2006 UCLA Men's Basketball Summer Outlook

July 24, 2006

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From Ben Howland's UCLA 2006 squad that advanced to the NCAA Championship game, the Bruins return two starters - 6-5 junior guard Arron Afflalo, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection who led UCLA in scoring (15.8), and 6-7 sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who led the Bruins in rebounding (8.2) and the Pac-10 in FG% (.538) and was the conference Freshman of the Year.

The Bruins also return seven lettermen, including 6-5 sophomore forward Josh Shipp, who last season was only able to play in four games because of a right hip injury (NCAA medical hardship waiver); 6-0 sophomore point guard Darren Collison, who appeared in all 39 games (starting twice) and 6-8 junior center Lorenzo Mata, who because of injury was able to play in only 21 games (eight starts), but still averaged 3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots a game. The Bruins will not have a senior on this year's roster.

New freshmen talent on the Bruin roster includes - 6-8 McDonald's All-American forward James Keefe (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Santa Margarita Catholic HS) and 6-3 guard Russell Westbrook (Hawthorne, CA/Leuzinger HS).

The Bruins will have a new look on their coaching staff for 2006-07. As Howland and assistant coaches Donny Daniels and Kerry Keating enter their third season at UCLA, the Bruins' new assistant coach is Scott Garson, who for the last two seasons has been UCLA's video coordinator. Garson replaces Ernie Zeigler, who on June 29 was named the new head coach at Central Michigan.

UCLA does lose three starters - 6-2 junior point guard Jordan Farmar, another first-team All-Pac-10 selection who led the conference in assists (5.11) and who was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers, along with two seniors - 6-6 forward Cedric Bozeman and 7-0 ½ center Ryan Hollins, who was drafted in the second round by the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bruins also lose two other senior lettermen, 7-0 center Michael Fey and 6-3 guard Janou Rubin.

In 2005-06, overcoming a season-long injury jinx (every scholarship player was injured during the season/seven players missed a total of 89 games due to injury), UCLA advanced to the NCAA Championship game, losing to Florida, 73-57. In school history, it was UCLA's 16th Final Four (tied for No. 1 on the NCAA list), with a 26-6 overall record. In the UCLA's storied NCAA Championship Game history (13 occasions), the Bruins hold an NCAA record 11 National titles and an overall record of 11-2.

During its NCAA Tournament run, No. 2 seed UCLA recorded wins over Belmont (78-44) and Alabama (62-59) in San Diego; Gonzaga (73-71, in a historic NCAA 'Sweet 16' Tournament game ending, the Bruins held Gonzaga scoreless for the final 3:27 and overcame a nine-point deficit by scoring 11 consecutive points) and Memphis (50-45, NCAA 'Elite Eight') in Oakland and LSU (59-45, NCAA 'Final Four') in Indianapolis.

The Bruins won both the Pac-10 regular season (14-4/ first time since 1997) and Tournament (first time since 1987) championships. UCLA set a school record for most games played (39, 32-7) and tied a school mark for most wins (32, tied with UCLA's 1995 NCAA Championship team, 32-1).

UCLA's trademark was its tenacious defense - allowing opponents just 58.7 points per game (No. 10 in the U. S./No. 4 in school history (49.0, 1949/50.8, 1948/53.5, 1950/58.7, 2006/58.9, 1959). An example of UCLA's end of the season tough team defense came in UCLA's 50-45 victory over Memphis to capture the NCAA Oakland Regional (earlier in the season, Memphis defeated UCLA 88-80 in an NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal contest at Madison Square Garden in New York City). The Bruins entered the NCAA Championship contest with a 12-game winning streak (at the time, the longest in the nation/in UCLA's final 13 games (12-1), the Bruins averaged 68.5 points and held opponents to 55.4).

Returning Starters
Arron Afflalo - on July 19, UCLA announced that Afflalo had a left foot stress reaction, was in a walking boot, and with rest and rehabilitation, could be out 6-8 weeks. On April 20, Afflalo announced he would investigate his NBA status (did not sign with an agent) and then proclaimed on June 17 that he was withdrawing his name from the upcoming 2006 NBA Draft to stay at UCLA for his junior season. In 2005-06 he started 38 of 39 games (all but Senior Day) and was UCLA's leading scorer (15.8/No. 7 in the Pac-10), who averaged 33.4 minutes (No. 1 on the team/1,303 minutes, No. 1 on the UCLA single season chart), 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists and shot .462 (203-439) from the field, .366 (83, No. 3 on UCLA single season chart-227, No. 1 on UCLA single season chart) from three-point range and a team-best .806 (129-160) from the foul line.

