Saturday, June 03, 2006

Getting Back Into Shipp Shape

By Bruin Basketball Report

According to ESPN, UCLA guard/forward Josh Shipp has been cleared for full contact practice with the team.

Shipp injured himself in a summer game last year and had arthroscopic surgery in September on his right hip to repair a torn labrum (cartilage) and to remove a bone spur.

He attempted a return to the team last December and was in the Bruin starting line-up for the Pac-10 opener against Stanford at Pauley Pavilion.

However four games after his return, Shipp announced the pain in his surgically repaired hip was unmangeable and he would sit out the rest of the 2005-06 season to apply for a medical red-shirt.

Shipp's return to the UCLA roster for the 2006-07 season would help solidify a backcourt which may lose one or two of its top guards, Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, to the NBA draft this year.

From most reports, Farmar is still projected as a middle to late first-round draft choice, while word from Afflalo's workouts with NBA teams indicates he would be a second round draft selection.

Both players have maintained throughout the NBA draft try-out process they would only stay in the draft if they were guarenteed a spot in the first round.

Shipp averaged 9.3 and 5.2 rebounds as a freshman. In four games during his injury-plagued sophomore season, he averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 46% from three-point distance.

In an interview with Shipp, he indicated full confidence in teammate point-guard Darren Collison's ability to run the team next season if Farmar decided to leave for the NBA this year.

"We'll be quicker and we'll pick up the tempo," Shipp said of playing with Collison if Farmar leaves. "He's a good point-guard who got good experience during the Final Four."

Collison averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 assists in 19 minutes per contest last season. He played in every contest along with two other Bruins, a team-record 39 games.


(photo credit: AP)

Friday, June 02, 2006

No Reason To Party If They're Coming Out

By Bill Plaschke
L.A. Times

The last time they played together in the same town, it was April in Indianapolis, and it was so cool.

Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, carrying tradition to within two hours of another national title, carrying teamwork into every conversation, carrying themselves like concrete and steel.

They were more than old-fashioned UCLA guards, they were symbols of a new UCLA era.

"This is just the start," Afflalo said.

On Thursday, they played in the same town again, only it was June in El Segundo, and it was so weird.

Farmar was at Toyota Sports Center, working out for the Lakers.

Afflalo was at the Spectrum Club, working out for the Clippers.

It wasn't the start, but quite possibly the end.

They were still symbols, but of something entirely different.

Two sophomores who once represented everything special about college sports were suddenly representing everything that is scary.

They are both considering turning pro even though neither is a certain first-round pick, and even though many of the game's top personnel experts are counseling them to stay in school.

Scouts say they need another year in the UCLA weight room.

Front-office types say they need another year of Ben Howland fundamentals.

Everyone agrees that their value will increase with another year in a winning UCLA program.

History says career-ending injuries suffered by top college athletes are rare.

In the end, the choice should be clear.

Yeah, as clear as the message blaring from the kids' iPods and advisors.

"Today, everybody wants everything now, now, now," said Bruins Coach Howland. "It's hard to understand patience."

This being the first year of age restrictions that will prevent high school seniors from being drafted, Farmar and Afflalo clearly can see a brief window of opportunity.

If they are taken in the first round, they will get guaranteed contracts in excess of $1 million, and who would turn that down?

But there are potential pitfalls for each.

Afflalo is not a slam dunk to be drafted at all — not even in the second and final round, where contracts are not guaranteed and projects could end up in the minor leagues.

"It was a shock to everyone when Afflalo declared himself eligible," said Jonathan Givony, president of "He's just not ready yet."

As for Farmar, most experts agree that he will be, at best, the 23rd of 30 picks in the first round. That would net him around $1.6 million, which would make him rich, except for one thing.

When you are slotted that low in the first round, the fall to the second round is short and quick.

"When you're in the 20s, you could just as easily be in the 30s," said Mitch Kupchak, general manager of the Lakers. "And when you're in the 30s, you're in no-man's land."

Kupchak believes that unless an underclassman is a guaranteed top-14 lottery pick, the decision should be to stay in school.

"I've seen many good players who could have been great players if they stayed in school," Kupchak said. "Instead, they come out early and get pushed aside."

One such player was JaRon Rush, the promising UCLA forward who played only one full college season, turned pro in 2000, then disappeared.

