Friday, April 14, 2006

Afflalo Decision To Come Soon

By Jill Painter, Staff Writer
L.A. Daily News

Sophomore guard Arron Afflalo will hold a news conference at UCLA next week to announce his decision regarding the NBA, his father Ben said. A UCLA spokesman confirmed a news conference, but the date is not set.

The Afflalos met with coach Ben Howland on Wednesday to discuss the future. Arron Afflalo has previously said that he would stay at UCLA for his junior season. Underclassmen have until April 29 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft.

Sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar has yet to make a decision on his status for next season.

Afflalo and Farmar guided UCLA on a surprising run to the NCAA title game, in which the Bruins lost to Florida.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Next Stop For Some Bruins, the NBA?

By Bruin Basketball Report

With the end of a remarkable UCLA basketball season culminating with a Final Four championship game, several Bruin basketball players have important decisions to make in the upcoming months which will acutely impact their basketball careers.

While graduating seniors Cedric Bozeman, Ryan Hollins, Michael Fey, and Janou Rubin are contemplating what may be in store for them next in their careers, sophomores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo have demonstrated the level of talent and upside to attract the attention of NBA scouts this year.

According to some sources, both Bozeman and Hollins may have a chance to make an NBA roster next season as well.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland has vowed to do everything in his power to help Bozeman with the next step in his basketball career.

Although Bozeman has said he will play professionally, most likely overseas, one person who says it’s too early to rule out Bozeman as an NBA player is Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson.

Olson heavily recruited Bozeman out of Mater Dei high school. "I do think he does have a future because the only question I've ever heard is whether he can shoot the ball," Olson said. "Well, he's proved this year he can shoot it. He's long, he plays hard, and he’s a great kid.”

"We need more people like that, frankly, in the NBA. He'd be a good team guy. He wouldn't be belly-aching about 'play me or trade me here,' only making a couple a million or so a year. I think he'd be happy to be in that position."

From an individual standpoint, seven-footer Ryan Hollins perhaps benefited the most from the Bruin’s NCAA Tournament run. The senior from Pasadena averaged 11.5 points on 80% field shooting and 6.5 rebounds per game during the tourney

As a result, mock drafts have Hollins being drafted in the second round of the NBA, impressive considering he was not on anyone’s radar screen at the beginning of the year.

Hollins has tremendous length and athleticism but still lacks strength to be an effective NBA post man where he will have trouble holding position in the lane against bigger opponents. With his size and athleticism he would be considered a project in the NBA but with a great upside.

For Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar, the decision whether to forego remaining collegiate eligibility will obviously be more difficult.

As a result of the NBA’s new draft rule which includes a 19-year-old eligibility age limit, this year's NBA draft will not be as deep since none of the top high school players will be eligible for the NBA draft this year prompting some collegiate players, especially those on the fence, to evaluate their opportunities more closely.

Underclassmen face an April 29 deadline to submit their names for the NBA draft. Those who do not hire agents can remove their names from the draft by June 18 and return to play in college. The NBA draft will take place on June 28.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said he will attempt to call every general manager in the NBA during this week to gauge interest in his starting guards.

"If the feeling is they are top-20 picks, that is something they would have to consider," Howland said. "We're always going to do what's in the best interest of our players,"

"They're going to make the decision. Jordan and Arron, and their families, will make a decision. Howland believed, “if they did return next year, they would be preseason All-Americans, without question.”

One general manager speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "Jordan Farmar is a bubble guy. He might go in the first round, and he might not. Arron Afflalo is a second-round pick.

Both sophomore players would be wise stay in school and continue to refine their games.

Farmar, although an exceptional floor leader, needs to improve on his outside shooting (41%) and cut down on his turnovers (1.4/1 assist/turnover ratio).

Afflalo, whose suffocating on ball defense alone is enough to earn him an NBA roster spot, needs to refine his offensive skills by learning how to get to the basket more consistently, and getting more patient and allow the game to come to him rather than forcing the issue at times.

One option both sophomores will be considering is whether to attend the NBA’s pre-draft tryouts in Orlando Florida (previously held in Chicago) from June 6-10.

At the tryouts they’ll each be given an evaluation of their basketball talent and chances of making it on an NBA roster.

However, the evaluation process carries its own risks. If a player has a glaring deficiency, the scouts will catch it at the tryouts, and they may not forget, leaving a lasting impression - sometimes a bad one.

According to Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough, any player leaving early could risk his NBA future if he does not play well in the pre-draft process.

Wildcat’s point guard Jason Gardner tested the 2001 draft as a sophomore and returned to school for two more years before he went undrafted in 2003.

"Every weakness he had was exposed, and those (NBA) guys didn't forget about it," Rosborough said. "That may have hurt him more in terms of his pro career than anything.”

The stakes are immense when one views the salary structure for NBA rookies.

Players not picked in the first round of the NBA draft are not assured of receiving guaranteed contracts, although some do. Thus a first round selection by a team is usually an assurance sought by an underclassman declaring early for the draft.

