Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fan Favorite Kelvin Kim Moves Game To UCSD

By Bruin Basketball Report

It’s a tradition.

Every season whenever a Bruin basketball team has a game well in hand in the final minutes at Pauley Pavilion, a steady chant begins to emerge from the crowd and builds to a crescendo -- until finally, the chosen one arises from the UCLA bench to enter the game.

The UCLA student section, a passionate group known as The Den, has the annual task of picking a single player from the Bruin bench to bestow their love and affection during the year.

Last season the chosen one was Kelvin Kim.

Kim, a walk-on freshman, played sparingly last season but would electrify Pauley crowds whenever UCLA Coach Ben Howland would finally bow to crowd pressure and insert him into the game.

But alas, The Den will have to choose a new favorite this season since Kelvin Kim transferred to the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) over the summer.

“I made the decision to transfer from UCLA at the end of last season.” Kim explained. “I just wanted to go to another school where I’d have a better opportunity to play ball.”

“Coach (Chris) Carlson called UCSD Head Coach Bill Carr on my behalf.” Kim continued. “I went down to the school and played pick-up with the team. He liked my game and asked if I’d like to play for him next season.”

At UCLA last season, Kim was mostly relegated to dribbling the clock out during the final moments of games when the final score had been decided much earlier.

“I didn’t come to UCLA last year expecting to get much playing time at all.” Kim said. “Yet as the basketball season progressed I found myself missing the feeling of playing in games.”

Kim was a heralded player coming out of El Toro High School where he developed the reputation as a clutch ballplayer.

During his senior season, Kim averaged 14.6 points and 5.2 assists a game and was named All Orange County First-Team. In addition, he was selected as the South Coast League MVP.

After his senior campaign, the 5’10 guard could have picked any number of schools to attend and challenge for significant minutes on the court, but instead Kim chose to walk-on at UCLA.

“After high school I was uncertain if I really wanted to continue playing basketball, ” Kim said, “and I thought it would be a great experience to walk-on and be a part of UCLA basketball instead.”

“UCLA practices were great. Coach Howland is a great coach. He treated all of us the same regardless of whether we were walk-ons or scholarship players.” Kim reflected. “It was inspiring to see how much Coach Howland loved the game and how hard he worked at his job everyday.”

“I will definitely miss the basketball tradition, my teammates, and the friends I made at UCLA.” Kim said. “Not many people can say they were part of something as special as UCLA basketball.”

As for Kim being chosen the fan favorite last season by the students?

“I met so many great people at UCLA and whenever I went onto the court I felt really appreciated and loved out there.” Kim said. “I almost feel like I’m letting some of those same people down by transferring, but I hope they can understand my reasons.”

With the UCSD Tritons, Kim will have a chance to play significant minutes this season. Since he is transferring to a Division II from a Division I program, he will not need to sit out a season.

“I love my new team." Kim said. "Everyone is real close and we all hang out a lot.”

“I don’t really have any regrets about sitting on the bench last season. I feel that I was a part of something real special” Kim said. “UCLA was an awesome experience and I will miss all the people there but I am happy and excited about where I am today.”

(photo credit: ASUCLA)


Monday, October 16, 2006

Ryan Wright Ready to Step Up Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

Ryan Wright arrived on the Westwood campus last year as the highest regarded basketball recruit from among a solid UCLA 2005 class.

It was hoped at the time Wright might provide some needed depth at the power forward and center positions. A season earlier, an undersized senior Dijon Thompson started at power forward and the Bruin's two 7-footers, Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins, had completed unremarkable junior campaigns.

However with the emergence of fellow freshmen Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya and improved play at center by Lorenzo Mata and Hollins, Wright had difficulty finding minutes in games, especially towards the end of the season.

Wright averaged 9.8 minutes in 31 games last season averaging 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per contest. Moreover, his playing time was limited to just 11 total minutes during the NCAA tournament.

Although Wright had a solid game against Nevada in the Wooden Classic recording 8 points and 8 rebounds, he never seemed able to get his game on track.

Now with one season under his belt and a long summer of hard work behind him, a leaner and more sculpted Ryan Wright feels he is ready to contribute more to the team this year.

“After the season ended, I felt strong but thought I needed to improve my conditioning.” Wright said. “I focused my training all summer on improving my conditioning by doing a lot of running and sprints.”

"I feel great right now.” Wright continued. “I’ve lost 10 pounds since last season while maintaining my strength.”