Contrast him with Brandon Roy, the Washington star who would have been a second-round pick last season. He stayed in school for his senior year, and now could be a top-five pick.

"This is what I would say to any kid," said Jeff Fellenzer, a local basketball insider who teaches a sports business and media class at USC. "Do you want use the JaRon Rush model, or the Brandon Roy model?"

Perhaps complicating the decision, particularly for Farmar, is the fear that he will not be able to show his skills in Howland's restrictive offense.

"Some believe that if Farmar goes back to UCLA, he will not get a lot of numbers in that system, and he won't be able to improve his standing," Givony said.

I once wondered that myself. But having spoken to several NBA officials, I wonder no more.

Howland and his system can be tough and tedious.

But he clearly teaches. He clearly cares. His kids clearly improve, and his program is clearly going to be a continual winner.

The words echo from NBA office to sideline, from officials who have spoken countless times to Howland this spring during the coach's quest to help Farmar and Afflalo make the right decision.

Playing for him can only make you better. Staying with him can only make you richer.

"I remember people saying the same thing about Dean Smith, about how his system inhibits players, and look at who he produced," said Kupchak, speaking of his former coach at North Carolina. "We can evaluate players in any system. And we love players who come from a winning system."

Farmar and Afflalo have until June 18 to decide whether they want to roll the dice, or remain in that type of system.

Farmar is not granting interviews, but Afflalo said, "I'm not leaning one way or the other. I'm just waiting for feedback from a couple of people. In the end, the decision's going to be very easy."

No matter what happens, April will seem long ago, and Indianapolis will be far away.

(reprinted with permission)


Afflalo Remains Undecided

By Brian Dohn
L.A. Daily News

Arron Afflalo's last scheduled NBA workout is today with the Clippers, but the UCLA guard said he will wait until after next week's NBA predraft camp to decide whether he will return for his junior season.

Afflalo, who said he turned down an invitation to the June 6-10 camp, has struggled in workouts for NBA teams, according to several sources. He has worked out for the Lakers, Indiana, Chicago and Cleveland.

"It went pretty good," Afflalo said. "It wasn't spectacular, and you know me, I'm never going to be happy. But the workouts were pretty good."

Several mock drafts do not have Afflalo in the first round. Sources close to Afflalo said they expect him to return to UCLA next season, but, as one source said, "things can always change."

Afflalo, who is trying to arrange a workout with Memphis, reiterated he would not leave UCLA unless he was guaranteed to be a first-round pick.

"I would be foolish to do that," he said.

One thing Afflalo said he learned through the workouts was that he must get in better basketball shape.

"I realized there's a difference in being in basketball shape," Afflalo said. "I did a lot of running on the track to get in shape, but I need to spend more time on the basketball court."

UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar will work out for the Phoenix Suns today, Bruins coach Ben Howland said. While Farmar is expected to go to the predraft camp in Orlando to go through testing, it is uncertain whether he also will play there.

Farmar is not granting interviews until he announces a decision. The deadline for players to remove their names from the NBA draft is June 18. The draft is June 28.

(reprinted with permission)


Thursday, June 01, 2006

One-on-One with UCLA Coach Ben Howland

By Steve Galluzzo, Sports Editor

UCLA Coach to Host Camp in Palisades

When it comes to rebuilding a program, UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland is as good as anyone on the hardwood. In just his third season with the Bruins, Howland was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year after guiding his youthful team to the conference title and its first NCAA Finals appearance since 1995. He is one of only a few coaches to lead three different schools to the NCAA tournament, having previously done it at Northern Arizona in 1998 and Pittsburgh in 2002 and 2003.

In July, Howland and his staff will host a youth basketball camp at Palisades High. In an interview with Palisadian-Post Sports Editor Steve Galluzzo last week, Howland shared his thoughts about the Bruins' remarkable season, his upcoming camp and his future at UCLA:

PP: Why did you decide to host your basketball camp in the Palisades?

BH: We wanted to have another camp in addition to what we're allowed to do on campus. A lot of kids from that area are interested in UCLA basketball so we thought it would be a good fit. This will be our first year [at Palisades High] and we hope to have it there for many years to come.

PP: What do you hope to achieve through your youth camps?

BH: To expose young kids to the game of basketball. We want them to learn the fundamentals and have fun with it. I'll be there every day. We'll have different guest speakers coming in. We've put together a great staff and I'm looking forward to it.