A co-captain, Afflalo led the team in scoring 18 times and had 11 contests of 20 or more points, including a career-high 27 at Arizona (1/5/06). He scored in double figures in 34 of 39 games. As a sophomore, Afflalo also set career-highs in rebounds (10, at Oregon State, 1/28/06), assists (seven, California, 3/11/06), steals (three, Belmont, 3/16/06) and blocked shots (two, Nevada, 12/10/05).

Considered the Bruins' top defensive performer, Afflalo was a member of the NCAA Oakland Region, Pac-10 Tournament and NIT Season Tip-Off All Tournament teams. Along with his first-team All-Pac-10 honors, he was a CollegeInsider.com Defensive All-American and a fourth-team Scout.com All-American, along with first-team honors from USBWA All-Dist. IX, NABC All-Dist. 15 and a Basketball Times All-West Coast selection. At the Bruins annual end-of-the-season banquet, he shared the Coach John Wooden Award (UCLA's Most Valuable Player) with Farmar.

'Arron had an outstanding sophomore campaign and we expect continued improvement to build upon what he's already accomplished,' said Bruin head coach Ben Howland, entering his fourth season (61-35, including 50-18 the last two seasons) at the Bruin helm and the 2006 Pac-10 Coach of the Year. 'He was our leading scorer last season. He's our best on-ball defensive player, who always draws the other team's top offensive performer from the perimeter. He'll probably have a chance to play some minutes at point guard this year, as well as playing off-guard for us. We're expecting Arron Afflalo to have another big year for the Bruins.'

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - in 2006 was ranked third nationally in rebounding among freshmen. His 8.2 rebound average was No. 3 in the Pac-10 (second in the conference in offensive rebounds, 3.00/fourth in defensive rebounds, 5.15) and a new UCLA freshman record, breaking Don MacLean's mark of 7.5, 1989. He had eight double/doubles (the most in UCLA freshman history) and led the team in rebounding 32 of 39 games, including the first 12 contests of the season.

Starting 38 of 39 games (all but Senior Day), Mbah a Moute averaged 29.5 minutes, 9.1 points (No. 3 on the team/No. 4 freshman scorer in the Pac-10), 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals and shot .538 (134-249, No. 1 in the Pac-10) from the field and .723 (81-112) from the foul line. His season highs included 17 points vs. LSU and Belmont in the NCAA Tournament, 13 rebounds vs. West Virginia (1/21/06) and Albany (11/29/05), six assists vs. Belmont (3/16/06), four steals vs. California (3/2/06) and Drexel (11/25/05) and four blocked shots vs. Coppin State (12/4/05).

Along with his Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honor (becoming the sixth Bruin in history to earn that award - 2005 Jordan Farmar, 2000 Jason Kapono, 1998 Baron Davis, 1989 Don MacLean, 1986 Jerome 'Pooh' Richardson), Mbah a Moute was a CollegeInsider.com Freshman All-American, a second-team Collegehoops.net All-Rookie and a second-team Basketball Times All-Freshman. He also earned All-Conference honors from CBSSportsLine.com and SI.com and was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection.

'Luc had a great freshman season,' said Howland, who also garnered 2006 National Coach of the Year honors from CollegeInsider.com (Jim Phelan Award) and Collegehoops.net. 'He was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and was one of the top freshmen in the nation. I thought he continued to develop throughout the season and played his best basketball of the year in our stretch run through the NCAA Tournament. I'm excited about his future. He has a very complete game and continues to get better.'

Returning Lettermen
In all, the Bruins return seven experienced lettermen - 6-5 sophomore forward Josh Shipp, 6-0 sophomore point guard Darren Collison, 6-8 junior center Lorenzo Mata, 6-8 sophomore center/forward Alfred Aboya, 6-5 sophomore guard/forward Michael Roll, 6-8 sophomore center/forward Ryan Wright, along with sophomore walkon letterman, 6-5 guard DeAndre Robinson. The Bruins will also return 6-2 sophomore walkon guard Joey Ellis, who redshirted in 2004-05 and missed all of 2005-06 with a left knee injury that required surgery.

