Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Collison Will Need Help At Point

By Bruin Basketball Report

With Jordan Farmar's decision to enter the NBA draft and forego his final two years of college eligibility, the UCLA coaching staff will be spending the next few months evaluating the Bruin point guard situation.

Although Coach Ben Howland said he had not yet spent much time thinking about the Bruins' options at the point, he did state the obvious - Darren Collision would be the starting point guard next season.

Collison had a solid freshman campaign in which he averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 assists per game, and was an honorable mention on the All Pac-10 Freshman team.

The former Etiwanda High star unexpectedly saw major minutes last season when Farmar suffered multiple ankle injuries.

Collison averaged 19.2 minutes per contest and was one of only three Bruins to play in all 39 games last season which included gaining valuable experience during the NCAA tournament.

When the Bruin half-court offense often stalled, Collison would be inserted into the lineup to change the tempo of the game and open up the floor with his speed.

Moverover, Collison’s defense improved as the season progressed.

In the opening games of the season, Collison often gambled or was found out of position on defense, but as he learned the importance of staying in front of his man - he began to harass opponents into deflection or turnovers with his quick hands and feet.

Collison will be looked upon to regularly play 30-35 minutes next season.

He is working hard to add bulk to his thin frame, and has reportedly already gained 10-15 lbs since the end of last season.

But Collison will need help at the point, and it appears the competition for the spot is wide-open.

A single player may emerge to be the back-up for Collison, but more likely, the spot may be filled by a committee of players.

Below is the list of potential candidates for the job:

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook, a 6’3 175 lb incoming freshman, averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assist in his senior year, but he also committed 3.6 turnovers per game.

The former Leuzinger standout handles the ball extremely well, possesses an excellent mid-range shot, and is a strong man-to-man defender.

Westbrook would be the most natural candidate to back-up at the point; however, he must demonstrate to the coaching staff he can take good care of the ball and show the court vision and decision-making skills of a point guard at the Division 1 level.

Arron Afflalo

Afflalo played some point in high school and filled in at the spot for UCLA during his freshman year after Cedric Bozeman went down with an injury.

However, Afflalo tends to play a little “too fast” and sometimes out of control when he’s handling the ball – it's a part of his game NBA scouts told him he needed to improve upon next year.

On the other hand, the Bruins need Afflalo to be a scorer from the wing, and of course, be their primary defensive stopper - it may be asking too much of Arron to run the team as well.

Josh Shipp

Besides Darren Collison, Shipp is without a doubt the Bruins’ best ballhandler returning to the team next season.

He has the ability to effectively take defenders off the dribble to get to the basket, and is an excellent passer with good court vision.

With a healthy Shipp already slated to play the 2 and 3 position next season, it would not be surprising if he saw time at the point as well, especially if the younger players are unable to step up.

Mustafa Abdul-Hamid

Abdul-Hamid is a 6’2 walk-on recruit from the Saint Louis area. He caught Coach Howland’s attention at last year’s Bruin skills summer camp.

He averaged 22.8 points per game as a senior in high school, and Coach Howland has called him “one of the more underrated guards in the nation”.

Abdul-Hamid received multiple scholarship offers from Division II schools, but if he is as good as Howland projects, he may provide the Bruins needed depth at the position.


(photo credit: AP)


At Jun 20, 2006, 9:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UCLA will be just fine at the point. Collison will be bigger and better next year, and the Bruins have options to back-up.

I will miss Farmar but we'll still be a top 10 team.

At Jun 20, 2006, 10:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Westbrook and Arron will split time at the point, unless Hamid comes in stronger than we expect.

At Jun 26, 2006, 12:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are going to have a great season. Howland is going to work his magic and we'll be back in the tourney for sure this next season. Can't wait!


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