PP: Do you have any personal connections to Palisades High?

BH: Sure. [Boys varsity coach] James Paleno has worked at our camps ever since I've been here. He's a very good coach. I also have friends in the administration like Rose Gilbert. She's a huge UCLA fan and it's neat that she's still there teaching English. I also know Ann Davenport, the head counselor. Her son played for me when I was an assistant at UC Santa Barbara.

PP: Now that you've had time to reflect, can you put last season in perspective?

BH: I'm very pleased with the year we had. Winning the Pac-10 championship, winning the Pac-10 tournament and getting UCLA to the Final Four for only the second time in 25 years is something to be proud of, especially considering the adversity we went through and all the injuries we had. The only disappointment is that we didn't win our last game against Florida.

PP: Did you think you would enjoy so much success so quickly at UCLA?

BH: At both Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh we won the conference championship in my third year. We've done the same here and that was our expectation. Usually by your third year you expect to be good so I'm very excited.

PP: How would you compare the Pac-10 to other conferences, like the Big East?

BH: I'd say it's pretty similar. There might be a little more physicality in the east in terms of how they allow you to play. In the past, west coast teams have been at a disadvantage in the NCAA tournament because they weren't accustomed to that style but not as much now. Top to bottom, we're as strong as any conference in the country.

PP: Do you subscribe to the so-called "east coast" bias among the media?

BH: I think it still exists but hopefully we helped change that. The thing that hurts us most is the time change. People in the east don't get to see us as much because by the time our games start it is 10:30 at night there.

PP: How difficult is it to keep your best players from leaving school early?

BH: Football is so different because kids have to stay for three years. In basketball they only have to stay for one year beyond their high school graduating class. So it's a much different deal. It comes down to what is best for our players. If a kid is able to go to the NBA as a top 20 pick and the team that has chosen him has made a real commitment to him, then yes, he needs to consider that. Two of our best kids [Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo] are working out with NBA teams right now and will have to make a decision. Adam Morrison of Gonzaga is a great example of a player who benefited from an extra year in college. If he had come out last year he would've been 16th or 17th in the draft. This year he's going be a top three pick for sure. But every situation is unique.

PP: What is your philosophy in terms of recruiting?

BH: There is so much talent right here in L.A. so it starts locally and branches out. You always looking for the best players, however you have to meet your position needs too. We look for kids who are good players, good athletes and who are coachable. On top of all that they have to be good students. Not everybody can make it here academically. We find kids all the time that I'd like to recruit except they simply don't have the grades.

PP: Do you feel more pressure to win now that you're coaching at UCLA?

BH: It's more about what you put on yourself than any pressure you might feel from the alumni or the fans. I knew what I was getting into. This school has the greatest tradition in all of college basketball so of course the expectations are higher.

PP: Are you pleased with how the sport has evolved over the years?

BH: It's become a global game. Just look at the Olympics and how many good teams there are. It's no longer the United States and everybody else. We expect to be the best because basketball was invented here but we have our work cut out for us. Ours is the greatest game going for both spectators and players and the world has picked up on that. They say soccer is No. 1 worldwide but we're gaining.

PP: Do you see yourself coaching in the NBA someday?

BH: I get asked that question a lot but the truth is I'm very happy here. This is right where I want to be. I want to be just like [former UCLA coach] John Wooden--I want to finish my career at UCLA.

(Ben Howland's Palisades camp will run from July 17-21 at Palisades High. It is open to boys and girls ages 6-12. For more information call 310-279-8303 or visit the web site:

(reprinted with permission)


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mata To Undergo Knee Surgery

By Bruin Basketball Report

Lorenzo Mata will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee when the current school session ends in June, and is expected to be held out of basketball-related activities for at least a month.

Mata had been complaining about right knee soreness and it is the same knee he injured against Washington St. in January, but the injuries are reportedly not related.

In the game against the Cougars, Mata collided with guard Jordan Farmar in the second half and sufferred a non-displaced right tibial plateau fracture of the right knee.

Although Mata had not been expected to return from the injury until the following season, he made remarkable progress during his rehabilitation and helped the Bruins towards their march to the NCAA championship final game.

Mata, who will be a junior next season, will compete for the starting center spot in the fall. He averaged 3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks while playing 14 minutes a contest in 21 games last season.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (5/29)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup published periodically during the offseason.


