The LA Times staff writers wrote up an article entitled, "New stars are on the horizon," which basically provides a handy list on athletes with local connections we should all be on the look out for in 2009. Three Bruins made the list. They are:
Gerrit Cole of UCLA was drafted 28th overall by the New York Yankees in June out of Orange Lutheran High but became one of the few high school players in recent years to turn down a bonus offer and enroll in college instead. He's a right-handed freshman pitcher with a 97-mph fastball.
As fast as Russell Westbrook developed at UCLA, going from lightly recruited prep prospect to No. 4 pick in the draft in two seasons, he may be doing it again in the NBA. The 2008 draft class has already seen surprises such as O.J. Mayo's rapid rise to stardom, but Westbrook is just starting to happen. After showing he wasn't intimidated -- he averaged 11 shots in his first 16 games while making 32% -- the 20-year-old Westbrook showed he wasn't overmatched, improving to 45% in the next 11 while becoming the starting point guard for Oklahoma City. He may not have been ready, as everyone in Westwood said last spring, but if he ever is, the rest of the NBA is in trouble.
And Kevin Prince:
[W]atch Kevin Prince, UCLA quarterback. It's not often that a redshirt freshman has a chance to unseat a player who set a school record. But when that record was quarterback Kevin Craft's 20 interceptions during UCLA's 4-8 season, the Bruins need to seek other options. Prince is expected to get a long look during spring practice. He impressed Bruins coaches with his strong arm and dedication. Prince almost always stayed after practice putting in extra work. The downside is that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Prince has not played in two years. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener as a senior at Encino Crespi High.
RW is not a surprise. It's a matter of time he explodes in the League. As for the others can't wait to read about and watch Cole and Prince next year.