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UCLA High-Post Offense

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

The UCLA High-Post Offense is an offense used against man-to-man defenses. It was developed by legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, "the Wizard of Westwood", whose teams won ten NCAA championships in his last twelve years of coaching during the 1960's and early 1970's. This timeless "West-Coast" offense is still a good one and is popular at the college level. It uses a 2-3 high set (two-guard front). This high set, like the 1-4 high set, takes defenders away from the hoop. If you have tall guards, this offense allows you to post up your guards, and with a two-guard front, there is less pressure on your point guard, as the offense can be run to either side.

Basic Set and UCLA Cut

Diagram A shows the basic 2-3 high set. As the ball is passed to O2, O4 makes an "L-cut" and receives the pass from O2 (diagram B). O5 moves to ball-side elbow. O2 makes the classic "UCLA cut" off the high post O5, for a possible pass and drive to the hoop. Notice in diagram C how the weak-side rotates as O1 slides opposite and O3 drops inside. Of course, this could also be run to the right with O3 making the L-cut and receiving the pass from O1, while O1 makes the UCLA cut up the right side of the lane.

You will hear coaches refer to the term "UCLA cut" with other offenses as well, and this is just what a "UCLA cut" is... a top of the key perimeter player making a basket cut off a high post screen as seen in diagram C.


High-Post Step-Out and Pass

Diagram D. If the pass to the cutter is not there, then O5 steps out and gets the pass from the wing. The wing O4 down-screens for O2, and O2 cuts back out to the perimeter. O3 tries to post up with a "duck-in" move and could get the hi-lo pass from O5. Otherwise, O5 makes a quick reversal pass to O1, as O3 seals and posts-up inside, again looking for the pass for O1.

Another option here is the low post split. O2 and O3 cut around O4 for possible passes and scoring opportunities. O2 could cut low (as seen in the diagram), or walk his/her defender down toward the corner and then cut high over O4... it all depends on how the X2 defender is playing O2.

UCLA Set - Double Screen Down

Defensive Read... High-Post Denial

But what if the X5 defender denies the pass to O5 as seen in diagram E? First, a simple counter is the O5 back-cut and lob with O5 simply back-cutting to the hoop for a lob pass from O4. This has a better chance of being open if O2 moves toward the corner and takes his defender away from the hoop.

Diagram E. Notice that when O5 is denied the pass at the high post, O1 has to recognize this and cut high on top for the pass from the wing, as O3 rotates back out to the opposite wing. If the pass goes to O1, O4 and O5 set double down-screens for O2 (diagram F). O2 curls around the double-screen for the pass from O1 and the shot. Notice that O3 L-cuts to the weak-side elbow. This will set up a possible weak-side "two-man game".

UCLA set - Top Pass

Weak-side "Two-Man" Game

Notice in diagrams G and H, we have a situation the looks much like the triangle offense. O1 and O3 run a "two-man game". Two options are seen here. In diagram G, O1 passes to O3 and cuts around O3 for a possible hand-off and dribble-drive to the hoop. If the pass to O3 is denied (diagram H), O1 dribbles around O3 and runs a pick and roll with O3.

There are actually twelve possible two-man weak-side options here... six on the pass to O3 and six on the dribble at O3. These options are described and diagrammed in detail on the "Triangle Offense" page, under Weakside Two-Man Game.

UCLA Set - 2-Man game

Defensive Read... Wing-Pass Denial

Pressure defenses often deny the pass to the wing. To counter this, O1 simply dribbles to the wing, and our wings O3 and O4 back-cut to the low blocks (diagram I). There could be a quick pass from O1 to O3 on the back-cut. Once O1 is on the wing, O1 could pass to O3 posting inside. If O3 does not receive the post pass, he/she screens away for O4 (diagram J), and O4 cuts to the ball-side block for a possible post pass from O1. Meanwhile, O5 down-screens for O3 ("screen-the-screener") and O3 cuts around O5 for a possible pass and shot (diagram K).

UCLA set - Wings Denied

Guard-Around Lob-Pass Option

Diagram L. If the X2 defender is denying and bumping O2 on the UCLA cut, instead of making the UCLA cut, O2 passes to O4 and cuts outside and around O4 and gets the hand-off from O4. Meanwhile, the opposite wing O3 cuts all the way through to the ball-side corner, taking the X3 defender along. This really opens up the lane. O5 back-screens for O4, and O4 cuts around O5 for a possible lob pass from O2 (diagram M).

Diagram N. If the lob-pass is not open, O5 back-screens for O2 and O2 dribble-drives around O5 to the hoop for the shot, dump-pass to O4, or kick-out pass to O1 who has moved down to the corner area.

UCLA set - Guard-Around Lob-Pass Option

Defensive Read... Guard to Guard Pass Denial

Diagram O shows X2 denying the pass to O2. O4 must recognize this and V-cut inside and the flash to the ball for the pass from O1. O2 then quickly cuts around O4 for the hand-off and dribble-drive to the hoop.

UCLA set - X-Cut

High-Post "X-Cut"

Either guard O1 or O2 could pass to the high-post O5. Both guards then "X-cut" around O5. The passer cuts first and the wing on the passer's side clears through to the opposite side. In diagram P, O1 passes to O5 and O3 clears opposite. O1 cuts around O5 for a possible hand-off and dribble-drive. Next (diagram Q), O2 cuts around O5 for a possible hand-off and dribble-drive. If O5 keeps the ball, he/she could shot-fake and dribble-drive to the hoop as well, as O2 clears to the corner.

The UCLA High-Post Offense remains an effective offense today that is relatively simple, and with good moves to counter a pressuring, denying defense.

Helpful DVD

Return to Glory - UCLA Practice Organization & Drills
Return to Glory - UCLA Practice Organization & Drills
with Swen Nater, John Wooden-coached player, Only college player in history to be drafted in the 1st round of the ABA/NBA draft without ever having started a college game. ABA Rookie of the Year ('74).

Swen Nater experienced championship level basketball as a center during the glory years of UCLA basketball under Coach John Wooden. For the first time ever, the components of the championship UCLA practices are broken down and demonstrated. Nater dedicates a large percentage of this DVD demonstrating drills that Coach Wooden ran during practice... The famous UCLA high post offense is broken down and explained, and, Nater also discusses the teaching points of the Bruin fast break offense... (more info)

Price: $39.99
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