Josh Shipp - because of a right hip injury (surgery on Sept. 28, 2005), Shipp missed the Bruins' first 11 games, then started UCLA's first four conference contests (the Bruins were 3-1, including a win at Arizona), averaging 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. He then sat out the rest of the season because of continued pain and discomfort in the hip and UCLA petitioned the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver (in all, Shipp missed 35 games). In 2004-05 as a freshman, Shipp was one of the top young players in the league, starting 23 of UCLA's final 24 games, averaging 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds (highest of any Pac-10 freshman) and earning Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Freshman team. His career-bests include 20 points (on two occasions), 12 rebounds (vs. Pepperdine, 12/1104), five assists (vs. Texas Tech, 3/17/05) and four steals (vs. California, 2/17/05).

'Josh Shipp had a highly productive freshman year in 2004-05 and a frustrating sophomore campaign last season with the hip injury,' Howland said. 'He did make a solid contribution in the four games that he started last year, averaging in double figures and rebounding well. The main focus for Josh is to come back 100% healthy this season, which I'm confident he'll do. And if he does that, he'll have a great year. He has a real feel for the game and I think is on track to have an outstanding second full season at UCLA.'

Darren Collison - with the departure of Jordan Farmar, Collison is expected to take over the UCLA starting point guard position. As a true freshman, he gained important experience last season as UCLA's backup point guard. A spark plug off the bench, he appeared in 39 games (two starts), and averaged 19.2 minutes, 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists and shot .784 (40-51) from the foul line. He earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Freshman team. He had season-highs of 15 points vs. Arizona (3/10/06), five rebounds vs. West Virginia (1/21/06), eight assists vs. Stanford (12/29/05) and three steals (on four occasions).

'Darren Collison was another one of our outstanding freshmen who really developed as the year progressed,' said Howland. 'He ended up being one of our best defensive players. He was voted our 'Most Improved Player' during the season. That's significant to me, because being a great player means continuing to improve, to strive to get better each and every day, and Darren did that. He was a significant factor as to why our team did so well last season.'

Lorenzo Mata - although injuries slowed his sophomore campaign (missed two early season games with a concussion/then missed 14 mid-season contests with a non-displaced plateau fracture in the right tibia suffered in the Washington State game in Pauley Pavilion, 1/12/06), he did come back to play in UCLA's final nine games. In all, Mata appeared in 21 games, including eight early to mid-season starts (he started UCLA's first five Pac-10 contests). As a sophomore he averaged 14.0 minutes, 3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, led the team in blocked shots (1.14) and shot .500 (27-54) from the field. His career-high bests include 11 points vs. Wagner (12/21/05), 11 rebounds vs. Pepperdine (12/11/04) and four blocked shots vs. Sacramento State (12/23/05). On June 16, Mata had a right knee arthroscopic procedure (cartilage) and after a 3-4 rehabilitation program, is scheduled to return to normal workout activities. He may also join the Mexican National team this summer for workouts and official games.

'Lorenzo had a tough year with injuries, but still made a solid contribution,' Howland said. 'After breaking his leg early in the conference season, he was there for us down the stretch, from the Pac-10 Tournament through the NCAA Tournament. I expect Lorenzo to have a very good year in his junior campaign.'

Alfred Aboya - overcame two arthroscopic procedures on both knees (right knee July 11, 2005/left knee Oct. 12, 2005/missed first six games), to appear in UCLA's final 33 games (including two starts). Aboya averaged 14.0 minutes, 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds and shot a team-high .640 (48-75) from the field. His season-highs included 15 points and eight rebounds vs. Washington (2/11/06).

'Alfred Aboya was another one of our players who had an injury plagued season,' said Howland. 'But when he was healthy, there were a lot of positives to his game and he contributed to many of our victories. He had an outstanding spring and I think Alfred is poised to have a very good sophomore season. He's an outstanding athlete who plays extremely hard and has a great work ethic and attitude.'

Michael Roll - appearing in 38 (of 39 games), including five starts at forward midway through the season, Roll averaged 14.7 minutes, 3.4 points and 1.0 assists, shooting .383 (36-94, his 36 three-pointers was No. 3 on the team) from three-point range and .714 (5-7) from the foul line. His season-bests were 17 points vs. Washington (1/14/06), five assists vs. Albany (11/29/05) and two steals vs. Washington (2/11/06).

'Michael is another true freshman from last season who received a lot of significant playing time,' Howland said. 'He was one of the best shooters in the Pac-10 as a freshman, connecting on 36, three-pointers overall and in league games only, he shot nearly 46% from three-point range. Michael had a very good freshman season and I know he'll have an outstanding off-season in preparation to come back even bigger, stronger and better for his sophomore campaign.'

Ryan Wright - played in 30 games, including four starts at center. He averaged 9.8 minutes, 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds, and shot .566 (27-47, No. 3 on the team) from the field. His season-bests included eight points (on three occasions) and eight rebounds (at Michigan, 12/17/05). Over the summer, Wright will tryout for a roster position on the Canadian National team.

