Thursday, April 17, 2008

Love and Westbrook To Enter NBA Draft Without An Agent

By  Bruin Basketball Report

Freshman Kevin Love and sophomore Russell Westbrook announced today at separate press conferences that they planned to place their names in the NBA draft this summer but would not sign with agents.  In addition, they both will continue to attend classes this year so as not to harm UCLA athletic's academic standing.

By not immediately signing with an agent, either player can pull his name out of the draft up to ten days prior and still retain his collegiate eligibility. This year's draft will take place June 26.

However more than likely, both players will follow their path to the NBA draft this summer.

Love went home to Lake Oswego, Oregon over the weekend to contemplate his decision to leave early.  He consulted with his family, father Stan Love, UCLA Coach Ben Howland, and legendary Coach Wooden on his decision to ultimately enter the draft.

"I'm in the right spot to take my game to the next level," Love said. "This past year has been truly special.

Love indicated he wanted to give back to the school as well as eventually return and earn his undergraduate degree from UCLA.

The freshman center is expected to be a mid to late lottery pick.  Coach Howland mentioned last week Love might go as high as No.4 in the draft.

Love helped lead UCLA to a third consecutive Final Four this season. He averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds in 39 games and was named the Pac-10 Player of the year and a First Team All-American in his freshman season.

“Kevin is going to have a long and successful career in the NBA when he chooses that path and I’m very happy for him and wish him nothing but the best,” UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. “He completed the greatest freshman year in the history of UCLA basketball. The entire UCLA family will be rooting for him for the rest of his career.”

Westbrook indicated he would remove his name from the draft only if it appeared he might fall to the 20th pick or below.  But with most mock drafts indicating Westbrook to be lottery selection, its unlikely he will return to Westwood next season.

The sophomore guard had a break-out season, impressing scouts with his athleticism.  Westbrook averaged 12.7 points and 4.3 assists in 33.8 minutes of action this season, including highlight reel dunks.  In the Final Four game against Memphis, Westbrook led the Bruins in scoring with 22 points.  In addition to his offense, Westbrook is a stellar defender who was given the task of locking down the opponent's best offensive perimeter player.

Although he certainly could have benefited from another year of seasoning at the collegiate level, in particular his midrange game, the prospect of receiving big money at the highest level of the game was too tempting.

In somewhat of a surprising development, it had been announced earlier junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute would announce his intentions for next season along with Westbrook at the press conference, however, the plans changed and Mbah a Moute may still hold a press conference either on Friday or Monday. 

Mbah a Moute is projected by various mock drafts to be a second round draft, although he may be counting on the NBA tryout camps to showcase his skills to scouts in hopes of moving up the draft list.

Junior guard Darren Collison is still contemplating whether to enter the NBA draft this summer.  After a disappointing NCAA tournament, Collison remains undecided.

(photo credit: AP)



At Apr 17, 2008, 9:36:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Howland=Smart...enter without an agent...dig it...

At Apr 17, 2008, 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think both players deserve an awful lot of credit for sticking with Howland's suggestions regarding agents. If both players are high lottery picks, they should go. Remember, Aaron was able to return when he tested out the draft with Farmar.

At Apr 17, 2008, 10:31:00 AM, Anonymous dee said...

it will be interesting to see westbrook leave but collison stay... which might not be a bad thing after all... since he will definitely be a top 3 pg in the country

At Apr 17, 2008, 11:01:00 AM, Anonymous Rome 06' said...

Respeq to their decision. Lookin' forward to Drew Gordon on the interior next year.

At Apr 17, 2008, 11:37:00 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

I understand why they are both leaving, although it may be hard for the fan to understand unless you are in the players' shoes. I would have liked to see Westbrook return, it would have been one of the nations most explosive offenses with him, Holliday, shipp, etc.
On another note, if luc goes and stays with the draft, are we looking at Drew Gordon and James Keefe down low? That would be awesome I think. I do not know about Gordon's skills yet in the college game, but from what I saw of Keefe in the tourney, I am very excited to see what he can bring to the table.

At Apr 17, 2008, 5:12:00 PM, Anonymous Rich1996UCLA said...

Matt, interesting about JK. I'm sure we havn't seen all aspects of his game yet. Be very interesting to see how he develops his inside game.
If he does w/ relative success, along w/ his decent outside shooting, he just might be an unanticipated force.

At Apr 17, 2008, 6:08:00 PM, Anonymous DB said...

