Friday, April 18, 2008

Mbah a Moute Decides To Enter NBA Draft

By Bruin Basketball Report

In a teleconference with the media this afternoon, junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute announced he would make himself eligible for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent at this time. By not immediately signing with an agent, Mbah a Moute can still pull his name out of the draft up to ten days prior and still retain his collegiate eligibility. This year's draft takes place June 26.

"After speaking with my family and with Coach Howland, I feel that it is in my best interest to see what the NBA has to offer," Mbah a Moute said. "I'm not hiring an agent, so the opportunity still exists for me to return to UCLA."

Although he battled multiple injuries this season, Mbah a Moute averaged 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and was named an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection as well as an honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic team member.

"I have had a wonderful experience at UCLA," Mbah a Moute added. "I have had a chance to play in three Final Fours and that is very special to me and I'll never forget it."

In 2008, Mbah a Moute became the first Bruin since Keith Wilkes, Bill Walton and Greg Lee (1972-74) to start in three straight Final Four games. His 775 career rebounds currently rank him No. 15 on the UCLA career charts.

"Luc is a great rebounder and is an outstanding defender," Howland said. "He’s the most versatile defensive player I’ve ever coached. He has been an integral part of the success that our program has achieved over the last three seasons. I fully support him exploring his opportunities to play in the NBA."

Unlike Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, its unclear whether Mbah a Moute would be drafted in the first round which carries a two-year guarenteed contract.  Current mock drafts put Mbah a Moute as a low first round to high second round draft selection.  Although its quite possible he can improve his stock by performing well at upcoming camp tryouts. 

Mbah a Moute has the size, length, and motor to contribute at the next level, however, his skill level on the offensive end could use additional refinement at the collegeiate level.

Losing both Love and Mbah a Moute would create an enormous hole in UCLA's front court.  Only sophomore James Keefe and junior Alfred Aboya would be returning from this year's front court, although its been mentioned Aboya may also leave the program after this school year.  Aboya is scheduled to graduate this June and is considering graduate school.  UCLA does have 6'9 post Drew Gordon from Archbishop Mitty entering next season.

If the Bruins lose Love and Mbah a Moute, look for Coach Howland to aggressively puruse an unsigned 2008 high school senior, junior college transfer, or perhaps even an international post player.

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


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)


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kevin Love Press Conference Scheduled For Tomorrow

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA first-team All-America Freshman Kevin Love will hold a press conference tomorrow at 1:00 PM PT to announce his future basketball plans.

Father Stan Love and UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland will also be present.

Love helped lead the Bruins to a third consecutive Final Four this season. He averaged 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds in 39 games in his freshman campaign.

It is widely expected that Love will forego his remaining collegiate eligibility to enter the NBA draft this summer. Some scouts have projected Love going anywhere from the mid to late lottery in the draft.


Monday, April 14, 2008

UCLA Men's Basketball Announces 2008 Honors at Annual Banquet

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA freshman center, Kevin Love, the Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year, was given the Coach John Wooden Award as the Bruins' Most Valuable Player Monday night at UCLA's annual Hoopsters Awards/Dinner Banquet held at the Beverly Hilton.

A first team All-American, Love led the Bruins in scoring (17.5 ppg ranked seventh in the Pac-10), and in rebounding (10.6 rpg ranked second in the league). Love is the first freshman to earn the honor outright in UCLA history and just the second all-time, joining Jason Kapono, who shared the title with Jerome Moiso and Earl Watson in 2000.

During the evening's festivities, Love was also given the Seymour Armond Memorial Award (Most Valuable Freshman) and the Gerald A. Finerman Award (team rebounding leader).

Sophomore guard Russell Westbrook also was a three-time award winner, receiving the UCLA Alumni Association Award (team assist leader) after averaging 4.3 apg, which ranked fifth in the Pac-10. Westbrook also averaged 12.7 points per game, which ranked 17th in the league. He was also given the Bruin Bench Basketball Award for Most Improvement in All-Around Play and Mental Attitude. Westbrook, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, shared his third honor with junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Irv Pohlmeyer Memorial Award (Outstanding Defensive Player). Mbah a Moute, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic selection, averaged 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2007-08.

