Roundup On Our New Warriors

T posted on this last night. But given the stories in today’s papers, thought this topic was worth writing about again. I actually really enjoyed reading Pucin’s story this morning in the LAT. It was great to hear the thoughts from the latest Ben Ball warriors themselves on why they committed to playing for the best basketball coach in America:

Holiday said he chose UCLA because the Bruins have shown they can develop NBA players.

"Coach Howland made it to the Final Four two years in a row," Holiday said. "That's hard to come by. Arron Afflalo is in the league now. Jordan Farmar. I know he can make NBA players and that's what I'm trying to do. He thinks I can be one."

Lee said he planned to model himself after Golden State Warriors guard Baron Davis, another former Bruins' star, and added that he was won over by Howland's ability to teach defense.

"If I want to play at another level," Lee said, "defense is a must."

Gordon said he was sold on UCLA because Howland did not sweet talk him. "Coach Howland is a businessman," Gordon said. "He just tells it like it is; nothing fake."

Gordon said he was also influenced by Love who, after three games, leads UCLA in scoring (20.7) and rebounding (10.3). As to whether Gordon gets a chance to play with Love, Gordon said, "I've been talking to him about coming back, trying to convince him. I don't think it's working, though."

Anderson said he enjoyed watching Farmar and Collison develop a wide view of the game as point guards. "Coach Howland puts a lot of trust in his point guard and I really think I will learn the best way to play the game," he said.
Some day we will hear similar comments from future UCLA football recruits, who will be saying things like, "Coach ******** made it to the Rose Bowl two years in a row. That’s hard to come by." You know what I am saying.

Anyway, the OC Register also has a story on yesterday’s signings. Quickhands has already diaried up Coach Howland’s comments on his latest warriors. And, Bruin Basketball Report has full coverage on Howland’s remarks that concluded with this:
On whether the team has finished signing recruits from the 2008 class, Howland said, "We have four signed, but never say never. But unless a real great player comes along, I would say yes, this class is complete."

When asked to compare this recruiting class with his previous ones at UCLA, Howland said. "I've been pretty pleased with our past classes. Ultimately, the classes are judged once they get here and how they perform when they're here. But definitely when you look on paper, I'm very confident all four of these guys are going to be great players and will contribute immediately."
With Coach Howland in charge we have no doubt about that. The only thing that didn’t go our way in this year’s class was the recruiting of J'Mison Morgan, a 6-10 center from Dallas, who made a rather "interesting" pick in selecting LSU. Pucin posted some good takes from couple of scouts – Hicks (who I have immense respect for) and Telep – on that issue:
[D]espite the Bruins' success at home and, in the case of Oregon's Love, around home, it's still a challenge for Howland to pick off a top player from Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference or Big East Conference territory, said Greg Hicks, a West Coast talent evaluator for Scout.com.

Because of demanding academic standards and Howland's no-nonsense sales pitches, Hicks said, "UCLA has to be really smart and find the special kids who understand what UCLA can offer."

Or, it just may take a little more time. "Kids have been staying closer to home in recent years," Scout.com's Dave Telep said. "I think the country can open up to UCLA. . . . I know UCLA is actively recruiting out east in 2009."
I think Hicks is on the money. We will get kids who are fit for UCLA. In other words you will never see Coach Howland prostituting himself out to sign any street thugs coming out of diploma mills. And the recruits who are considering and committing to UCLA, are coming in here with full understanding of what will be expected of them as Bruins not only on the court (as in commitment to fundamentals, defense, and "team" game) but in the class room as well. And its just a matter of time we will snag more recruits in the caliber of the ones we have gotten under Howland to date.

Besides, Coach Howland has a direct pipeline to a recruiting hotbed, where he can get big bad Bruins who grew up eating snakes.

GO BRUINS.
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