Only the first 18 selections of the first round are guaranteed contracts over $1,000,000 a year, the rest of the first round picks get a sliding scale down to $717,000 a year. While second round picks and un-drafted signees can make as low as $398,762 a year, the league minimum.

Trevor Ariza is an example of a college ball player who may have done better financially if he had stayed in school rather than declaring early for the NBA draft after his freshman year.

Ariza was drafted in the second round with the 43rd overall pick of the draft. He signed a two-year contract in 2004 which paid him $641,748 this year.

Many believe, including Coach Ben Howland, Ariza would have been a lottery pick if he had stayed one or two additional seasons at UCLA to refine his skills.

First round lottery picks are guaranteed at least a two year contact worth $1,157.000 annum with team options for two additional years.

With the April 29 deadline date to declare for the draft looming, a decision by both Afflalo and Farmar whether to enter the draft is forthcoming.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (4/10)

Prep News Roundup published periodically during the offseason.


MICDS point guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid saw what Harvard had to offer when he made an official visit, but on a recent trip to UCLA he felt more at home and found what he was looking for.So Abdul-Hamid committed to walk on to the UCLA basketball team rather than head to Harvard or any of the other schools recruiting him. Bruin Basketball Report 4/7


Don't be surprised if, part deux: UCLA wins the chase for Oregon juniors Kevin Love and Kyle Singler, who are merely the second-ranked power and small forward prospects, respectively, in the country. Mercury News 4/8

Former Bruin great Walt Hazzard, as requested by coach Howland, agreed last week to give up his No. 42 for recruit Kevin Love if he decides to sign with the Bruins. Love, a 6-foot-9-inch junior from Lake Oswego, Ore., is Howland's top recruit for the Class of 2007. Howland is forbidden by NCAA rules to talk about potential recruits, but he explained the situation. "We're recruiting a player right now – kids get attached to a number, which is understandable – who wears No. 42," Howland said. "So I asked permission from Walt and explained who this kid was, who I can't mention right now because it would be illegal, but he was great and very gracious. (He said) absolutely, whatever is going to help the program get a good player. That's what he wanted." Daily Bruin 4/6

OAK HILL TRANSFER: Alex Legion, a 6-4 swingman in Detroit, is expected to transfer to Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill. Legion had committed to Michigan, but has decided to re-open the recruiting process. At Oak Hill, Legion will play alongside guard Nolan Smith, who is committed to Duke, and 6-8 Mike Beasley, who is committed to Charlotte. The commitment by Beasley, ranked the No. 2 junior in the country by, might waver since new Kansas State coach Bob Huggins has added Charlotte assistant Dalonte Hill to his staff. Legion is ranked No. 11 and Smith No. 16 by News and Observer 4/9

Michigan officials are not allowed to comment on unsigned recruits. During his previous recruitment, Alex Legion was also considering Illinois, North Carolina, UCLA and Michigan State. But the Spartans may no longer be a consideration after they received verbals from three Class of 2007 guard/wing players in December and January. Detroit Free Press 4/6

Alex Legion's short-term plan is to leave the state.The question is if his long-range plans still include Michigan.Legion, one of the Michigan's top high school basketball players, will transfer from Detroit Country Day to Oak Hill (Va.) Academy for his senior season. And he has withdrawn his oral commitment to attend U-M, his mother, Annette Williams, said Wednesday night.Legion was unavailable for comment.Tim Green, Legion's AAU coach with whom Legion has been living, declined comment.Legion, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, was ranked No. 6 in The Detroit News' preseason Top 25, the highest rating of any junior.This past season he was named first-team Class B All-State for the second consecutive season. The Detroit News 4/6

Alex Legion, who committed to Michigan last November and is regarded as the state's top junior, reopened his recruiting Wednesday according to He'll also transfer from Detroit Country Day to Oak Hill (Va.) Academy. Legion was the highest-profile recruit Michigan coach Tommy Amaker landed since arriving in Ann Arbor in 2001, ranked No. 11 in the country by and No. 15 by He's a 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard, who Legion's mentor and guardian, Tim Green, described as a cross between NBA stars Ray Allen and Tracy McGrady. MLive 4/6

More stars who have reopened their recruitment in the wake of coaching changes are top-50 junior guard Chris Wright (de-committed from N.C. State) and top-150 senior Lawrence Westbrook (Iowa State), among others. Then again, the de-commitments are a common occurrence with or without coaching turnover. Prized Michigan commitment Alex Legion, a top-25 junior, is transferring to Oak Hill Academy and inviting new schools to evaluate — and no doubt offer a scholarship — him this spring and summer. USA Today 4/10

The South Bay's top scorer was Westchester's Brett Goodwell with nine points. Leuzinger's Russell Westbrook had six points and Carson's Cal State Fullerton-bound Marcellus Cullors had five points."It's a great opportunity to play in games like this and give people a show and represent for our cities," Westbrook said. "Unfortunately, we didn't win." Daily Breeze 4/9


(photo credit: Community Student Athlete SCORE Michael Sackett)