Westbrook, Love See Lottery Green, Mbah a Moute Goes In 2nd Round
By Bruin Basketball Report
Two Bruins became the first lottery picks of the Ben Howland era when the duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were selected No.4 and No.5, respectively, in the NBA draft on Thursday.
They become the first UCLA players to be drafted in the top five of the same draft since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lucius Allen were the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in 1969. In addition, the pair are the first college teammates to be picked back-to-back in the lottery.
Westbrook joins 2007 Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant and company in Seattle. Westbrook's climb up the draft ladder was fast and furious. After announcing his intention to enter the draft at the end of the season, he was expected to be a low first round pick, but after workouts his stock climbed significantly. The Sonics were enamored by his ability to handle the point and his off-the-chart athleticism.
"I worked so hard to put myself in the best position possible and I'm really excited and happy that it worked out," Westbrook said. "I just kept working on my game and I've been playing point guard all my life, so I think I'm ready."
Freshman Kevin Love was the fifth pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. He has slimmed down 15-20 pounds since the end of the season and surprised scouts with his skill performance at the NBA combines. Love helps to fill a hole along the frontline for the Grizzlies who traded power forward star Pau Gasol to the Lakers late in the season.
"I didn't know how I was going to react coming into the Draft," Love said. "It was a surreal moment and it actually hasn't set in yet that I'm an NBA player. It is going to be a fun team to play on and I'm hoping I can contribute right away."
"I'm so excited and elated for them," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "Both Russell and Kevin have worked so hard and I'm not surprised that they went as high as they did. They are both great kids and great players and both the Sonics and the Grizzlies are very fortunate to have them join their franchises."
Mbah a Moute became the third Bruin selected in the 2008 NBA Draft when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second-round and was the draft's 37th overall pick. It is the first time three Bruins have been drafted in the same season since 1998.
"I'm very happy and very excited," Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. "I'm going to a great organization and going to play for a very good head coach who understands me and really values the things I bring to the table, like defense and rebounding. I'm very excited for the opportunity to compete at the highest level."
(photo credit: AP)