Friday, July 28, 2006

Learning To Take Their Best Shots

By Steve Galluzzo, Sports Editor
Palisadian Post

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland recently held a basketball camp for boys and girls ages 6-12 at Palisades High School.

[related article: One-on-One with UCLA Coach Ben Howland]

By the end of the week it was hard to tell who was having more fun--UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland or the 124 kids invited to his first youth basketball camp at Palisades High.

"It was great," Howland said. "The kids had a lot of fun and I think they learned a lot. That's the most important thing."

Fresh off of leading the Bruins to the national championship game, Howland and his staff instructed boys and girls ages 6-12 on the fundamentals of basketball, using a number of fun drills, demonstrations and scrimmages to teach basic skills like shooting, passing and dribbling. Howland even invited several of his players to demonstrate intricacies of the sport like screening and spacing, ball denial and defensive stance.

"I liked the dribbling drills the most," said six-year-old Charley Wadler, a student at Village School, who played on the Auburn Tigers in the SEC (ages 6-7) division. "I liked the actual games best but everything was fun," said Tennessee Volunteers point guard Scotty Polson, who turns 8 on Saturday. "I've learned to use a follow through on my shot."

Kentucky beat Tennessee by a basket in the finals of the SEC division, with Matthew Nyman of Tennessee earning the most valuable player award. Nyman also won the three-on-three competition with Luke Bennett and Santiago Cortina of Tennessee, Asher Remer of Auburn won the one-on-one competition and the Hot Shot contest, Charlie Thompson of Alabama was named SEC defensive player and Alyssa Rivera of Tennessee won the Best Attitude award.

Among the volunteers who helped Howland and his staff at last week's camp were PaliHi boys head coach James Paleno, PaliHi girls assistant coach Torino Johnson and former PaliHi players Steve McMaryion (Class of 2000) and Isaiah Sago (Class of 1999). Paleno shouldered the burden of coaching UCLA in the Pac-10 division (ages 8-9) while Scott coached the Arizona Wildcats. Johnson piloted the Pacers, Sago mentored the Suns and McMaryion guided the Spurs in the NBA division (ages 10-12).

"I guess I can keep my job," Paleno joked after UCLA came from behind to beat Arizona, 24-22, in Friday afternoon's championship game. "It would've been hard to tell Coach Howland that the Bruins lost. Fortunately, the kids came through for me."

Arizona's Spencer Freedman, Jesus Zambrano and Kerry Calender won the Pac-10 three-on-three tournament. Freedman also won the one-one-one competition and Calender earned the Best Attitude award. UCLA's PJ Hurst won the Hot Shot competition, teammate Jasper Shorr was named Pac-10 most valuable player and Jordan Wong of Cal was chosen best defensive player.

Nine-year-old Charlie Carr, who attends Palisades Elementary, was traded from UCLA to USC on Monday's opening day of camp in order to even out the teams. "I'm the first line of defense--I don't like to shoot," said Carr, whose Trojans lost to UCLA in the semifinals. "I learned how to follow through and how to sweep to get out of the way."

One of the most exciting moments of the camp came on Thursday morning when Bruins' sophomore guard Darren Collison put on a shooting clinic in the PaliHi gym while Howland implored campers to make a lot of noise and "call out the numbers" after each made basket. "A good shooter should be able to make seven out of 10," Howland said. "And it shouldn't matter how loud it is or how many people are watching because you go through the same routine every time."

Collison captivated his young audience with an impressive shooting display, making nine 17-foot jumpers in a row before rimming out his last attempt, after which he received thunderous applause.

"I enjoy doing things like this," said Collison, who was named CIF Player of the Year his senior year at Etiwanda High. "It's all about the kids and everyone's having a good time. I was once in their shoes so I know how important it is to set a good example for them because they are the future of our game."

The Suns beat the Lakers in the finals of the NBA division, with Sam Wasserman of the Suns capturing MVP honors. Kevin Eyler of the Pacers, Zach Tinker of the Spurs and Joe Rosenbaum of the Bulls won the three-on-three competition, Eyler was the one-on-one champ, JoJo Fallas of the Spurs won the Hot Shot contest, Yosef "Scrappy" Washington of the Suns was the best defensive player and the Best Attitude awards went to Cora Chan of the Lakers, Ashley Wu of the Bulls and Jared Haltrecht of the Pacers.