Wright, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, spent a few weeks this summer back at home to visit with family and continue his training.  While in Canada, he had the opportunity to train with the Canadian national (under-20) basketball team.

Upon his return back to Los Angeles, Wright played in the Say No Pro-City basketball league and worked out with teammates on campus for the rest of the summer.

"Last season was a great learning experience. I learned you have to always be on your game." Wright said. "At UCLA we’re playing against the top competition in the country every game - you can never take a possession off.”

With Lorenzo Mata out for four to five weeks from knee surgery, the Bruins will need big contributions from Wright - and the 6’8 sophomore is ready for the challenge.

“I want to help the team by being the best player I can possibly be this year.” Wright said. “It’s time for me to step up."


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (10/16)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Though NCAA rules prohibit Calipari from commenting on unsigned recruits, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Commercial Appeal that Derrick Rose, the No. 3-ranked high school senior in the country by Rivals scouting service, is scheduled to attend Memphis Madness. Memphis Commerical Appeal 10/11

As the coach of a team typically overshadowed by tradition-rich UCLA in its own city and by the dominant football program on its own campus, USC's Tim Floyd hopes to use Galen Center to help jumpstart recruiting and breathe new life into Trojan basketball. "Just picturing myself on that court in front of all those fans is very exciting," Malcolm Lee said. "I've never played in an arena that nice. To have that chance would be really special." That a prospect as coveted as Lee is so enamored with USC shows the allure of a state-of-the-art, on-campus arena. Press-Enterprise 10/11

Kyle Singler has eliminated UCLA from his list of college candidates, ending the possibility that he and Kevin Love will roam the Pacific-10 Conference on the same team. Singler, a South Medford senior, called UCLA coach Ben Howland last week with the news, informing the Bruins coach that he had trimmed his finalists to Duke, Arizona and Kansas. The Oregonian 10/11

Malcolm Lee: Although he can be a bit on the wild side, few guards in the class of 2008 can match the 6-3 Lee’s overall arsenal of skills. Long and skinny, he handles the ball extremely well and uses those dribbling skills in combination with a lightning quick first step to embarrass defenders looking to stay in front of him. On top of his creativity with the ball, Lee is a dangerous outside shooter who elevates quickly for high arching and quick rotating jumpers that more often than not find the bottom of the net. Talent wise, he’s got the potential to be a McDonald’s All-American but he has to get stronger, slow things down a little, and make better decisions. Among the schools joining Kansas on his early list are UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona State, Florida, Cal and others  10/13

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, UCLA's Ben Howland, Arizona's Lute Olson and North Carolina's Roy Williams are among the many basketball coaches who have visited Mater Dei in the past few weeks to take a look at sophomores David and Travis Wear, and Andy Brown. Jamal Trice, a junior, is also getting recruiting attention, Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight said. O.C. Register 10/13

Also on hand at Late Night in the Phog: Senior Tyrel Reed, 6-3, Burlington; juniors J’Mison Morgan, 6-10, Dallas; Travis Releford, 6-4, Overland Park; Jeff Withey, 7-0, San Diego; Tyler Zeller, 6-10, Washington, Ind.. as well as sophomores Tyler Griffey, 6-8, Ballwin, Mo.; Jordan Dumars, a forward from Detroit. Lawrence Journal World 10/14

Having pulled on the same jersey for the first time, nine new players and four returning players - were paraded onto the Gampel Pavilion court before about 9,000 fans for the Men's Basketball Madness portion of UConn's First Night celebration...Add these names to the list UConn is recruiting heavily: Bawa Maniru, a 6-10 center from Madison Academy in Alabama. Courant 10/14

Rival's 30 Best Cagers We Saw This Summer; The following list and writeups are of the most impressive performers we saw on the 2006 spring and summer AAU circuit at least twice. This is not a list consisting of the top players in the state regardless of class or the order in which we feel California's best players would fall on the Student Sports Hot 100 or various national recruiting listsincluding Renardo Sidney, Drew Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Matt Simpkins, and Jerime Anderson Gator Bait 10/15

Simeon standout Derrick Rose has trimmed UCLA from his list of college finalists, his brother Reggie confirmed Saturday, due to concerns that Los Angeles was too far from home. Rose's final visit is the one he took to Memphis this weekend for the school's Midnight Madness festivities. DePaul, Indiana and Kansas are the guard's other remaining finalists. Chicago Tribune 10/15