Nah I totally understand the players position. Get the money now while you can attitude. To say that they are doing anything other than that is a lie. They arent great players and will make minimal impact in the NBA next few years. The proof is in the fact that they do not have an agent.
That is because they arent sure of their status to the NBA. Only unsure players declare for NBA without Agent. The real impact players just goes straight for it with an agent.
I love UCLA and thank KLove for coming for a year but the truth is this. Even though he won player of the year in highschool, he is like most highschool star athletes. That is they were great in highschool, good in college, and average to below in NBA. The NBA are full of overhype players from highschool. Look at Eddy Curry, Kwame Brown, Sebastian Telfaire and to some extent Jermain Oneil to name a few. All those were pretty high picked players.
Very few highschool superstars live up to the hype and I really doubt KLove will as well. College usually recruit out of necessity and proven players while NBA are usually going for the potential future stars and not totally based on how well they have done already in college.
Players like Deandre Jordan and Hasheem Thabeet have much more upside than KLove cause when it comes down to it, athleticism and size usually superside good basic fundamentals. The only thing I really see KLove brining to NBA is his great outlet passing which is easily defended at the next level. His rebounding is not that great and if anything shows, its that a player like Joey Dorsey who is a very average player with equal size can out hustle and rebound Love.
Dont get me wrong, I cheer for all Bruin players, but this is one that is clearly not ready. Tyler is much more ready than Love at the next level.
Westbrook has a better chance but is not ready as well. The game is super fast at the next level and extremely talented. Players like Westbrook are everywhere in the league basically and have better shooting and handles than he does.
If you want a quick easy cash, go for NBA draft and take your money fellas, but dont expect to last.

At Apr 17, 2008, 7:21:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

The NCAA needs to change the rule...I'm a die hard BruinFan...born n raised in Brentwood...95=I had season tix...moved back in 06, got season tix and feel like I got pimped out my Love....make these Frosh stay 2 years....
Collison, u r small and weak...go pro....u r more than a nuisance than a benefit....Westbrook....your athleticism (as a late signee to UCLA) is the only reason u might consider jumping ship...tell DJ Augustine to go pro...then tell DC to leave too....
Westbrook/Holliday backcourt sounds ridiculous....Collison and Mbah are two players who should have left a long time ago....w/ Love....he'll bea top 15....maybe there will b more Beach Boy reunions....I know he likes Cali girls
Now, I'm pissed....get rid of Love and sign J'mison Morgan NOW.....dont ever pimp my school like that again.....
bleep....nachos, beer?

At Apr 18, 2008, 12:11:00 AM, Anonymous Matt Michel said...

Now now, Collison has done just fine for us the last two years. People seem to forget that he hit the game winner for us against txam, as well as hit the game winning free throws agains stanford. I agree, collison was probably better when afflalo was here, he couldnt handle being a leader this year, but next year, if he returns, im sure the intangibles is something he will work hard on.

At Apr 18, 2008, 2:41:00 AM, Anonymous David G. said...

With as much scrutiny that Love has been under this year, it's best for him to go now while he's still able to bask in all the glory that comes with "_____ for a freshman". The longer he stays, the more ordinary he becomes. Something that has been commended all season long was his maturity and how he plays like a seasoned veteran. Well, when you become a seasoned veteran and you're still doing what you've always done, then you've plateaued. Better for him to hit that plateau in the NBA under a million-dollar contract, than while still in college ie. Tyler Hansbrough. Kevin Love has been labeled "a throw-back big man", but the reason he's a "throw-back" is because the professional game has evolved in such a manner that fundamental skills, as flawless as they are, are not enough to excel in the hyper-athletic NBA anymore. Skilled players like Love will always find employment in the NBA because big men who can pass, rebound, and shoot will always be in demand. He won't be playing in any all-star games, but he'll be a solid contributor to a team that can utilize what he brings to the table. Unfortunately, 10 points and 7 boards off the bench isn't what's expected of a lottery pick, and I can easily envision Love taking a couple years to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the NBA.
Luc has no business even contemplating jumping to the NBA. I don't think I was the only one cringing every single time he set up for a jumpshot. He attacks the boards, plays great defense, and has a knack for the ball in the paint, but NBA teams don't waste guaranteed money on undersized, motor guys with no offensive repertoire.
I think Westbrook would be a better pick in 2009 if he polishes up his jumpshot, and he could use some work on staying under control when penetrating and finishing around the rim. Scouts love how he's able to get to the rim, but that will be harder in the NBA when he won't have a clear-cut athletic advantage. Westbrook scored 22 points against Memphis, but he would've had more if he didn't have several lay-ups swatted away by the long-armed, athletic Tiger defenders (NBA help-defense is exponentially better). While Westbrook has a knack for driving the lane, he doesn't appear to have the body control to have success doing the same in the NBA.

At Apr 18, 2008, 2:56:00 AM, Anonymous David G. said...

I forgot about Collison: great college point guard, but not long for the NBA. NBA guards will eat him up on both ends of the floor. He was burned by a small quick guard (Tyrone Brazelton) who isn't an NBA prospect and abused by a big, physical NBA protoype point guard (Derrick Rose) in his last 3 games. He only weighs 165 pounds, doesn't easily get to the rim or create his own shot, and his shot release isn't quick enough to compensate for his physical disadvantages. He has a lot of work to do before he can be a viable NBA point guard.

At Apr 18, 2008, 3:11:00 AM, Anonymous 1&done said...

I agree, Luc is "out of his skull" if he thinks he'll make an NBA roster this year. However, the NBA refs are waaaay more lenient with traveling calls, which is Luc's specialty. Keep it real Luc, comeback and improve your game.

At Apr 18, 2008, 6:13:00 AM, Anonymous kdl1984 said...