So did Howland see anyone he might like to play for him in the not-too-distant future? "There is definitely a lot of potential out here today," Howland said Friday, a few hours before he was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on a recruiting trip. "We definitely plan on coming back here next year."

(Photo credit: Rich Schmitt)

[reprinted with permission]


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Former Bruin Ariza Re-Signs With Magic

By Bruin Basketball Report

Former UCLA Bruin Trevor Ariza has re-signed with the Orlando Magic. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Ariza, a restricted free agent, played in 57 games with both the Magic and New York last season, averaging 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game.

He was traded to Orlando by the Knicks in February 2006, along with the expiring contract of Anfernee Hardaway, in exchange for Steve Francis.

“We are very pleased to bring Trevor back, as he is a key part of our young core,” General Manager Otis Smith said. “His athleticism and explosiveness will be a great asset to our team on both ends of the floor.”

“Trevor is a young player with a bright future and we are excited to have re-signed him,” added Head Coach Brian Hill. “He has the ability to be a shutdown-type defender and will add to the versatility of our team.”

Ariza was originally selected by New York in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2002 NBA draft.


(photo credit: AP)

What's Up Next For The Bruins

By Bruin Basketball Report

With the long-awaited verbal commitment from Lake Oswego's Kevin Love finally secured, what further recruiting action can we expect from UCLA in this offseason?

Will Kyle Singler follow his friend Love to Westwood and commit to UCLA?

Barring an unexpected player transfer this season, UCLA has allocated all their available scholarships (13 total) to current and incoming players.

At this point, the only way UCLA could offer another player in the 2007 recruiting class is if they went over the scholarship limit with the knowledge a current Bruin player was leaving early for the NBA next year.

It's been suggested junior Arron Afflalo, or even sophomore Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, might declare early for the NBA next season, but as we've learned from Afflalo's own journey this last summer, there is no certainty in the NBA evaluation process.

With this in mind, it would not be a complete surprise if both Afflalo and Mbah a Moute were playing alongside Love and challenging for the NCAA championship in 2007-08.

Consequently, it would seem improbable an elite player such as Singler would put himself in an ambiguous scholarship situation when he is being heavily recruited by other elite programs such as Duke, Kansas, and Washington who have scholarships to offer.

As big a coup as it would be for the UCLA program to get Singler, UCLA already appears set at the forward wing position.

With returning players Josh Shipp and Michael Roll, incoming freshman James Keefe vying for playing time at the forward wing, as well as verbal commitments from Nikola Dragovic (2006) and Chace Stanback (2007), the Bruins have excellent options at the position for the next few years.

More likely UCLA Bruin head coach Ben Howland and his staff are focusing on the talent laiden 2008 recruiting class.

With at least two scholarships available in 2008, and perhaps more if other Bruin players opt early for the NBA (i.e. Kevin Love), the Bruins will have an opportunity to add numerous elite players.

From the 2008 class, the Bruins are heavily recruiting point-guard candidates Jerime Anderson, Larry Drew Jr., and Malcolm Lee - all three players recently attended the UCLA advanced skills camp at Pauley.

Additionally, the Bruins are very interested in big men from this class including power forwards Luke Babbit from Galena and Drew Gordon from Mitty.

However, the biggest catch in the 2008 class may be Jrue Holiday, a 6'3 combo guard from Campbell Hall. The Bruins reportedly have already offered Holiday.

Current scholarship breakdown:

2007 Class: 2
Kevin Love and Chace Stanback

Freshmen: 3
James Keefe, Russell Westbrook, and Nikola Dragovic

Sophomores: 6
Josh Shipp (redshirt), Darren Collison, Michael Roll, Ryan Wright, Alfred Aboya, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Juniors: 2
Lorenzo Mata and Arron Afflalo

Seniors: None

Other Bruin Notes: The UCLA athletic department recently announced both walk-ons Nican Robinson and Kelvin Kim will not return to the team next season. Reportedly, Robinson wants to attend school closer to home and will transfer to a northern California school, while Kim is interested in attending another southern California school where he can play more minutes.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's A Love Story For Bruins

By Brian Dohn
L.A. Daily News

Prospect, seen by many as No. 2 in nation, commits to UCLA

UCLA coach Ben Howland finally landed the type of impact big man that has eluded him since his arrival in Westwood.

