Friday, June 06, 2008

Mural in Honor of John Wooden Unveiled at Local School

By Bruin Basketball Report

On Friday morning at John R. Wooden High School in Reseda, Principal Jay Kessler unveiled a beautiful 20'x25' mural dedicated to UCLA Coach John Wooden.

Joining Wooden were friends, family, civic leaders, and L.A. Unified school officials.

Local artist Hector Rios worked three months on the mural with assistance from students.

The mural depicts significant moments and important people in Wooden's life, including front and center on the mural his beloved wife Nell.

(photo credit: Daily News)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Morgan Signs Grant-in-Aid With UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

(via UCLA press release)

UCLA has received a signed grant-in-aid form from high school senior J'Mison Morgan, Bruin head coach Ben Howland announced today.

I am very, very excited that J'Mison is going to be attending UCLA and be a part of our program," said Howland.

"He is a true center with excellent hands and outstanding overall skills. He is a fine passer, shot blocker and rebounder. J'Mison completes a five-player 2008 class that we believe gives us a great foundation for the future."

Morgan, from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, TX, joins a UCLA freshman class ranked No. 1 nationally by virtually every recruiting service and website. It includes forward Drew Gordon and guards Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee.

The 6-10, 248-pound senior was rated the nation's No. 2 center by and the No. 4 player at his position by He originally signed a letter of intent with LSU but was released from that commitment last month.

Morgan averaged 13.5 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots for South Oak Cliff.

(photo by Erkki Corpuz)


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

NBA Draft Deadline Looms for UCLA Players

By Bruin Basketball Report

Much has transpired since Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Josh Shipp declared for the NBA draft last month. Let's catch up on some of the activity.

Declared players have up until June 16 to remove their names from the NBA draft in order to retain their college playing eligibility. The draft is scheduled for June 26.

Already one player has pulled out of the draft. Josh Shipp will play his senior season in Westwood. Shipp, the team's third-leading scorer last season at 12.7 points per game, will join Darren Collison to give UCLA some returning veteran offensive firepower. Collison announced last month he was foregoing the NBA draft to return to UCLA for his final campaign.

The Bruin players still with their names in the draft are Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Draft Express lists the following measurements and performance numbers for these three players from the NBA draft camp held in Orlando:

Kevin Love
No shoes - 6'7.75"
With shoes - 6'9.5"
Wingspan - 6'11.25"
Body fat - 12.9%
Standing jump - 29.5"
Vertical jump - 35.0"
3/4 court sprint - 3.22 sec

Russell Westbrook
No shoes - 6'2.25"
With shoes - 6'3.5"
Wingspan - 6'7.75"
Body fat - 4.8%
Standing jump - 30.0"
Vertical jump - 36.5"
3/4 court sprint - 3.08 sec

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
No shoes - 6'5.75"
With shoes - 6'7.5"
Wingspan - 7'0.5"
Body fat - 7.0%
Standing jump - 32.0"
Vertical jump - 38.5"
3/4 court sprint - 3.17 sec

Of the three players, only Mbah a Moute participated in the games at the NBA camp in Orlando, while both Love and Westbrook were only present for the physical measurements and skills tests. All three players will audition for individual NBA teams over the next few weeks.

Kevin Love is gone. He signed with a sports agent last week and there is no coming back to UCLA, at least as a basketball player. His stock has risen since he declared for the draft. Love has been projected as high as a top five pick to no lower than a top ten.

The freshman center has worked hard over the last few months to improve his skills and shed some weight. He has been working out with a trainer regularly at the Home Depot training center. Love has already lost 15-20 and has improved his quickness and agility as evidenced by his camp performance.

Love should become UCLA's first lottery pick since Jerome Moiso in 2000 and Baron Davis in 1999. Minnesota, the Clippers, and Milwaukee have been mentioned as possible destinations for Love.

Drafted not too far behind Love will be sophomore guard Russell Westbrook. Although he has not yet hired an agent, Westbrook will almost assuredly stay in the draft. He has impressed teams at individual workouts and may sneak in as a lottery pick. Teams have noted his athleticism, aggressiveness, and court acumen.

Lottery teams such as the Clippers, Indiana, and Sacramento have shown deep interest in the services of Westbrook.

Although Mbah a Moute is only a borderline first-round to a second-round pick, he may still elect to stay in the draft. Mbah a Moute is very close to graduating from UCLA and has reportedly indicated he may jump to the NBA if he can get at least a second-round draft guarantee from a team. Only first-round choices earn a guaranteed two-year contract.