Junior guard Darren Collison earned the Bob "Ace" Calkins Memorial Award (Free Throw Champion) for the second straight year by shooting 87.2 percent (102-for-117) from the charity stripe. That percentage led the Pac-10 Conference, ranked 20th nationally and was seventh all-time on UCLA’s single season charts.

Josh Shipp and James Keefe shared the Bruin Hoopsters J.D. Morgan Memorial Award (Outstanding Team Play). Shipp, a junior guard/forward, finished fourth on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and third in assists (2.1 apg) and steals (1.3 spg). Keefe averaged 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game during his sophomore season that was shortened due to shoulder surgery on Aug. 10, 2007 (played in 25 of the team’s 39 games).

Senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real was given the UCLA Faculty Athletic Representative Award (Academic Achievement and Team Contribution). He averaged 3.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in his final collegiate campaign.

Junior forward/center Alfred Aboya was given the Elvin C. "Ducky" Drake Memorial Award for Competitive Spirit, Inspiration and Unselfish Contributions for the second straight year. Aboya, a second team Pac-10 Conference All-Academic selection, averaged 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in his third season with UCLA.

(photo credit: AP)


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (4/14)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


In our current team recruiting rankings, UCLA is No. 2 in the country. The backcourt should be in good shape even though the Bruins might lose all three starting guards. Three talented guards - Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee - are on their way and will work well together in Howland's three-guard offense. The only problem is that they are all freshmen. To replace Love in the middle, there is incoming freshman Drew Gordon. A different player than Love, Gordon is a top-level athlete with a high motor. However, he is limited offensively. His game is centered on his ability to outrun opponents down the court and out work/out jump them around the basket. Rivals 4/11

Incoming Bruin big man, Drew Gordon scored 15 and grabbed 7 rebounds to help lead the USA Select basketball team to a 98-78 victory over the World Select team at the 11th Annual Nike Hoop Summit held at the Rose Garden in Portland. Gordon demonstrated the type of athleticism and hustle he will bring to Westwood next season. Gordon added four blocks and seemingly was always around the action in his 18 minutes of play. The USA roster included four players who are committed to play at UCLA next fall. The group included Gordon and guards Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, and Jerime Anderson. Three of the Bruins, Gordon, Holiday, and Lee were in USA's starting line-up. Bruin Basketball Report 4/13

Drew Gordon and Demar DeRozan sat side by side at the post-Nike Hoop Summit press conference, offering insights into a 98-78 victory for the U.S. Junior National Select Team over the World Select Team on Saturday at the Rose Garden. It didn't take them long to start talking about the future. Gordon, from San Jose, Calif., is bound for UCLA next year. DeRozan, from Compton, Calif., is headed to USC. Oregonian 4/13

Fueled by seven points from Jrue Holiday (Campbell Hall H.S./ North Hollywood, Calif.), the USA posted an 11-0 run over the first four minutes of the third quarter to open a comfortable 54-42 lead and then rolled on to a comfortable 98-78 victory over the World Select Team in the 11th Nike Hoop Summit held Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. USA Basketball 4/13


Now, there is an interesting rumor involving J'Mison Morgan which is gaining legs. Word is circulating that Morgan would like to get out of his Letter of Intent with LSU and is looking at UCLA, which was one of his final schools before picking LSU. We will see if anything comes of this, but there would certainly be an opportunity for the five-star center at UCLA assuming Love leaves. If the Bruins were to land a post talent like Morgan, it certainly would help their chances of making it four Final Fours in a row.Rivals 4/11

In the end, Milton Jennings’ decision about where to play college basketball wasn’t that hard after all. “I am officially committing to Clemson,” the 6-9 junior at Pinewood Prep told The Post and Courier earlier this week. “I want to be an in-state memory.” Only a junior, Jennings, 17, has another year of high school basketball ahead of him and could have strung this decision out for many more months. But he has been recruited by some of the country’s top schools since he was a ninth-grader and thought it was time to stop the madness. Charleston Post and Courier 4/8

Upon returning from the Final Four this week, UCLA coach Ben Howland offered to hop on a plane and visit standout recruit Milton Jennings if it might delay his college decision. Howland didn't make the trip, knowing it would be a waste of time. Jennings, a 6-foot-9 forward from Pinewood Prep, said he basically made up his mind early. He committed to Clemson over UCLA, Florida, Georgetown and South Carolina. Myrtle Beach Online 4/11