During a Tuesday press conference in Las Vegas, 6-foot-9 Kevin Love - the top low-post player in the Class of 2007 and widely regarded as the second-best high school senior-to-be in the nation - gave a non-binding oral commitment to UCLA.

The Lake Oswego (Ore.) High product, who is the son of former Laker Stan Love and nephew of Mike Love, a founding member of the Beach Boys, chose the Bruins over North Carolina.

"There were a lot of changes for a while in my mind, and then UCLA just skyrocketed in my mind," Love said. "I just had a right feeling. One day (earlier this month), I just woke up and it felt right. I then woke up day after day, and it still felt right. I like coach Howland's style of slow down the ball, get the big men the ball."

Love's decision is not surprising. UCLA was long reported as the favorite to land him. His commitment will not become official until he signs a binding letter of intent in November, but his announcement essentially ends a courting process that began when he was in eighth grade.

It also marks the first time since becoming UCLA's coach that Howland, who is 61-35 in three years in Westwood, was able to land a prized, ready- to-play big man. Love's first game for UCLA will not be until November 2007, but he brings a polished interior game built on scoring and rebounding.

"It's the best get for UCLA since Baron Davis (in 1997)," said Greg Hicks, a recruiting analyst for "Baron was the best point guard in the country. Kevin is the best center in the country. Kevin Love could have played for UCLA when he was a freshman in high school. He was that advanced."

Love should add a consistent scoring presence in the interior.

"We have so many guards (at UCLA), and I'm hoping Arron Afflalo stays around & for his senior season, and I can kick the ball out to him for open 3s," Love said. "I don't think with Luc (Richard Mbah a Moute) and me, that anyone is going to outrebound us."

Love averaged 29 points and 17 rebounds per game in leading Lake Oswego to the state title. He also scored more points (813) than any junior in Oregon history, but there are questions about how much growth remains for his game. And, ultimately, the answers could determine how long Love remains at UCLA.

In recruiting circles, there is talk Love could be at UCLA for only one season before jumping to the NBA.

"I think there is a question of how high his ceiling is," Hicks said. "He's not a great athlete. But he has an exceptional feel for the game, great skills. The question mark for the NBA is athleticism."

(reprinted with permission)


(photo credit: Brian Ely/The Oregonian)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kevin Love: It's UCLA

By Joe Freeman
The Oregonian

Kevin Love is headed to Hollywood.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center from Lake Oswego, who has generated as much recruiting interest as any prep basketball player in Oregon history, announced Tuesday at a news conference at Foothill High School that he will attend UCLA.

In selecting the Bruins, Love spurned the University of North Carolina and all but ended a feverish recruiting process that has spanned years.

“UCLA just feels right,” Love said. “It’s hard to explain, but I just know, 100 percent, UCLA is the place I want to be. When it came down to it, the things that really matter to me — having my family close, having a great tradition and stuff like that — are all there. I had to pick UCLA.”

Love’s decision will not become official until November, during the NCAA early-signing period, but he said he has no intention of changing his mind. When he signs, the Bruins will land a first-team Parade magazine all-American, a two-time reigning Oregon Class 4A player of the year and a consensus top-five player among the Class of 2007.

Many recruiting experts believe Love — who averaged 29.0 points and nearly 17 rebounds for Lake Oswego as a junior last season, when he led the Lakers to their first state title — is the No. 1 prospect in his class.

Love was in Nevada Tuesday participating in the Reebok Big Time, an Amateur Athletic Union tournament featuring more than 300 teams. His team, the Southern California All-Stars, played a game earlier today and UCLA coach Ben Howland watched from the fifth row.

Coaches cannot discuss recruits before they sign letter of intents, so Howland could not comment on Love’s decision. But for some time, Love has been Howland’s No. 1 target for 2007. Howland started his recruitment of Love when Love was in the eighth grade and took an unofficial visit to the Los Angeles.