What else can you do to stop the Southern California All-Stars? For the third time in the AAU season, the answer is nothing. The boys from the West Coast came to North Carolina for the Tournament of Champions and dominated the field to claim back-to-back championships. [...] From start to finish, there hasn't been a better player at the TOC than Brandon Jennings. The sophomore point guard dazzled the crowd in the championship game with his athleticism, passing skills and overall feel for the game. He glues the talent all together like few point guards, regardless of class, can. Jennings finished with 16 points in the title game. He makes the difficult shots look elementary. There isn't a point guard with the kind of athleticism that he brings to the table. The beneficiary of so many great Jennings passes was Kevin Love, the official tournament MVP. Love scored the high percentage buckets because Jennings put him into position to get the easy scores.Love has been one of the most dominant players on the AAU circuit this spring. He has the championship trophies to prove it. There are few players that can say they have back-to-back championships at the Kingwood Classic and the Tournament of Champions. Love can. Gator Bait 5/28

Day Two of the Memorial Day Classic revealed how many top prospects react to pressure-packed situations. [...] The highest-ranked prospect in the event, Kyle Singler (No. 6 in 2007), didn't make it to the second round either, but he still managed to leave a lasting impression. Despite sitting out much of the first half with foul trouble, Singler nearly carried the Portland Legends past the ultra-talented Boo Williams team, which held on for a 65-62 win. Singler poured in a game-high 24 points, scoring in transition and also relying on his soft shooting touch. [...] Point guard Jordan Crawford went 9-of-9 from the free throw line and scored 16 points. Michigan State-commit Kalin Lucas chipped in nine and top 50 prospect Corperryale Harris added eight more. Hickory Husker 5/28

Think stats don't matter in the world of AAU basketball? Don't tell the folks at the Memorial Day Classic. [...] Kyle Singler, who is ranked the No. 6 prospect in the class of 2007, didn't disappoint in his opening game either. Singler scored a game-high 24 points against All-Ohio and the Portland Legends needed every single one to hold on for a 56-55 win. He also added seven boards. Gator Bait 5/28

Saturday at the Tournament of Champions provided several fireworks from all of the classes. [...] Brandon Jennings, Southern California All-Stars – He's so good, he just toys with people. The rising junior pilots the superstar SCA ship like a seasoned veteran and his understanding of the game is second to none. Ball-handling? Jennings went through the Memphis Magic defense like he was the one with the tricks up his sleeve. There is even talk amongst media row of Jennings as the top overall prospect in 2008. Jennings has made a strong case from start to now on the AAU circuit. But has he played good enough? That answer is still up for grabs. [...] Alex Legion, Michigan Hurricanes – Things were clicking on Saturday for the four-star guard. After having a mediocre spring showing, the athletic and smooth wing went to work with four three-pointers and countless drives to the basketball for scores. With his future head coach Steve Smith of Oak Hill watching from the stands, Legion played like the Legion of last year. If that happens, then that is good news for the host of high-majors that have him on the short list. Legion scored 24 points against Team Philly. Gator Bait 5/28

"Kevin Love is the number one player that I've seen in the Class of '07, and that includes (highly regarded guard) O.J. Mayo," Gibbons said Friday night.Despite that, Love might be the third-most famous man in his family. An uncle, Mike Love, was a member of the Beach Boys. His father, Stan Love, played in the NBA for the Baltimore Bullets and Los Angeles Lakers. He also played at the University of Oregon, and taught his son fundamentals early. Kevin said there are baby pictures of him with a basketball, and Stan had him watching Larry Bird instead of Big Bird growing up.Love said he won't rush his college decision, and probably won't commit until the end of the summer. He has narrowed his choices to 2006 NCAA runner-up UCLA and 2005 NCAA champion North Carolina, and if he has a favorite he isn't revealing it. Charlotte Observer 5/27

