Jason Kapono To Stay In School And Return For Junior Season

April 24, 2001

UCLA sophomore Jason Kapono, who was a finalist for the 2001 Wooden Award,is staying in school and will return for his junior season in 2001-02. OnTuesday Kapono said he was not entering the upcoming NBA draft.

In 2000-01, Kapono, a 6-8, 210-pounder from Lakewood and Artesia HS,started 31 of 32 games and led the Bruins in minutes (35.1, 1122 total minutes,No. 10 in school single-season history), scoring (17.2), three-point (45.7,84-184, No. 4 in school single-season history) and free throw percentage (86.9,133-153, No. 6 in school single-season history). For the second year in a row,he set the school single-season record for three-pointers (84). Along with beinga Wooden Award finalist, Kapono also earned honorable mention AP All-America andfirst-team All-Pacific-10. In the final 2001 Pac-10 statistics (all games),Kapono was fifth in scoring (17.2), 15th in rebounding (5.7), second in freethrow percentage (86.9), third in three-point percentage (45.7) and first inthree-point field goals (2.62 per game).

As a freshman in 1999-2000, Kapono was the CBS Sportsline National Freshmanof the Year and co-Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, while again earning first-teamAll-Conference honors. As a frosh, he tied a school record by starting all 33games, led the Bruins in scoring (16.0) and was the highest scoring freshman inthe Pac-10. His UCLA single-season three-point record in 2000 was 82 (made).Following his freshman season, on May 13, 2000, Kapono said that he was going to'test the waters' and consider his options with regard to entering the 2000 NBADraft. He did not sign with an agent and on June 16, 2000 announced he wasstaying in school and would return for his sophomore season.

After two seasons as a Bruin, Kapono's UCLA career chart rankings are No.37 in scoring (1,080, 16.6), No. 1 in three-point percentage (46.5, 166-357),No. 3 in three-pointers (166), No. 4 in three-point attempts (357) and No. 9 infree throw percentage (79.8, 198-248).

' I wanted to stay in school ,' Kapono said. 'I'm not ready to give up mycollege experience and education, and I want to keep playing for the Bruins.With regard to basketball, we?ve been so close the last two years, I feel wehave some unfinished business.' In each of Kapono?s first two seasons as aBruin, UCLA advanced to the NCAA 'Sweet 16'.

On April 10, UCLA junior center Dan Gadzuric announced he would stay at UCLA(and not enter the 2001 NBA draft). The Bruins next season will now return theirtop scorer (Kapono) and rebounder (Gadzuric), along with returning starters,seniors-to-be, 6-7 forward Matt Barnes and 6-5 guard Billy Knight.'I've always believed that Jason was going to stay in school and return for hisjunior season,' UCLA head coach Steve Lavin said. 'By choosing to stay inschool, clearly Jason and Dan have made their UCLA academic and athleticexperience a priority in their lives.

'For our basketball program, with Jason staying, our lineup is bolstered withthe presence of last season?s leading scorer and first-team All-Conferenceplayer,' Lavin said. 'We now have four of our five starters back, along with thereturning veterans and incoming freshman class. As a staff, we are certainlylooking forward to the upcoming season.'

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