Love, who is widely praised for his rebounding, passing ability and strong post play, will attend a school that has a strong history of big men — a fact that was not lost on Love.

“UCLA has featured the two best big men in college basketball history and that tradition is a really big deal to me,” Love said. “If I can fit into that system and be a part of that tradition and be a part of the past legacy, then that’s going to be huge.

“If people are going to mention me in the same breath as Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton, that’s awesome and it’s a blessing. But if I can do half of what those guys did, then I’ll be set. I know the expectations are going to be high, but I’m looking to go in there and play as well as I can and as hard as I can and have some fun.”

Source: The Oregonian
Photo credit: Bruce Ely


Kevin Love Commits To UCLA


(photo credit: SI)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Marko Spica Not To Attend UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA officially announced Marko Spica, a 6-9, 225-pound post player from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, will not be enrolling at the university.

Spica's National Letter-of-Intent, executed during the early signing period last November, will be voided by UCLA because he did not meet University admission requirements.

The Bruins are expected to announce Nikola Dragovic, another player from Serbia-Montenegro, will join the team next season.


Kevin Love To Announce Decision Tuesday

By Joe Freeman
The Oregonian

Announcement Update
Date & Time: July 25 (Tue) at 1:30PM PT
Location: Foothill High School in Las Vegas

Kevin Love will announce Tuesday whether he's goin' Hollywood or traveling Tobacco Road.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Lake Oswego, perhaps the No. 1 basketball prospect in the Class of 2007, said late Sunday that he plans to hold a news conference in Las Vegas between games of the Reebok Big Time, an Amateur Athletic Union tournament in which he's competing.

At the news conference, Love, the first-team Parade magazine All-American and reigning two-time Oregon Class 4A player of the year, will say whether he will attend UCLA or North Carolina.

It's a surprising development in Love's recruitment because he has said throughout the process that he would not make a decision until the fall, when prospects can take official visits. But Love said he had a change of heart last week.

"Something just clicked for me last week, and I decided it was time," Love said after leading the Southern California All-Stars to two victories Sunday. "When August comes around, I want to be stress-free, relaxed and ready to enjoy a couple of months off before basketball season."


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (7/24)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Nikola Dragovic from Serbia-Montenergo has qualified academically and will join the UCLA basketball team this upcoming season. Dragovic joins an already solid 2006 recruiting class of James Keefe and Russell Westbrook in Westwood. An official announcement from the university is forthcoming. Bruin Basketball Report 7/23


Kansas has already received an oral commitment from Cole Aldrich, a 6-foot-11 senior from Bloomington, Minn. Others on the wish list for two or three available slots expected to be open because of players turning pro include Derrick Rose (6-4, Chicago), Kyle Singler (6-8, Medford, Ore.), James Anderson (6-5, Junction City, Ark.), Jerryd Bayless (6-3, Phoenix), Anthony Randolph (6-10, Dallas) and Tyrel Reed (6-3, Burlington) among others. LJWorld 7/18

Mitty-San Jose incoming junior Drew Gordon, recently selected's state sophomore athlete of the year, was picked as the top junior camper of the week at the ABCD Reebok camp in New Jersey. SFGate 7/18

Luke Babbitt carries a grade point average in excess of 3.9 and has stuck to his guns about finding the right fit for his academic endeavors in college. In fact, the word NBA never came of out of his mouth."My main goal is still to win state," said Babbitt, whose Grizzlies went 12-0 in the High Desert League, 22-7 overall, and lost in the regionals to eventual state champion Reno. "Even with all the recruiting, it's my main goal. It's really important to me how Galena is doing. When I'm on the road (at tournaments), I call to see how they're doing." Nevada Appeal 7/18

Michigan received a re-commitment this week from guard prospect Alex Legion, a smooth point/wing hybrid who stands 6-4 and stood out frequently with his play at the Reebok ABCD Camp earlier this month. Legion had chosen the Wolverines last November, reconsidered in the spring, but now says he's certain he wants to play for Michigan. SportingNews 7/18