If Mbah a Moute does not make it to the NBA, he still has the option of playing overseas; however, its likely an NBA team will take a chance on the 6'8 forward.

At the NBA camp in Orlando and during individual team workouts, Mbah a Moute has shown the type of tenacious defense and rebounding that made him invaluable in Coach Ben Howland's defensive scheme. He has shown scouts he can guard quick point guards and big post men. Despite not shooting well or displaying good offensive skills at tryouts, teams such as the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks still have shown interest in him.

At this juncture, Mbah a Moute is still undecided and may still return to UCLA. He has until June 16 and has a number of indiviual team tryouts still scheduled, including one with the Boston Celtics.

UCLA's chances for a fourth consecutive Final Four and a NCAA championship would definitely improve if Mbah a Moute decided to return. His defense and rebounding would help to solidify a talented yet inexperienced front line.

Although the Bruins will likely have Alfred Aboya returning for his senior season, the only other depth up front would be junior James Keefe, and freshmen J'mison Morgan and Drew Gordon.

(photo credit: AP)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (6/2)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Reeves Nelson (6-6, 220), Junior, Modesto, Calif./ Modesto Christian, Nelson may be the biggest enigma of the West Coast Class of 2009. Last summer, Nelson played with much greater urgency and attacked the basket with reckless abandon each time out. However, during his spring campaign, he appears to have thickened up (body-wise) and has lost a considerable amount of bounce. In addition, his skills have not developed as I had hoped. His jump shot needs refining in both technique and selection, and he has constantly forced the issue off the bounce. Nelson at times has dominated because of his physical strength. However, I'm very skeptical to how effective he'll be at the Pac-10 level. On the positive side, his handle is solid and he's a very capable passer, but the way his body is developing and with his lack of a consistent jump shot, Nelson is projected to being an undersized 4-man with a shaky face-up game. ESPN 5/28

J'Mison (Bobo) Morgan had been listed at 6'10" for awhile, but his high school coach recently told The Times' Diane Pucin that he's now 6'11". Listed heights for college athletes are frequently unreliable, and it's important to take them with a grain of salt. As early as high school, players/coaches/parents may slightly inflate those type of stats to make a player sound more appealing to colleges, more intimidating to opponents, etc. LA Times 5/29

Archbishop Mitty's Drew Gordon unleashed the best discus throw of his life Friday at the 90th annual CIF State High School Track and Field Championship with a mark of 180 feet 2 inches to qualify for today's final. But the UCLA-bound senior has another milestone to celebrate today in San Jose - Mitty's graduation ceremonies. Gordon plans to participate in both events - building up his frequent flier points in the process."Graduation is pretty important, it's something that I didn't want to miss," said Gordon, whose throw was the fourth-best of the day behind Dayhsan Regans of Foothill (203-07). After undergoing minor knee surgery to repair a frayed meniscus three weeks ago, the cross-over basketball star has felt more comfortable on the discus ring than throwing the shot. Mercury News 5/31

There was a nice chemistry between UCLA bound class of 2010 guard Kendall Williams and 2009 Georgian Brandon Reed on Saturday afternoon. Williams was in a zone in a big time, confidence snatching victory. The 6-foot-2 guard showed off great speed, great passing and good to great shooting in the tussle. Williams made quick friends with Reed, who was dangerous from deep and ready to score at the rim. Both had it dialed in for 20-plus points. Williams excelled at the point while Reed shined at the two. Both were amongst the best at their respective positions on Saturday. Gator Bait 6/1


Just because it deserves repeated mentioning, the 2009 class, at this point, looks like it could be a huge one for KU. The top four players in the class – G John Wall, G Xavier Henry (that’s pronounced Zah-vee-ay, by the way), PF Derrick Favors and PF Renardo Sidney all list Kansas, and Henry has reportedly all-but eliminated everyone except KU and Memphis. Furthermore, players Nos. 7, 8 and 11 are also considering Kansas. That’s G Lance Stephenson, C Daniel Orton and G Dominic Cheek. Topeka-Capital Journal 5/27

Rising senior wing Nolan Dennis seemed somewhat awestruck Friday night playing his first game inside the Smith Center at UNC. Dennis, a slender 6-5 wing from Texas, is being recruited by Carolina and expressed his admiration for the Tar Heels’ arena. “This place is huge,” he said. “Walking in here, I can tell you that I want to play in a place like this.” Dennis, who said Carolina was his favorite college program growing up, is also being courted by Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas and UCLA. He would fit UNC’s need for a versatile wing. Fay Observer 5/27