Kevin Love has decided on light blue. Aside from that, he's not so sure. Love, a 6-9 forward from Lake Oswego High in Oregon, is visiting the Triangle this weekend for the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. Ranked the No. 1 player in the country for the Class of 2007 by Gibbons, Love helped lead the Southern California All-Stars to an 86-47 victory over Texas Top Prospects at the Smith Center on Friday night. Love, an AAU teammate of Duke commitment Taylor King and Class of 2008 phenom Brandon Jennings, has narrowed his list of colleges to North Carolina and UCLA. "It's still going to take a while, but this definitely influences my decision," he said, surrounded by a pack of reporters after walking off the court following his team's victory. "Coming out here has opened my eyes and my family's eyes also. I mean, L.A. and N.C. are the two places I'm looking at right now, and there's so many pros and cons in both places." Herald Sun 5/27

Greg Hicks' quick hitters from the West: The first annual Arizona Cactus Classic was held last weekend at the University of Arizona and there was plenty of talent on hand. The MVP of the tournament was James Harden, a 6-5 junior shooting guard from Artesia High in Lakewood, Calif. Harden has a very well-rounded game and he does just about everything well. He should have a great shot at making the McDonald's All-American game next year. Harden's list of schools consists of Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Texas. Fox Sports 5/27

One day after an NCAA announcement that hampered first-year Indiana University basketball coach Kelvin Sampson from recruiting for the next calendar year, Sampson landed Phil Jones, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound center from Laurinburg Academy in North Carolina. Jones, ranked 106th in the top 150 prep players in the country, confirmed that he mailed his formal scholarship agreement to IU Friday, according to the Indianapolis Star. Jones did not sign a letter of intent in the April signing period. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette 5/27

The Class of 2007 has been called the "Year of the Guard" and the Memorial Day Classic will offer a great example of why. It includes the nation's No. 3-ranked prospect Derrick Rose, Michigan State-commit Kalin Lucas (No. 13), Florida-commit Nick Calathes (No. 17), and Chris Wright (No. 21). Three other guards who are ranked among the top 50 are also expected to play, E'Twaun Moore (No. 30), Jai Lucas (No. 42) and Corperryale Harris (No. 45). Blue Demons Nation 5/26

Among the top players in this year's event are 6-foot-9 post player Kevin Love and 6-foot-0 speedy point guard Brandon Jennings of the Southern California All-Stars. Love and Jennings are both being highly recruited and look to showcase their talents on the east coast for the first time this AAU season. GoAZCats 5/26

Kevin Love of the Southern California All-Stars also could attract plenty of attention from UNC fans -- he already has from the team's coaching staff. Love, a 6-9 post player from Lake Oswego, Ore., is Gibbons' No. 1 player in the Class of 2007. He plans to use this weekend to visit the campuses at UNC and Duke, Gibbons said, but UNC and UCLA are thought to be his favorites. "He reminds me of Sean May with a little more skills as a high school player," Gibbons said. "He's got great hands. They call him Unseld Jr. because his dad played pro ball with Wes Unseld, and he has a great outlet pass. He's exceptionally gifted." Herald Sun 5/26

This year, King's team also features 6-foot-9 Kevin Love, a consensus top-five player from Lake Oswego, Ore., and highly regarded sophomore point guard Brandon Jennings of Compton, Calif. Southern California has won prestigious tournaments in Las Vegas and Kingwood, Texas, this year."We have the best big man in the country in Kevin Love, and Brandon Jennings is best point guard in the class of 2008," King said. Charlotte Observer 5/26

Kevin Love, a 6-9 power forward and center from Lake Oswego, Ore., who Gibbons ranks No. 1 among rising seniors, will make an unofficial visit to UNC."He's a very skilled and talented basketball player," Gibbons said of Love. "He's 6-9, he's lost weight and is down to about 245, and he reminds me of Sean May. He's a Sean May type with better quickness. He has great hands like Sean May and is a more powerful guy as a high-school player."Love will play for the Southern California All-Stars, the defending champions in the 17-and-under division. Also playing for Southern California will be Taylor King, a high-scoring 6-7 forward from Santa Ana, Calif., who has committed to Duke and is ranked among Gibbons' top 10. Winston-Salem Journal 5/26

invited to U18 trials Kyle Singler of South Medford is among 22 players nationwide who will compete for a slot on the USA Basketball Men's U18 national team. The trials, to be held June 16-18 in San Antonio will be used to select a squad that then will compete for the U.S. in the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship June 28 through July 2. Singler, a 6-foot-8 junior who is considered one of the top recruiting prospects in the nation, participated in the 2005 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival last summer in San Diego. Oregonian 5/26

