Monday, June 16, 2008

Mbah a Moute To Forego Final Year At UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute announced today he has decided to remain in the NBA draft this summer and will forego his senior season at UCLA. He plans to hire an agent immediately.

The junior forward waited until the last moment to announce his intention to pursue a professional basketball career.  Collegiates had until today to withdraw their names from the draft to maintain their NCAA eligibility. 

"Luc had a great career at UCLA, and I’m really proud of everything he helped our team accomplish during his tenure as a player at UCLA," Bruin Head Coach Ben Howland said during a press conference this afternoon. "He was the freshman of the year in the conference, won three Pac-10 titles and started in three Final Fours, but, more than anything, he is a winner."

Mbah a Moute averaged 9.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in his freshman season on his way to Pac-10 honors. However his statistical numbers decreased the last two years, as a sophomore he averaged 8.2 points and 7.4 rebounds and as a junior he recorded 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds with corresponding decreases in his field goal shooting percentage.

However, Mbah a Moute's value to the UCLA team did not show up in the box scores instead it was the intangibles he brought to the Final Four teams.  He was most effective on the defensive end while disrupting an opponent's offensive flow with his activity and length.  On the offensive end, he contributed with solid screens and hard work around the boards and loose balls. 

“I’m sure he’ll continue to provide that great attitude and work ethic at the next level in the NBA,” Howland said. “I will always be grateful and appreciative of Luc. He’s an outstanding player and an even better person."

Its unclear at this point whether Mbah a Moute received a draft guarantee from an NBA team. Reports indicate he is a borderline first-round to mid-second round choice. However, some teams have indicated they were enamored by his combined size, speed, and track record of winning at UCLA. He had workouts with multiple NBA teams including the Celtics, Trailblazers, and Bulls. 

Mbah a Moute's decision today comes with some risk.  Without a first-round guarantee, if he is not selected in the first-round then he does receive a guaranteed NBA contract.  However, Mbah a Moute has stated earlier he would enter the draft if he received just a second-round guarantee.

As a junior, Mbah a Moute received an honorable mention All-Pac-10 and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Defensive Team selection. His 775 rebounds rank him No. 15 on UCLA’s career list. He became the first Bruin since Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes, and Greg Lee to start in three straight Final Fours.

“After speaking to my family and going through the process, I feel like the time is right for me to take the next step in my basketball career and keep my name in the NBA draft,” Mbah a Moute said. “I had the greatest time of my life at UCLA. Starting in three-straight Final Fours and winning three straight Pac-10 titles is something I’ll never forget. I will be a Bruin forever.”

Its not for certain that fellow Cameroonian Alfred Aboya will return next season, although its thought that Aboya will indeed return . Aboya will be playing in the Get Better summer league this June.

With the departure of Mbah a Moute, it leaves UCLA with James Keefe, probably Aboya, and incoming freshmen J'mison Morgan and Drew Gordon in the post positions. Nikola Dragovic is expected to return next season as well and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him play the four at time. 

If Mbah a Moute had returned next season the Bruins were expected to be a favorite for a fourth consecutive Final Four.  Without the three-year starter and the departure of freshman Kevin Love, the Bruins will be relying heavily on prior role players and incoming freshmen to shore up the front line.

(photo credit: J Rosenfeld)



At Jun 16, 2008, 10:09:00 AM, Anonymous jake said...

Huge bummer but completely understood.
He will be difficult to replace.
Good luck Luc ...

At Jun 16, 2008, 10:31:00 AM, Anonymous Justin said...

I'm totally bummed by his decision. I wish him the best of luck, but really have to question his choice to remain in the draft.
I can understand Westbrook and Love leaving since they are all but guaranteed a lottery selection. But all reports I've read about Luc put him in the "2nd round to undrafted" group. I think if he worked hard on his offensive game at UCLA next year he could have worked his way into the first round and a guaranteed contract.
Best of luck Luc, you have been my favorite Bruin for the last 3 years. I will continue to wear my "Moute Kicks Boute" shirt with pride.

At Jun 16, 2008, 10:50:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

SO I guess we are not favored to go to the Final Four anymore?? Watch what Howland does with this team...
We will win the Pac 10 title by 3 games and get to the Final Four....
Thanks Luc for 3 great years....I'll be pullin for you. Take care of your family....

At Jun 16, 2008, 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous Bruin 2005 said...

I was really hoping he would stay, but the way things looked last year I was not really sure it was a good decision. In a majority of the games both Luc and Josh would just disappear. I hope Luc does well.

At Jun 16, 2008, 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous JonW said...