'Ryan Wright played significant minutes for us last season and gained a lot of positive playing experience,' said Howland. 'For a young player, coming from out of the U. S. to a high-major Div. I program, I thought Ryan made significant strides and I'm expecting him to have a good sophomore season.'

Three incoming freshmen will be added to the Bruin roster - 6-8 McDonald's All-American forward James Keefe and 6-3 guard Russell Westbrook, along with 6-2 walkon guard Sean Mustafa Abdul-Hamid (St. Louis, MO/Country Day HS). Keefe signed his National Letter of Intent last November and Westbrook signed his NLI on April 21.

James Keefe - last season as a senior was a McDonald's All-American (the 26th McDonald's All-American to attend UCLA) and a second-team Parade Magazine All-American. In the McDonald's All-American game (March 29 in San Diego), Keefe helped the West defeat the East, 112-94, contributing five points, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 14 minutes of play. He was the fourth-highest vote-getter on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West team, an Orange County Register All-County performer and a three-time All-CIF player. His teams won CIF titles as a sophomore and junior and lost in the CIF final and Southern Regional as a senior. In 2006, Keefe averaged 19.0 points and 11.5 rebounds, along with nearly 3.0 assists a game. He saved his best games for the playoffs - he scored 25 points, with 20 rebounds, when the Eagles defeated Gahr (of Cerritos) in the CIF-SS Div. III-AA quarterfinals and he had 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win over La Canada in the III-AA semifinals. As a junior in 2005, he averaged 17.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots, earning second-team Parade Magazine All-American and State Junior Player of the Year honors.

'James plays hard, is an outstanding rebounder, a good defender and plays very intelligently,' Howland said. 'His attitude and work-ethic are going to help him improve and get better and better year-in and year-out.'

Russell Westbrook - was a third-team Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West selection, third-team All-State, a first-team All-CIF Div. 1 performer and two-time Most Valuable Player of the Bay League. Scout.com rates him as the No. 2 shooting guard in the West and one of the Top 25 shooting guards in the U. S. As a senior, Westbrook led the Olympians to a 25-4 overall record and advancement to the quarterfinals of the CIF Div. IAA. In 2006, he averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.3 assists. He connected on 57 three-pointers and shot .760 from the foul line. He had 14 double-doubles, scored 30 or more points on eight occasions and had a career-high 51 points at Carson on Jan. 6.

'Russell is an outstanding basketball player with a proven offensive game,' said Howland. 'I think he's going to be able to come in and compete and help us win basketball games immediately.'

Losses From 2005-06
Missing will be 6-2 junior starting point guard Jordan Farmar and four seniors, including two additional starters - 6-6 forward Cedric Bozeman and 7-0 ½ center Ryan Hollins, and two lettermen - 7-0 center Michael Fey and 6-3 guard Janou Rubin. Also not returning will be UCLA's two freshmen walkon guards from 2005-06, Kelvin Kim and Nican Robinson.

Jordan Farmar - on April 20, Farmar announced that he was going to test his NBA status (did not sign with an agent) and on June 18 (final day for players to withdraw from the upcoming 2006 NBA Draft), he said he was going to keep his name in the Draft process (sign with an agent) and not return to UCLA for his junior campaign. On June 28, Farmar was a first-round NBA selection by the Los Angeles Lakers (26th pick). One of the top point guards in the college game, Farmar as a sophomore last season was one of just four players and the only underclassman, who was a candidate for three honors - Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and the Bob Cousy Award, as the nation's top point guard. In UCLA's stretch drive to the NCAA Championship game, Farmar was an All-Tournament selection at the Pac-10 Tournament, NCAA Oakland Regional and NCAA Final Four. Along with his first-team All-Pac-10 honor, Farmar was a CollegeInsider.com All-American (and Pac-10 Most Valuable Player) and a first-team USBWA All-Dist. IX and NABC All-Dist. 15. In 2006, he started 37 of 39 games (missed two contests with a sprained right ankle) and averaged 30.4 minutes (No. 2 on the team), 13.5 points (No. 2/No. 14 in Pac-10), 5.1 assists (No. 1 in the Pac-10), 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Farmar led the team in assists in 30 of his 37 starts (including a career-best 12 assists vs. Washington, 1/14/06), led the team in scoring on 13 occasions and scored in double figures 26 times, including a career-high 28 points vs. Memphis (11/23/05). As a freshman in 2004-05, Farmar was the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Year and just the fifth Bruin to earn Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. He led all Pac-10 freshmen in minutes (34.3), scoring (13.2), assists (5.28) and FT% (.801, 109-136) and was second in steals (1.4). As a senior at Taft HS in 2003-04, he led the school to its first City title and was a McDonald's All-American.

