Saturday, April 26, 2008

Collison Announces Return To UCLA For Senior Season

By Bruin Basketball Report

Junior Darren Collison has decided to remain at UCLA for his senior season, he announced during a teleconference this afternoon.

The UCLA point-guard averaged 14.5 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 48.1% from the field including 52.5% from beyond the arc in 33 games. Collison also led the team in free-throw shooting at 87.2%.

"Its my chance to do something special in my senior year", Collison said. "It wasn't until this last week that I made the decision to return."

He had considered entering the draft after last season but decided instead to remain at UCLA. At the time, some scouts had projected Collison to be a middle to late first-round draft choice

"I'm in a good financial situation thanks to my parent," Collison said. "It helped make my decision easier."

Collison battled back from an early knee injury in the season this year to be named a third-team All-American as well as second-team All-Pac-10 player. However, Collison struggled mightily during the NCAA postseason tournament and may have hurt his draft stock in the meantime.

"I want to improve my medium range jump shot," Collison said. "Fill all the holes in my game."

Mock drafts had Collison going somewhere in the late first-round, although some felt he might slip further in the draft especially with so many quality underclassmen declaring early.

"I have no doubt Darren would have been a first-round draft choice this season," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "It tears me up thinking about his loyalty to the program and it will be very special with him returning next year."

While UCLA has a stellar freshmen class, with three highly-rated backcourt players in Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, and Jerime Anderson arriving next season, the team would certainly benefit with the return of experienced players.

"We have a good class coming in and I'm excited about the players who are returning," Collison said.

Howland feels Collison could improve his strength and put additional weight. He thinks Collison could get up to 175 pounds this summer.

"It gives us an All-American at the starting point," Howland said. "We have arguably the best point-guard in the nation next season."

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Friday, April 25, 2008

Darren Collison Press Conference Scheduled For Saturday

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA third-team All-American junior Darren Collison will hold a press conference tomorrow at 2:00 PM PT to announce his future basketball plans.

Collison played in his third consecutive Final Four tournament this year helping the Bruins get to the semifinal game. He was second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per contest while handing out 3.8 assists. The 6'1 point guard also shot 52.5% from the three-point line.

Despite having a disappointing NCAA tournament this year, it is widely expected that Collison will enter the draft without an agent in order to test the waters. Some scouts project Collison going anywhere from the late first-round to early second in the draft.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (4/21)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Modesto Christian junior Reeves Nelson was named to the all-state first team for boys basketball. That means, which has covered high school sports for 30 years, feels Nelson is one of the top 10 basketball players in the state, regardless of division. Nelson, who was also named to the all-state Division IV and all-state junior teams, averaged 26 points and 17 rebounds per game for the 29-5 Crusaders. Nelson, The Bee's 2008 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, is verbally committed to UCLA. Modesto Bee 4/15

Following a postseason filled with accolades, Campbell Hall of North Hollywood's Jrue Holiday and Taft of Woodland Hills' Larry Drew added two more honors this week with their selections to the Cal-Hi Sports' all-state list and EA Sports All-America roster. The UCLA-bound Holiday, Cal-Hi Sports' Mr. Basketball and the Gatorade national player of the year, was one of 10 all-state first-team honorees and among 20 first-team All-Americans. Daily News 4/16

2008 Nike Hoop Summit Official Measurements:
Player Name, Height (W/Shoes), Wingspan
Jerime Anderson, 6-3, 6-5.25
Malcolm Lee, 6-5.5, 6-9
Jrue Holiday, 6-4, 6-7.75
Drew Gordon, 6-9.25, 7-0
Malcolm Lee has always been listed as a 6-4 combo guard, but with his near prototypical size for an NBA shooting guard, particularly with his superb 6-9 wingspan, there is really no need for that. He should even have the size to play the 3 at UCLA, although he clearly needs to add some bulk to his skinny frame. Draft Express 4/18

USA TODAY held a roundtable discussion with Arizona-bound Brandon Jennings, UCLA recruit Drew Gordon, North Carolina signee Ed Davis and Connecticut-bound Kemba Walker as part of the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game this weekend. USA Today 4/18