Tyler Honeycutt (6-7, 180), Junior, Sylmar, Calif., If Honeycutt continues to progress at this rate, he may turn out to be the No. 1 wing in the Class of 2009 on the West Coast. He appears to be taller each time out and is quickly approaching 6-8. He has that Austin Daye feel to him at this stage, and he is nowhere near reaching his potential. His jump shot has become much more consistent this spring and his passing continues to amaze me each time out. Whom he guards at the next level is still in question, but offensively he has high-major tools. ESPN 5/28

Renardo Sidney (6-9, 250), Junior, Los Angeles/ Fairfax, Every year there are always couple of superstar talents who fail to dominate when they should -- including past greats like Chris Washburn, Shawn Kemp and Vince Carter, and the more recent B.J. Mullens.Sidney's effort doesn't always match his tremendous ability.Whether it's boredom or a lack of competitive drive there always appears to be something missing. Sidney has unique ability and his overall talent speaks volumes, but if he ever got nasty from a physical standpoint, it would be over. He has a plethora of offensive skills, but unfortunately most of his skills are showcased on the perimeter. Sidney dominated this event because there was no one close to his talent and size to challenge him. If he takes his conditioning seriously and develops a back-to-the basket game, he should be a high lottery pick. ESPN 5/28

Kyle Caudill, a 6-10 freshman out of Brea, Calif./ Brea Olinda, is absolutely huge. He doesn't have much bounce, but he has terrific hands and uses either hand equally well while converting inside. ESPN 5/28

Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot-9 power forward from San Diego, is the nation's top-ranked high school sophomore basketball player in the nation, according to Tyler, a 240-pound sophomore at San Diego High School, led the Cavers to a 23-5 record in 2007-08 and won the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section Division I crown for the first time in 33 years. Tyler averaged 18 points, 14.5 rebounds and 7.7 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field last season. North Carolina, Florida, UCLA, Duke and Georgetown are among the schools that have contacted Tyler. Transworld News 5/29

Jeremy Tyler was working on another. The 6-foot-9 forward showed flashes of why he sits atop of the 2010 rankings. He dribbled in from the high post to the low block and banked in a jumper early in the game. He knew when he had a mismatch down low and went right to the rim. Tyler showed some nifty footwork down low and scored at the rim whenever he really wanted. His passing skills in the post were also at a high level. Tyler is a big time talent and that has never been a question mark. It's just a matter of when he wants to be a talent. For the first half of the first game of the night, the San Diego native looked like he wanted to shine. Gator Bait 5/31

If Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley get their way, the Bellarmine Prep pair will be basketball teammates after they graduate from high school. Gaddy sent college basketball coaches scurrying to revive recruiting pitches Thursday when The News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year withdrew his oral commitment to attend the University of Arizona. Gaddy, who is rated as the No. 2 point guard in the nation by, and Bradley, a fellow junior and ranked as the No. 9 shooting guard, say they want to be a package deal. “We’re perfect together,” said Bradley, a 6-foot-2 senior-to-be. “No one can stop us.” The 6-foot-3 Gaddy said changes in Arizona’s coaching staff led him to back off his commitment. But he still could become a Wildcat. “Arizona is still the front-runner,” he said Friday` evening, wearing an Arizona sweatshirt as he sat in the stands at Seattle’s Franklin High at the Quaker Summer Slam basketball tournament. “I’m giving them, along with some other schools, a chance to re-recruit me.” News Tribune 5/31

Lance Stephenson, a 6-5 guard from Brooklyn's historic Lincoln High School, has narrowed his list to UCLA, USC and Kansas, according to an report. Stephenson is the No. 7 overall player in the class of 2009, according to, one of six top 10 players from that class still considering KU. Topeka Capital Journal 5/31

The Michael Snaer show was on in prime time on Saturday night. The California wing was outstanding. Snaer's ability to shoot off the bounce is his best asset. In fact, his fall-away deep perimeter shot was one of the best overall basketball moves of the day. The 6-foot-5 rising senior also showed off some freaky athleticism with a constant barrage of attacks to the rim where he scored with dunks and tip-ins. Once he tightens up his ball-handling skills and goes to his athleticism more, Snaer's offensive package will be one of the best in the West, if it isn't already. Gator Bait 6/1

(photo credit: ESPN)