I think Keefe will step up big time. He would of had a great year last year if not for the shoulder injury. Plus Keefe will at least be a better offensive threat from midrange than Luc.
Loved Luc but he couldn't shoot at all...Keefe has a pretty good shot out to the three point line.
Still...hate to lose such a heady player like Luc.

At Jun 16, 2008, 12:30:00 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

I wish him the best of luck. But I think it best that he move on. Yes, he would provide great defense, but he would have also been throwing up bricks in crucial games to try to impress the scouts. His first year was his best when he tried to please his coach and teamates. The last couple of years, its been all about "Luc". He's young, so I get it. But his agenda is no longer that of the team's. From my standpoint, we are now exactly 2 deep at every position. Perfect.

At Jun 16, 2008, 2:46:00 PM, Anonymous Mike said...

He better take the 2nd round pick while he still has some stock. His game has been in steady decline since his freshman year. Plus everyone talks about what great 'D' he played but frankly I didn't think he was a tough enough defender and was hurt way to often....More importantly, did he finish his coursework? I think Aboya graduates this summer right? Will he be in an M.A. program next year if he plays?

At Jun 16, 2008, 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous LN23 said...

Best of luck to Luc. Keefe willl be big this season. Luc's defense wasn't always the best becasue he was playing out of position. He'll be more effective playing the small forward position. I'm sure he'll work hard and eventually get himself a nice payday, like Kapono did.

At Jun 16, 2008, 4:30:00 PM, Anonymous miltk said...

I don't think needed a guarantee as such. He only needed to assure HIMSELF that he would get drafted in the 2nd round, and that would mean getting some sort of "almost guarantee" FROM A FEW TEAMS in case some of them fell through.
I'm guessing he got bites from 3 or 4 teanm and that was enough for him.

At Jun 16, 2008, 6:50:00 PM, Anonymous Bee said...

Luc was a great 'glue' player. He never got the credit he deserved. Although this past year it drove me a little crazy to see him take a fair amount of ill-advised jumpers, on the whole, I am really glad he was a Bruin. Remember that crazy steal at the end of the Gonzaga game to send Adam Morrison packing??? That was great!
He was totally committed to the team defense concept, and got numerous key steals and rebound putbacks.
I hope Keefe will develop into a similar 'glue' player, he seems very active and has some length. He also has shown some decent offensive capabilities.
You will be missed, Luc...

At Jun 16, 2008, 6:52:00 PM, Anonymous Bee said...

PS. Luc, develop a consistent 3-point shot. You will have a decent NBA career as Bruce Bowen, part 2.
Good luck.

At Jun 17, 2008, 12:26:00 AM, Anonymous ASK said...

Luc brought a great work ethic to the team. He will be missed on the defensive end as well as his rebounding prowess. Best of luck at the next level!

At Jun 17, 2008, 5:43:00 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

Luc made it clear he didn't want to return, and I think it's best he left as it's not good to have those kinds of feelings in the locker room. We'll miss his defense and rebounds... but DEFINETLY not the 30 footers. See ya Later Luc!

At Jun 17, 2008, 7:17:00 AM, Anonymous dee said...

i'd rather him become a hybrid between rodman and bowen, rather than bowen II... he has the rebounding instinct just need to be in better shape so that he won't get pushed around

At Jun 17, 2008, 7:34:00 AM, Anonymous Knows Nothing said...

It was great watching Luc play and I wish him the best of luck with the NBA. While I want him to stay for his senior year, he would have been better off leaving as a freshman. Since then, he hasn't really improved.

At Jun 17, 2008, 9:46:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Do we have room for Stephenson now???

At Jun 17, 2008, 11:50:00 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

Wouldn't Stephenson have to sit out a year? And with two forwards coming in with the 2009 class, do we need him? He should have come to UCLA in the first place. He's a trojan if I ever saw one.

At Jun 17, 2008, 1:41:00 PM, Anonymous willis said...

Bruin Fan and are right on to be thinking of Stepheson. He is down to Cal and UCLA. It is possible the NCAA will allow him to play without sitting out a year due to "family health issues." But, assuming he is granted the right to play in 2008-2009, one must think he'd rather be at UCLA because it's closer to home. With Ryan Anderson leaving Cal that opens a tantalizing starting spot for him at Cal. Now with The Prince gone that opens up a starting spot for him at UCLA too. (Truth is Aboya is not a bona-fide starter, but a perfect player off the bench. That opens up the 4 and 5 spots for Keefe and Stepheson with Aboya, Morgan, and Gordon off the bench.) With the OJ Mayo drama hanging over SUC there's no way they can recruit now. SUC is dead in the water. Look for something soon about Stepheson and don't be surprised if another 5-star player falls into Howland's lap.
Bruins will be a final 4 contender again, but UNC is totally loaded and Texas ain't far behind.