2006 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team Slots. Accepting invitations to participate in the USA U18 Trials were: Cole Aldrich (Bloomington Jefferson H.S., Minn./Kansas); Chris Allen (Meadowcreek H.S., Ga./Michigan State); Jerryd Bayless (St. Mary's H.S., Ariz./Arizona); Michael Beasley (Oak Hill Academy, Va./Charlotte); Joevan Catron (Thornton Township H.S., Ill./Oregon); Johnny Flynn (Niagara Falls H.S., N.Y./Syracuse); Drew Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S., Calif./Undecided); Donte Greene (Towson Catholic H.S, Md./Syracuse); Blake Griffin (Oklahoma Christian/Oklahoma); Spencer Hawes (Seattle Prep, Wash./ Washington); James Hickson (Southwest Atlanta Christian, Ga. /Undecided); Gary Johnson (Aldine H.S., Texas /Undecided); Taylor King (Mater Dei H.S., Calif./Duke); Gani Lawal (Norcross H.S., Ga./Georgia Tech); Tajuan Porter (Renaissance H.S., Mich./Oregon); Reggie Redding (St. Joseph Prep H.S., Pa./ Villanova); Stanley Robinson (Huffman H.S., Ala./Connecticut); Kyle Singler (South Medford H.S., Ore./Undecided); Nolan Smith (Oak Hill Academy, Va./Duke); DaJuan Summers (McDonogh School, Md./Georgetown); Lance Thomas (St. Benedict's H.S., N.J./Undecided); Julian Vaughn (Reston South Lakes H.S., Va./Undecided). CSTV 5/26

Tournament of Champions (TOC) attracts big names again. Memorial Day Weekend in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area can mean only one thing. It is Tournament of Champions time. The campuses of North Carolina, Duke and NC State are taken over by some of the nation's top prospects and this year's field is loaded once again. [...] It is a yearly tradition during the Memorial Day Weekend. A number of top prospects will also mix in an unofficial visit to Duke, North Carolina or North Carolina State. Perhaps the biggest name on campus is Kevin Love. Cardinal Sports 5/25

After a 2005-06 season in which Arizona had some significant problems shooting the ball, the UA coaches are trying to make sure the problem isn't repeated in the future. For the 2007 recruiting class, Arizona plans on bringing in a shooter. One option is Zane Johnson who is one of the top shooters in the country and the UA just happens to be his dream school. GoAZCats 5/25

Top 2008 Performers at the Cactus Classic including: Jerime Anderson, Luke Babbit, Jrue Holiday. The first annual Cactus Classic held at the University of Arizona was loaded with top talent from the West Coast and many of them turned in impressive performances. Gator Bait 5/24

Top 2007 Performers at the Cactus Classic including: James Harden, Kamyron Brown. The first annual Cactus Classic held at the University of Arizona was loaded with top talent from the West Coast and many of them turned in impressive performances. It was a sign of great things to come for this event. Blue Demons Nation 5/24

Kevin Love, PF, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High School. Enthusiasm for Love is growing as he improves his body. He was thick and earthbound at the Reebok ABCD Camp last summer -- partly because of a knee problem -- but still showed off amazing skills in the low post. One analyst,'s Jeff Goodman, went so far as to suggest that Love's return to health and improved conditioning had allowed him to pass Mayo as a prospect. That's a bit rich, but Love is a powerful rebounder and passes out of double-teams with flair. North Carolina is fighting UCLA to land him. Sporting News 5/24

Recruit Luke Babbitt liked what he saw, and that's one of the benefits for UA in hosting some of the nation's top high school basketball players at the Arizona Cactus Classic. Last weekend's inaugural tourney, involving about 350 players, gave stars such as Babbitt of Reno, Nev., the chance to see McKale Center and get a feel for the city. "The weather was great and so was the campus," said Babbitt, a 6-foot-7 forward from Reno's Galena High. Babbitt, a left-handed shooter who has a busy summer AAU schedule ahead, called the tourney here "a good trip." It would have been a better trip had his team - the Las Vegas Prospects - made the championship game, but it fell in the semifinals. Other schools after Babbitt include Texas, Syracuse, Duke, UCLA and Washington. Arizona "is up there," he said. "But I haven't narrowed it down. I don't want to make a time when I'll decide. I'll take it slow, but if the right school comes along, I don't think I'll wait." Tucson Citizen 5/23