Luc needs a lot of work on his outside shooting and footwork (see "traveling" in the UCLA media guide and there's his picture!). Shipp has got to get his head on straight. The guy pretty much went into the tank at the end of the season. Can you say "meltdown"? If he thinks that he will be drafted high, with his slow speed and mediocre defense, he's gonna get a wake up call. Westbrook isn't ready either. So what, he had an amazing dunk against Cal. In the NBA, they're gonna posterize him left and right. It's a different game, sonny boy!
Collison, do yourself a favor and return. Not because I don't think you'll make it in the NBA, but because you have a chance to really do something that few people have, and that's win an NCAA championship. KLove won't be getting one! Will you?
If we want to get back to the final four next year, we're gonna have to get Morgan. We won't be able to with Gordon or Keefe in the middle. Neither one of them is solid enough to play the inside on a regular basis. Aboya, if he decides to stay, would be a better fit, eventhough his height is a concern. But, look at Love. He can do it with sheer determination alone! And when Aboya fouls you, you feel it for weeks!
Enuf said! Great season guys, but make the right decisions. Not the ones the money grubbing agents want you to make!

At Apr 18, 2008, 6:54:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

Well guys this is just something we must get used to. If we were all offered another job that pays 10 ten (for example purposes) times what we make now and at similiar recognition, would any of YOU not take it?
Never can blame an athlete when they are tempted early by the NBA which is where they ALL ultimately would want to go anyway!
Once a player puts on that Baby Blue & Gold and plays his heart out, I'm a fan of his wherever his basketball career may lead him!
A coaches greatest challenge now at the college level is to keep the rotating door of talent coming in. I think Coach Howland has done a fabulous job so far, don't YOU?

At Apr 18, 2008, 7:03:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin 2005 said...

Hey kdl1984, a Louisiana Paper is reporting that Morgan has reaffirmed.
"Three days after he was announced as LSU's 20th coach, Johnson determined he had already spent "16 hours in the air," not like Superman, but going back and forth from the West Coast and hitting many spots in between.
He wanted to touch base with and reassure Georgia recruits Dennis Harris and Delwan Graham, Dallas recruit J'Mison Morgan and Storm Warren of Monroe, all of whom could bolt their national letters of intent because LSU fired the coach with whom they signed.
All four have said they plan to honor their decisions."
Not good for us...

At Apr 18, 2008, 7:21:00 AM, Anonymous dee said...

dude why are people dissing collison, small agile guys can survive in the pros, TJ Ford did before his injury (and collison has a better jumpshot than him)... he has skill sets that will be beneficial as a 6th or 7th man on a very good team, his ability to change the pace of the game with his speed and tenacious defense.. like a bobby jackson kinda guy... mikey conley jr is only a 6-1 guy as well... as the pace in nba is faster than ever before and more and more teams play zone, it can compensate for collison weakness... and he don't have to lead a team in a pro team as well... just look at affalo in the pros, he's a chocker, but it doesn't matter, he just do what he's good at, defend and the intangibles and he is one of the key rotation guys

At Apr 18, 2008, 8:13:00 AM, Anonymous KDL1984 said...

Thanks for the update Bruin 2005. That's too bad about Morgan reaffirming his commitment. He would have been a nice addition to an already spectacular class. Can you imagine if we had a fab five like Michigan did a while back? Young and talented! That would have been awesome!
Just got to remind the kids not to call time outs when they don't have any!! ha ha! Anybody remember that, or am I alone in my old age?!! Ugh!

At Apr 19, 2008, 5:06:00 AM, Anonymous DB said...

One month into this past year's basketball season and I stated I felt non of the Bruins are ready for the NBA and I still feel that way.
I have listed before each of the possible potential Bruin NBA players on this past years team with all their weak areas of the game and they still have yet to improve on those areas.
If the NBA were like College and looking to recruit players on the next level, none of the Bruin players really stand out big time. However, NBA likes to draft based on potential so a few have a chance to get in.
Long term wise I dont see them making a real impact or last in the league. I guess the old saying goes, better to be a has been than a never was.

At Apr 20, 2008, 9:07:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin 2005 said...

Update on Morgan ignore my previous post.
"The four players — J’Mison Morgan of Dallas, Storm Warren of Richwood-Monroe, Delwan Graham of Dunwoody, Ga., and Dennis Harris from Mundy’s Mill High in Jonesboro, Ga. — have all spoken to Johnson since he was introduced as the Tigers new coach eight days ago.
Of the four, Graham and Harris confirmed this week they are LSU-bound, while Warren said he intends on being a Tiger as long as Johnson wants him.
Morgan, regarded as the centerpiece of the class, said he was encouraged by his conversation with Johnson and will reach a final decision in the next few weeks."
I need to read some good news this week...

At Apr 23, 2008, 7:29:00 AM, Anonymous Don Bollard 57 said...

College has to be the best 4 years of your life. Why give up that experience when you are getting a free ride. Look at the great UCLA players who stayed and then went pro. Most of them did very well and benifited from the years playing college ball. KLove is not ready for the NBA. He is typical of a kid who has had nothing but flattery since he first showed he could play and now belives his own press clipings. Stick around, Kevin, improve and enjoy being a college kid.


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