Justin Holiday, a 6-foot-6 senior small forward from Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, Calif., is another player that really showed well in the first two weeks. Holiday is the older brother of elite junior guard Jrue Holiday. While Jrue has received early attention from the likes of UCLA, Arizona and Washington, Justin's recruitment has been more at the mid major level. But Justin is an outstanding prospect in his own right and we expect multiple high majors to ultimately recruit the talented wing. Fox Sports 7/20

Capital Christian High School's Matt Simpkins is an athletic, gifted 6-foot-9 basketball player. His talent is obvious. The kid has game. Unfortunately, that same vision also reveals a mind-set that seems totally immersed in himself. No doubt, Simpkins is young, and increased maturity hopefully will come with age and experience. However, Simpkins needs to make strides as a team player to maximize his ability. SacBee 7/20

Kyle Singler, the highly recruited basketball player at South Medford, has decided not to play football this fall as a senior. Singler, who also has been one of the state’s top quarterbacks, plans to be busy in September, though, taking recruiting visits to the schools still on his list for basketball –Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Arizona and Washington. Portland Tribune 7/20

Against Sylmar, they were missing Justin Holiday, out with a dislocated finger, and Deuce Johnson, who's been bothered by a twisted ankle. Justin's brother, Jrue Holiday, picked up the slack, scoring 32 points and adding 14 rebounds and Dallas Rutherford finished with 19 in the statement making performance against the Spartans. L.A. Daily News 7/21

But in the high-stakes world of elite high school basketball, free time is at a premium, rigorous travel is routine and family time can be almost nonexistent. So when the chance to hang out with Dad arrives -- even if it comes in another time zone, involves a life-sized game of Pop-A-Shot and occurs at Dave and Buster's, a video arcade/teenage entertainment mecca -- Kyle Singler seizes the opportunity. Oregonian 7/23

Adidas - Super 64:

Jrue Holiday did whatever he wanted, hitting four three-pointers in the game all the while powering his way into the lane for scores right at the rim. If Holiday found a spot to score, he scored. If he found a way to get into the lane on the defensive end to grab a rebound, he did just that. Defensively, he has reacts quickly and plays tight on his man. Physically, Holiday has a body that will be chiseled at the next level. Cardinal Sports 7/23

Horne's teammate Matt Simpkins is trying to figure out a couple of things. 1. What position he will be the most successful at in college? 2. What prospect class he will be in – 2007 or 2008? There is no question about his talent though. Simpkins is certainly a good looking prospect. The NorCal native showed flashes of why he is such a hot commodity with high-major programs. Cardinal Sports 7/23

At face value, Larry Drew may not look like a prospect that has garnered the attention the elite high-majors from coast-to-coast. He's 5-foot-11, maybe not the fastest or most athletic guy around either. Here is what he does do: Drew controls the game with a mature level of thinking for a player in the class of 2008. He never seems to get rattled and maintains a sense of confidence throughout the game like a guy that has seen it all before. Cardinal Sports 7/23

I then watch the bulk of the Los Angeles-based Double Pump Elite’s 30-something point victory over the New York Ravens and, although I don’t think along those lines at the time, later Saturday night I began to wonder if the DP Elite’s 6-3 Jrue Holiday might be the best all-around player in the national class of 2008. 7/23

Junior center David Whitey has a lot of promise at close to seven feet, but needs to get stronger and raise his aggressiveness and energy level. If he gets more aggressive, he could turn into a nice center prospect.Las Vegas based Billy White is a rawer version of Jamelle Horne. He thrives in the open floor and attacks the basket with high flying dunks. 7/23

Then Kevin Love took over for the Southern Cal All-Stars attacking the glass, making his signature pinpoint outlet passes and triggered a 19-4 run that put So Cal up 30-13 before Mean Streets caught their breath and managed to right the ship to in at the half down by a formidable 42-27 margin. Love lead So Cal with 12 points and 6 boards CSTV 7/23

The second half started in similar fashion until the 12-minute mark when So Cal, behind Kevin Love's outlet pass and his ability to control the glass, went on an 9-2 run to widen their lead to 61-53 over the Michigan squad. From that point on Michigan battled, but couldn't grab the lead, although they did cut it to two on a number of occasions. CSTV 7/23