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)


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Forward Brendan Lane Verbally Commits To UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Junior Brendan Lane from Rocklin High School near Sacramento has verbally committed to play at UCLA in 2009.

The talented 6'10 205lb forward averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds last season at Rocklin. Along with earlier commit, Reeves Nelson, it gives the Bruins two of the best forwards in the West from the 2009 class.

"I thought UCLA was the right place, so I committed today," Lane said on Saturday. "I definitely like the place, the academics, the location, everything about it."

Lane wanted to play his college ball in California and also had both Stanford and California on his short list, however, with his interest to learn how to play better defense, UCLA was the obvious choice to him. In addition, the recent coaching upheavals at Cal and Stanford played into Lane's final decision.

“UCLA’s style is definitely where I want to be,” Lane said. “I want to have the defensive mentality they have at UCLA. The mentality that Ben Howland coaches.”

Lane is a versatile forward who can score from inside and has a good midrange jumper. His size and mobility will allow him to play either the 3 and 4 spot on the floor.

"I definitely like to play up-tempo," Lane said. "I am a forward who can play inside, but step outside and make a shot."

Lane will likely sign a national letter of intent with UCLA during the November signing period.

(photo credit: SacBee)


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (6/16)

By Bruin Basketball Report 

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday. 


Two athletes on the trials roster will return to the hardwood to represent the USA for a third time in July. Drew Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S. / San Jose, CA) and Malcom Lee (John W. North H.S. / Riverside, CA) helped lead the USA to a 98-78 victory over the World Select Team at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. Gordon, the Junior National Team's second-leading scorer, accounted for 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks while shooting 85.7 percent from the field. However, in spite of his stellar performance, Gordon credited much of the team's success to the USA's backcourt play. Among the cast of tenacious guards was Lee, who helped force 25 World turnovers and 18 USA steals. WKYT 6/10 


Maintaining the No. 2 rating is versatile 6-6 G/F Xavier Henry (Oklahoma City/Putnam City). Henry is a gifted outside shooter and an explosive athlete when he slashes to the hoop. He somewhat reminds us of Kobe Bryant as a high schooler. His father played basketball at Kansas, and the Jayhawks are considered the favorites to land Henry's services, though he also is interested in other schools, including Texas, UCLA and Memphis. ESPN 6/11 

Now rated No. 4 is the pride of the Big Apple, 6-5 G/F Lance Stephenson (New York/Lincoln). Stephenson has an NBA body and is a gifted scorer from all shooting ranges. He most definitely has the talent and will get all of the New York City hype to push him toward looking like the top player in this class. However, he is somewhat of an enigma to us. We have seen him lose his composure on and off the court, and he has participated in a limited number of events outside the New York area this spring. ESPN 6/11 

At No. 6, but with the size, talent and potential to become the ultimate dominator of this class is 6-foot-10, 260-pound center/forward Renardo Sidney (Los Angeles/Fairfax). Like Stephenson, Sidney is somewhat of a riddle. His abilities are obvious, but he has a tendency to disappear in some games. Perhaps Sidney is one of those guys who plays well only when he feels like it. He has been missing in action from most of the top spring events. Reportedly Sidney will attend the Reebok All-American Camp in Philadelphia from July 8-10. ESPN 6/11 

One of the would-be prospects will be on campus this weekend. Stephan Van Treese, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Greg Oden's alma mater, Indianapolis Lawrence North, will participate with his teammates in Ohio State's team camp Saturday and Sunday. Van Treese, who attended Kansas' elite camp last weekend, told that the five schools he is considering are Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State and UCLA. Rivals ranks Van Treese No. 121 on its list of the top 150 recruits in 2009. Columbus Dispatch 6/13

Xavier Henry looked down at the machine pumping cold pressure to his right foot Saturday morning and learned he couldn't go anywhere for 24 minutes. Henry, the smooth 6-foot-6 guard from Oklahoma City, leaned back against a wall at the Finch Center and just smiled, displaying the same patience and disposition that has characterized his entire recruiting process to this point. Despite being hounded by questions for at least two years about where he plans on playing college basketball, the easy-going lefty said Saturday he's in no hurry to make a decision, which will have a massive impact on the 2009 recruiting efforts of several schools, including the University of Memphis. Commercial Appeal 6/15 

Rumble in the Bronx: The Dream Team's Renardo Sidney's first shot would be an air ball as Kevin Parrom and Omari Lawrence did damage inside the paint for the Panthers. With 10:52 left in the first half, the Panthers were already up 18-2 with classic NY run n' gun offense as Graham continued to be white hot from the arc. The only way the LA Dream Team could stop the bleeding was to call a time out. With 9:18 left, the Dream Team was still down by 13 points as Jordan Hamilton was off from outside as fouls began to plague the team from California. Hamilton would finally get hot, hitting two quick jumpers and with 7:12 left in the half, the Dream Team was now only down by 7 points. Scarlet Nation 6/15