At Jun 17, 2008, 1:53:00 PM, Anonymous DorianGraysBlues said...

The tendinitis was a tough, tough, break. It took away the explosiveness, leaping, and rebounding ability of a freshman who came out of nowhere. combine that with his work ethic that compelled him to do whatever it took to win, he had something special as a power forward in his first year, although he would have been a bit of a tweener as a pro forward prospect.
It takes months if not years to make the transition from a power forward to a small forward. I believe if ucla, last season and the upcoming one, had room for him to start as a small forward, with significant minutes, some of his bricks could and would have become gold. His dribbling and ability to drive had gotten better. He was making strides, but...
He will have a tough time trying to make that transition in the nba. If he gets to the right team, he can do it, but there arent many right teams out there. He's got a tough row to hoe.
I love players who do the little things, so I loved luc.
May God Bless and Good Luck.
and selfishly... thanks for the memories!

At Jun 17, 2008, 6:05:00 PM, Anonymous Hank Cartwright said...

Yeah... the memories of me yelling, "NO" everytime he put up a 30 footer.

At Jun 17, 2008, 6:30:00 PM, Anonymous Huh? said...

30 footers? You realize that is 11 feet behind the arc. I am thinking this site has some fans that don't have a clue about basketball. The only time he might have thrown up a 30 footer, it was when the half was ending or the shot clock was about to expire.
Get a clue.

At Jun 17, 2008, 10:01:00 PM, Anonymous Hank Cartwright said...

That was an exaggeration, but thanks for the clarification.

At Jun 18, 2008, 12:43:00 AM, Anonymous bruin66 said...

UNC and Texas? I must be on the wrong site. As Coach Wooden always says - focus on your team, not your opponent.
UCLA is more than a bunch of individuals

At Jun 18, 2008, 3:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aboya is gone...I saw him graduate on Sunday.

At Jun 18, 2008, 3:32:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

U nited
C ollaboration of
L arge
A thletic
Bodies needed.....

At Jun 18, 2008, 4:29:00 AM, Anonymous Mike S said...

Aboya is not gone. He going to grad school at UCLA. According to CBH, he will be on the team next year.

At Jun 18, 2008, 5:13:00 AM, Anonymous BruinEconGrad said...

So who then will be our starting 5 next season, assuming we don't get Stephenson?

At Jun 18, 2008, 1:48:00 PM, Anonymous ryan said...

Unfortunately I don't see Moute getting drafted, however it's not out of the realm of possibility that he ends up having a nice career in the league, just look at undrafted players like Bruce Bowen and Michael Curry, well, at least at the small forward position.

At Jun 19, 2008, 7:47:00 AM, Anonymous teebone said...

Luc would look REALLY good in a Lakers uni. The Lakers do have the 28th pick in the 2nd rebounder and good defender. Someone the Lakers needed in the Finals!!

At Jun 19, 2008, 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Dear "Huh?". Mr. Cartwright was being nice to you. If you aren't going to be civil, at least don't be dumb. This is a college basketball forum. We aren't debating the Palestinian situation here.

At Jun 20, 2008, 8:56:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

In case some of us are not keeping up on the Stephenson talk, there are two Stephensons the Bruins are vieing on.
2006 Class (UNC Transfer)
Alex Stephenson
**** star
6'9"/235lb - PF/C
HS: Harvard-Westlake
Studio City
2009 Class (Recruit)
Lance Stephenson
***** star
6'5"/205lb - SG/SF
HS: Abraham Lincoln
Brooklyn, NY
Would love to have the problem of saying Alex S. (senior) and Lance S. (freshman) to not get the two mixed up on the Bruins roster in a couple of seasons from now.