Jrue Holiday's final stop in a star-studded prep career will be today at one of the country's basketball meccas. After appearances in the McDonald's All-American game and Nike Hoop Summit the past month, the Campbell Hall of North Hollywood senior will compete in the seventh annual Nike Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game at 6 p.m. PST today at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game will be televised live on ESPN2. The UCLA-bound Holiday will compete on the Blue team, along with fellow Bruins signees Drew Gordon (Archbishop Mitty of San Jose) and Malcolm Lee (JW North of Riverside). Daily News 4/18

UCLA is getting one terrifically athletic basketball recruit in 6-9, 230-pound Drew Gordon of Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, Calif. As a 15-year-old, he threw the shot put 58-3 and the discus 177-6..... Another UCLA big man, Dan Gadzuric of Governor Dummer in Byfield (now Governor's Academy), was a rather impressive athlete. At New England Preps his senior year, he won four events: shot put (57-5), discus (160-4) and high jump (6-6) while running a 50.4 relay leg at the New Englands. Eagle Tribune 4/20

Arizona-bound Brandon Jennings (Oak Hill Academy/Los Angeles, CA) earned co-Most Valuable Player honors tonight on basketball’s biggest stage, Madison Square Garden, as he finished with 10 points and 14 assists to lead the Blue Jerseys to the 124-114 victory over the White Jerseys at the 2008 Jordan Brand Classic, presented by Foot Locker and Boost Mobile. Roster of players going to UCLA: Drew Gordon (San Jose, CA/UCLA), Jrue Holiday (N. Hollywood, CA/UCLA), Malcolm Lee (Riverside, CA/UCLA). Business Wire 4/20

Malcolm Lee – Lee has the savvy and floor game of an older, more experienced player. While he is far from leaving anything to be desired with his great athleticism, he is a very heady point guard with an accurate outside shot, which he only utilizes in appropriate situations. He rarely forces things the way most high school guards do. NBA DraftNet 4/20

Zeller, the only nonguard in the contest, edged UCLA signee Jerime Anderson. Zeller, a 7-foot forward and Indiana's Mr. Basketball, led Washington to the Class 3-A state title. Courier Journal 4/20

Jordan Brand Classic Practices (Day One): Jrue Holiday didn’t seem to be get the memo that the players here are preparing for an all-star game, and in his all-business, no-nonsense fashion, quietly began to set the tone for his team by picking up his intensity on the defensive end. His size, strength, wingspan and fundamentally sound defense were a little too much for the smaller Jennings to handle, and the flow of his offense really began to sputter as the tempo of the game slowed down. He looked a little bit frustrated at certain points, either pounding the ball excessively with nowhere to go, or just dishing it out passively and getting out of the way—wanting no business with Holiday, who didn’t seem to show any emotion at all. Draft Express 4/18

Jordan Brand Classic Scrimmage (Day Two): Amongst the wing players, possibly the most impressive of the bunch today was Malcolm Lee, a super-long armed athlete who brings tons of versatility to the table as well with his defense, unselfishness, playmaking skills and transition play. He got in the passing lanes on a few occasions and didn’t have a problem giving the ball up, while also knocking down a couple of not-so-pretty looking spot-up 3-pointers. He looks to us like a shorter version of Corey Brewer, lanky frame and all. Draft Express 4/19

Jordan Brand Classic Games (Day Three): The fact that this was an all-star game where many of his colleagues played virtually no defense didn’t seem to impress Malcolm Lee at all—he continued to get right in his man’s face, contesting shots and also making a significant effort to crash the glass. He’s a tough kid who doesn’t back down and never gives up on a play—which is going to make him very popular with Ben Howland. He’s still a raw player who has plenty of work to do on polishing up his all-around skill-set in many facets of the game (his off hand, body, perimeter shooting, advanced ball-handling skills), but has considerable upside and should emerge as a legit prospect down the road. Draft Express 4/21

