Let's start this Friday before a long weekend with a little note on track and field. Well it has more to do with football but nevertheless it will get the track and field fans on BN excited.
Looks like Randall Carrol and Damien Thigpen are not the only speedsters from this year's incoming freshman class. Bishop Amat cornerback Sheldon Price, who is set to become a third generation Bruin, recently burned up the track field by "blowing away the competition" at CIF's track prelims. He was first in the 100 and third in the 200 (21.60). With athletes like Carroll, Thigpen, Price, I would have to think our special teams might look a little different next season.
Speaking of new Bruins, WWL likes Coach Howland's incoming set of Ben Ball warriors. Joel Francisco recently graded the Pac-10 programs' incoming basketball classes. UCLA was the only program getting an A- in Joel's grading curve. Here are the toplines from Joel:
As the recruiting scramble comes to a close, it appears that UCLA will haul in the most impressive group of prospects for the 2009-10 season. However, with the early departure of Jrue Holiday to the NBA, a point guard would have been a nice finishing touch. The Bruins class isn't blessed with a one-and-done type, but there's a plethora of versatile prospects -- 6-8 Tyler Honeycutt (Sylmar, Calif.) and 6-9 Brendan Lane (Rocklin, Calif.) come immediately to mind -- that have the potential to develop into all-conference types before they leave Westwood.
Well given the charade that is currently going on with Holiday, I am kind of relieved that none of these kids are coming in with that kind of hype. More from Joel:
After signing the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation last season, the Bruins are picking up where they left off. It's an outstanding class chock full of 3s and 4s who exhibit a bevy of versatility. Unfortunately, they lost Jrue Holiday early to the NBA and Darren Collison exhausted his eligibility, and now the point guard position is in the hands of an inexperienced duo of Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee. Entering his sixth season in Westwood, Howland has secured another impressive class with three ESPNU 100 recruits in 6-8 Tyler Honeycutt (Sylmar, Calif.), 6-7 Mike Moser (Portland, Ore./Grant) and 6-8 Brendan Lane (Rocklin, Calif.). In addition, the Bruins also signed a couple of the top sleepers in 6-9 Anthony Stover (Los Angeles/Windward) and 6-6 Reeves Nelson (Modesto, Calif./Modesto Christian). Honeycutt may have the most upside of any prospect entering the Pac-10 next season. He possesses that prototypical wing-type frame and has the skills to match. He has a feathery shooting touch, is a terrific passer, and is one of the best shot blockers in the country. Nelson is the prototypical Ben Howland player. He is a physical specimen with some intriguing skills and definite toughness. He is at his best when attacking the offensive glass and locking up opponents. However, it will be interesting to see where Howland plays him because he's an undersized 4-man that struggles scoring outside of 10 feet. Moser, like Nelson, is a non-shooter at this stage of his career, but due to his length, bounce and quickness, he could play either forward position and possibly guard a 2 at the next level. On the other hand, Lane is a finesse 4-man with plenty of offensive tools, including a soft shooting touch out to the stripe. He needs to get tougher and become a much better rebounder, but there are not too many prospects at this size that can stroke it like him. Finally, the Bruins added a sleeper with an immense amount of upside. Stover has progressed throughout his high school career, but he has a ways to go if he is going to contribute for Howland. His strength is his innate shot blocking ability, but he needs to get considerably stronger as well as tougher at both ends of the floor to make the Bruins' rotation.
Given our depth issues in the backcourt, I will not be surprised if we see MM getting some mins at the 2 spot. I am sure we are going to chat more about next year's rotation (we we have had great discussions on this topic already but it never hurts to talk more Ben Ball) once our roster is set.
Speaking of Ben Ball warriors, JS has signed with an agent:
Former UCLA wing Josh Shipp signed with the Wassernman Media Group. Shipp has already worked out for Houston and Oklahoma City, and he has a few other workouts scheduled next week.
Good to luck to JS. I think it's going to be a tough climb for him on draft night. However, I will say this. Whatever team signs up will be lucky to get a kid who does everything a coach asks of him. I say that as someone who has had lot of those "what are you doing Josh?!!" moments over the years. JS due to his injuries (two surgeries) was not quit the same versatile athlete in his later years as he was in his freshman season. However, he always played hard and did everything Coach Howland asked him to do. I am going to be rooting hard for him.
BTW as I talk about a Ben Ball warrior doing everything a coach asks of him, it reminds me of this quote from RW after a Howland decision in 2008 to put him back on the bench for a huge game in Stanford in order to insert AA2 in the lineup:
Westbrook didn’t seem to mind the switch, and responded with 15 points, six assists and no turnovers.
“Whatever coach needed me to do I was going to do,” he said. “I did it last year too, so I know I just have to come out the same way, come out with intensity and help the team win.”
Just one of the reasons we celebrated him from start to finish in his brilliant career as a Ben Ball warrior.
So I will end the round up with a heads up on draft night. On NBA draft night we will have an open thread. We will have it to celebrate and to root on Ben Ball warriors who have shown their commitment and loyalty to the magical four letters. I know I am not going to care much for players who came here to treat this school as NBA talent development factory and are eager to move on without any hint of emotional attachment to this school, its community and the alumni/student base who cherish it.
We will root for the kids who relished their time of playing basketball under Howland at UCLA. We willr oot for the kids who we know will stay involved with the UCLA community (ala JF, AA, KL) pimping our school and our program every chance they get. We are going to be celebrating DC, JS, and PAA.
We will be rooting for Bruins.