'Jordan had a very good career at UCLA,' said Howland. 'He was one of the significant reasons why the program is now back on track. We appreciate all his hard work and diligence that greatly contributed to our successes the last two seasons. Jordan Farmar has been a winner at the high school and collegiate levels, and he will be a winner at the professional level, too. We're very happy for him and his future in the NBA.'

Cedric Bozeman - this fifth-year Bruin overcame injuries and setbacks throughout his UCLA career to become the captain and senior leader on the 2005-06 squad. Although Bozeman missed eight games in the middle of the season with a left shoulder injury, he started the first 11 games, then came back to start 19 of the final 20. With Bozeman in the lineup last season, UCLA was 27-4 overall and with him as a starter, the Bruins were 26-4. He played every position (but center), averaged 27.4 minutes, 7.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists, and shot .500 (84-168) from the field, a team-leading .393 (22-56) from three-point range and .776 (45-58) from the foul line. As a senior, Bozeman was nominated for the Chip Hilton Award (honoring a graduating senior who demonstrates personal character on and off the court) and the V Foundation Comeback of the Year Award. He missed all of 2004-05 with a right knee injury (that required surgery). During his first three seasons (2001-04), he was UCLA's starting point guard. He led the Pac-10 in assists in 2004 (5.54 a game) and his 386 career assists are No. 10 on the all-time Bruin chart.

'I really happy for Ced the way he ended his UCLA career,' Howland said. 'He had an outstanding senior year. Ced was one of the main driving forces in our Final Four run. He really did a great job overall during his five years as a Bruin - as a student, as a person, and obviously, as an outstanding player.'

Ryan Hollins - on June 28, Hollins was a second round NBA selection by the Charlotte Bobcats (50th pick). His strong post play in 2006 greatly contributed to UCLA's run to the NCAA Championship game. Although he missed six midseason games with a groin injury, he came back to play in the final 23 contests, starting 19 of the final 20 games. Hollins played extremely well in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, averaging 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots and shooting .719 (23-32) from the floor. He was named the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Oakland Regional. For the season, he averaged 21.5 minutes, 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds and shot .619 (83-154) from the field. A talented athlete, he was a jumper on the Bruin track & field team as a freshman and was a member of the 2003 USA World Team men's basketball squad. His 101 career blocked shots is No. 4 on the all-time Bruin chart.

'Ryan finished his senior year in blazing fashion,' said Howland. 'He was named the MOP of the NCAA Oakland Regional and just played a highly productive last 10 games of the season for us. Ryan was another senior leader who helped the Bruins last year to an outstanding finish.'

Michael Fey - Fey's senior campaign was disrupted by injury, missing 16 games. Before 2005-06 even started, he was sidelined with a severe groin injury, then once the season was underway, his injuries included a sprained left shoulder and a severe right ankle sprain. Fey did appear in 18 games (two starts) and averaged 6.3 minutes, 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds. As a junior in 2004-05, Fey helped lead the Bruins back to the NCAA Tournament, starting 27 of 29 games, scoring in double figures 11 times (career-highs in points/23 and rebounds/11), shooting a team-high .546 (101-185) from the field and registering his first two career double/doubles.

'Michael had a tough senior season with all his injuries,' Howland said. 'But through it all, he kept a great attitude and always was trying to help his team and his teammates. As a junior, Michael had a productive year for us as our starting center and helping the Bruins get back to the NCAA Tournament. I do think Michael will get the opportunity to play professionally. I'm hoping he gets that opportunity because he deserves it.'

Janou Rubin - another senior whose career was interrupted by injury, Rubin on Nov. 14 was granted a sixth-year of eligibility. In 2005-06, he appeared in 18 games, averaging 3.6 minutes. A former walkon, Rubin's best season was in 2003-04, when he appeared in a career-high 27 games, averaging a career-best 14.8 minutes, 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for his efforts off the bench in UCLA's 2004 conference opening home wins over Oregon State and Oregon (getting a career-high 13 points in both games).

'Janou made significant contributions to our team last season as a senior,' said Howland. 'If it were not for Janou Rubin, with all the injuries we sustained, we would have had a much more difficult time reaching our level of success. He worked hard everyday, in every practice and really contributed to the team's success.'

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