Jordan Brand Classic Games (Day Three): Fellow UCLA commit Jrue Holiday also played his typical fantastic defense, but wasn’t much of a factor on the other end of the floor (5 points, 3 assists, 6 turnovers, 1-9 FG, 19 minutes). He did a great job staying in front of his man on the perimeter, contesting and even blocking shots and showing terrific timing recovering when getting beat, again putting a lot of effort into doing little things for his team. He did settle for some ill-advised 3-pointers at times, and looked out of control at times with his ball-handling, but also showed terrific body control taking the ball to the rim on a beautiful drive. Draft Express 4/21


J'Mison Morgan, a five-star recruit and the nation's sixth-best center prospect according to, remains mum about his commitment to the Tigers and has reportedly contacted other universities. UCLA assistant coach Donny Daniels left a message for Morgan shortly after LSU fired Brady, according to a February report in the Press-Enterprise. Despite Johnson's hiring, Morgan's AAU coach, Jazzy Hartwell, told the Press-Enterprise that UCLA has continued to pursue the Dallas prospect. "They call a lot," Hartwell told the paper. Daily Reveille 4/16

Ater Majok played this year at the Heat Academy in Martinsville, Va. He originally committed to Baylor, then changed his mind and is now considering Connecticut, Kentucky and KU. He's visiting Kentucky this weekend, UConn on April 26 and KU on May 2-3. Wichita Eagle 4/16

Renardo Sidney, who is presently at No. 1, is about as skilled a player you will see at 6 feet 10. Beyond being highly skilled with the basketball, Sidney also has tremendous body control. However, he is not what you would term an explosive athlete. Rivals 4/18

No. 2 ranked prospect Xavier Henry was quite impressive last weekend at the Boo Williams Invitational. A left-handed pure shooter at 6 feet 6, Henry also has the strength and skill level to do pretty much everything well on the court. He's not overly creative on the bounce at this stage of his career, but he can get his shot off whenever he needs to. Rivals 4/18

Krys Faber may not have grown tired of Los Angeles weather, but he is ready for a new area for basketball. Faber, a 6-foot-11-inch senior center from Ribet Academy in Los Angeles, committed to DePaul late Thursday night, drawn in part by the Big East's style of play. "I've been playing West Coast ball so long," Faber said Friday. "I'm looking forward to going against the same strength and size night in, night out." Chicago Tribune 4/18

One of the more interesting developments is for the ASU basketball team. Christian Polk is transferring, opening up an extra scholarship. There have been rumors of that scholarship going to a “foreign big-man” this year, but we haven’t even been given a name. More likely, this will put ASU on the offensive in trying to land a 2009 big man like Renardo Sidney, Brendan Lane, or Anthony Stover. Sidney, the #1 power forward in the 2009 class and future NBA lottery pick, could come to ASU if his good friend James Harden decides to stay for his junior year. AZ Sports Hub 4/18

Ater Majok's background is intriguing. He's a refugee from Sudan who lived in Egypt for a few years before moving with his family to Australia eight years ago. He loves history, reading and debating and hopes someday to use those skills as a lawyer.Oh, and he's also a budding basketball prospect. Only three years after taking up the game, the 6-foot-10 Majok has become one of the hottest unsigned names in the 2008 recruiting class....Majok said he has cut his list from more than 30 schools. He'll visit Connecticut next weekend and will make one more visit, to either Kansas, Memphis or UCLA. Courier Journal 4/18

Daniel Orton, another Oklahoma City product who plays for Bishop McGuinness High School, is also rated as one of the best juniors at his position. But unlike Xavier Henry, Orton is in no hurry to trim his college options, saying there are 25 schools that remain in the hunt. Orton and his 7-5 wingspan were enough to inspire Oklahoma State Coach Travis Ford to head out to Conway about 48 hours after he was formally introduced as the program’s new coach. Arkansas Democrat Gazette 4/20

New Louisiana State coach Trent Johnson has asked Butch Pierre to remain on the staff as an assistant, the newspaper in Baton Rouge, The Advocate, reported on Saturday. Pierre was instrumental in recruiting highly regarded big man J'Mison Morgan. Morgan, who considered reopening his recruitment, told The Advocate that he liked what he heard from Johnson, who has tutored such big men as Brook and Robin Lopez and Jason and Jarron Collins at Stanford, plus Nick Fazekas at Nevada. Lexington Herald-Leader 4/20

(photo credit: AP)