At Jun 20, 2008, 9:56:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Dear "Rob,"
Actually, I thought "Huh" was being "civil" to "Cartwright." Perhaps if Cartwright's only "memory" of Luc is yelling "no" when Luc shot, then Cartwright should be the one discussing peace in the middle east rather than posting on a UCLA basketball fanpost. Luc brought incredible vitality to the game and I, for one, will miss yelling "LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCC!!!!!!!" at Pauley.
The following, according to BH himself, sums it up:
" * Luc's the kind of player that I think will be appreciated more by a coach than by a scout. What I mean by that, the intangibles he brings to the table are truly special. You don't see them on a one-day workout. You see it every day, having him in your program: day-after-day, bringing his work ethic and his discipline, how he sacrifices, and all the little things.
* I expect him to play. When he gets in the right system ... he can play in a lot of different programs.
* The decision is made. We're moving forward. Luc's moving forward. We wish him the very best. Again, I can't even express how appreciative I am for everything he's done for our program ... he did all the little things that sometimes don't show up on a stat sheet.
* What always happens, it opens up opportunities for us. We expect that others in our program will seize the opportunity and take advantage.
* [Luc] was really set on trying to put his name in the draft last year, so this is not a surprise to me, that he has left his name in, by any means.
* The biggest thing that I'd like to stress is how appreciative and thankful I am that I got to coach Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. I'm going to miss the fans in Pauley Pavilion yelling out 'Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc!' "
So, if you and Cartwright care to remember Luc's occasional ill-advised shot rather than his energy, vitality and hustle, so be it. But seriously, go solve the middle east problem instead of venting here.
Again -

At Jun 20, 2008, 10:16:00 PM, Anonymous Huh? said...

Cartwright: "I always yelled NO on all of Luc's 30 foot shot's
Huh: I don't remember him taking any 30 foot shots.
Rob: You need to be civil like the ingenious Cartwright, Luc takes too many 30 footers and don't disagree with that..... You are dumb!
Everyone collectively rolls their eyes at this post.

At Jun 20, 2008, 10:37:00 PM, Anonymous Hank Cartwright said...

Rob, thanks for understanding.
Others, sorry for the misunderstanding. These posts are the first I've done here and will now be the last.
Go Bruins.

At Jun 21, 2008, 5:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing us a favor.

At Jun 21, 2008, 7:44:00 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

Don't leave man. Who else is going to yell "no" everytime someone shoots a 30-50 footer. Or a 60 foot layup.

At Jun 21, 2008, 8:49:00 AM, Anonymous kdl1984 said...

Now boys...don't get too upset with what people write here. After all, it's just a blog!
And now, back to what really matters here!
BBR- What are our chances at getting A. Stephenson instead of Cal? He would sure fill the hole left by Luc, but it concerns me how the others (Keefe, Morgan, Aboya, and Gordon) would feel. Especially Keefe and Aboya. How would they feel, after coming off the bench for a couple of years, if BH brought in another PF? Would it hurt the chemistry of the team and create animosity?
Also would like to know what our chances are of getting Gaddy and Bradley?
And the chances of our good friends (said with sarcasm) across town getting NCAA sanctions!!!

At Jun 21, 2008, 10:42:00 PM, Anonymous DB said...

While Bradly and Gaddy are very good players, I really dont think ucla will go for both IMO. The PG and SG spots are filled to the brink.
I think we need more SF and SG however as a fan, im glad with good recruits either way.

At Jun 22, 2008, 1:14:00 PM, Anonymous kdl1984 said...

DB- Funny thing though. Both were already offered scholarships! What if they both accept? IMO, I think Howland would accept them both in a heartbeat!
The only thing that concerns me about a bunch of 5-star players coming to UCLA is the amount of playing time for each and whether or not they would all be willing to share the ball. Too many stars isn't good either. You need to have those role players like Luc to do the dirty work. But then again, if anybody can get a bunch of hard working studs to perform as a team, it's BH!
Good times ahead for us, don't you think? I just hope the results meet the expectations!

At Jun 23, 2008, 1:15:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Josh said...

I really question this one. I think he's getting bad advice from someone and it couldn't hurt him to come back for one more year.I hope he was able to secure a guarantee, if not I don't think he can make an NBA roster. Hope I'm wrong, best of luck Luc.

At Jun 23, 2008, 12:38:00 PM, Anonymous Wayne Williams said...

Luc made a mistake. He will never be a pro. He has no idea how this game is played. He has the height and the wing span but not the instinct.Keefe and the youngsters will be fine. Aboya had no idea either. We will be ok without these two.
Love should have stayed too. Lets not forget the O'Bannon's and how great they where for us.

At Jun 24, 2008, 1:35:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Stepheson is still a big possibility for UCLA. Its still undecided whether he'll need to sit out a season. As a coach, you only worry about bringing in the best players available and then let them compete with each other. Natural selection takes care of itself (i.e. recruit picks another school less stacked, or players transfer, etc.).
Bradley is still a possibility with or without Gaddy, although Gaddy now lists UCLA as a potential school.
USC is in it deep.

At Jun 25, 2008, 1:43:00 PM, Anonymous DorianGraysBlues said...

great comment hank, whether they were truly 30 footers or not! I too, would wince at times.


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