Memphis and Kansas are rivals on the court tonight and recruiting every night. “We go against Kansas more than anybody else in recruiting,” Calipari said. The two are after Oklahoma City sensation Xavier Henry, son of former KU player Carl Henry. The coaches can’t discuss specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules. KU Sports 4/8

Putnam City guard Xavier Henry said Monday that he would have to reconsider his favorite schools if Kansas coach Bill Self left Lawrence for Oklahoma State. "If he was to leave, I won't say I wouldn't consider Kansas anymore, but I'd have to re-evaluate where I am with them,” Henry said. Oklahoman 4/8

Henry likes NCAA finalists: KU and Memphis are the top two schools for Xavier Henry, a 6-6 junior guard from Putnam City, Okla. Henry, the son of former KU standout Carl Henry, also likes UCLA, Texas, North Carolina, Louisville and Ohio State. He plans on taking five official visits before choosing a school next fall. “Kansas winning the national championship is awesome, but it won’t really influence my decision,” Henry told “They’ve always been a great team, and my feelings about the program have not changed.” KU Sports 4/12

Tom Crean has five scholarships remaining and has been pursuing other seniors, though most top players already have signed. The late signing period is April 16-May 21. Crean also has been reaching out to several highly touted underclassmen, including Lawrence North big man Stephan Van Treese, the state's top-ranked junior. Because of IU-imposed restrictions, Crean must wait until Aug. 1 to recruit off campus or bring players in for official visits. Muncie Star Press 4/9

Boo Williams Invitational: Daniel Orton THE ID: Oklahoma City, Bishop McGuinness High School, 6-9, C, Athletes First 17-and-under. CONSIDERING: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Maryland and Syracuse. THE SKINNY: Rated the No. 14 prospect in the class of 2009, Orton erases shots and finishes with authority in the paint. Daily Press 4/9

Boo Williams Invitational: DaShonte Riley THE ID: Beverly Hills, Mich., Detroit Country Day School, 6-10, C, The Family 17-and-under. CONSIDERING: Duke, Boston College, Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, UCLA and USC. THE SKINNY: Rated the No. 16 prospect in the class of 2009, Riley isn't as polished offensively, but his defensive presence and rebounding ability are what makes him tough. Daily Press 4/9

As next week's national signing day for high school basketball players approaches, Gophers fans await the decision of 6-11 center Krys Faber, a star at Ribet Academy in Los Angeles who has attracted more interest recently from big schools like USC and UCLA. But even if the Bruins come calling for Faber, his high school coach, Willie Middlebrooks, said he believes Minnesota will remain the front-runner, even after a recruiting trip to DePaul today. "If everything was [finalized] today, he'd be a Gopher," he said. Star Tribune 4/10

Lance Stephenson's tour will likely include a stop at UCLA on Saturday while he is in Los Angeles for the Difference Matchup Tournament. "While we're out here we're going to take a look at UCLA," Lance "Stretch" Stephenson Sr. said Friday by phone from L.A. "Probably (Saturday)." The 6-foot-5 Stephenson, the No. 4 player in the Class of 2009, is playing on Renardo Sidney's AAU team, the LA Dream Team, for this event. The 6-foot-10 Sidney is ranked No. 1 in the Class by Rivals. Scarlet Nation 4/11

Frank Ben-Eze 6-foot-10 C Arlington Bishop O'Connell (Va.) - This former Harvard commit re-opened his recruitment in March, but its just recently started to take off for this raw, but athletic big man. He is currently hearing from UCLA, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, LSU, Pittsburgh and Rutgers. He could also add Indiana, since he visited Marquette in the fall, stay tuned on that one. CSTV 4/11

(photo credit: AP)


Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Frank Ben-Eze

BBR Home > Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Frank Ben-Eze

Frank Ben-Eze
C | 6'10 | 230

Status: Prospect
Class: 2008
Hometown: Arlington, VA
School: Bishop O'Connell HS
Position Rank (aggregate): C #25
Schools of Interest: UCLA, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, LSU, Pittsburgh and Rutgers