 and your last name is Gasol, how could you not be?) but often struggles with injuries, appears “lost on the court” and “shows serious lack of basketball fundamentals.”

The long-term prognosis is not good. But CBS’s Gary Parrish says he’s heard a version of this story before:

So what does this development mean? Probably not much in the immediate future because the youngest Gasol isn’t really heralded despite the fact that he’s 6-foot–10 and, you know, named Gasol. But let me say this: I live in Memphis and once watched a fat kid named Marc Gasol play high school basketball, and, back then, I had no idea I was looking at a future franchise center. Nobody did. So these Gasols can be difficult to project. That’s my point.

Marc Gasol’s first few years in the NBA were shaky, too. He was still too heavy and too slow, lacked basic skills around the rim, had a messy mop of a haircut and bad faicial hair, and generally appeared to be the black sheep of the basketballing family. A few years later, Marc Gasol is one of the best centers in the NBA, and he looks this.

It would be unfair to expect anything remotely similar from Adria Gasol anytime soon. Frankly, as Gary notes, it’s hard to tell whether Gasol is playing basketball because he wants to, or because he can do so while he studies engineering at one of the best schools in the country (and which just so happens to be the same city older brother Pau makes his living for the Los Angeles Lakers). Either way, he’s sure to be an LA fan favorite. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll discover a love and talent for the family business after all.

I mean, just look at old photos of Marc. You really never know.