Ben Howland met with the beat writers in his season closing press conference yesterday in Westwood. He touched on a number of topics. You can read the write-ups in ESPNLA, the LA Daily News, and the LA Times. There were two important pieces of information that are worth highlighting on BN.
We had suggested that Howland be aggressive in publicly communicating to his players thinking about the risks associated with prematurely jumping into NBA draft. It appears that Howland is listening as he publicly expressed concern about the upcoming NBA lockout:
The potential of an NBA lockout and a lengthy work stoppage next season is also a part of the conversation Howland must have this year. Labor strife, similar to that going on in the NFL right now, is lingering over the league and the draft.
"I have enough contacts and friends in the NBA; This is going to happen," Howland said. "I can't speak for what's going to happen in the NFL, but I can tell you the NBA, in my opinion, there is going to be a serious lockout. They're all preparing for it. They will not be playing, in my opinion, next December, maybe even January."
And that makes it even more important for players to make the right decision about leaving school for a potential pro career.
"If you are a guy who is in the 20-30 or late first round/early second round, definitely you want to improve yourself because you're not even going to get paid next year for half the year."
It is good to hear Howland making his concern so public. Guys like Tyler Honeycutt need to read that from all directions just so they are not getting eschewed recommendations, from folks who might be more interested in his immediate earning potential than his long term career.
There was also important news concerning UCLA's most important recruit for this upcoming season.
The LA Times reported that Lee underwent surgery on Tuesday:
During an hour-long procedure at the UCLA Medical Plaza, orthopedic surgeon David McAllister removed a two-millimeter piece of cartilage that was floating in Lee's knee and repaired a tear that accounted for about 2% of the meniscal cartilage in his knee.
Howland said Lee's recovery time was from one to two months, meaning the shooting guard might not be at full strength if he decided to showcase his skills for NBA teams next month.
I will not make any conclusions as to whether Lee will still attempt to "test the waters" until we get official information on how his rehab is progressing. If you are wondering April 24 is the deadline for NBA early entrants to put their name in the draft. June 13 is the cutoff date for the early entrants to withdraw their names from the draft.
Best of luck to Lee. We wish him a speedy and full recovery.
I will do what DC Bruins did all through this past season. I will close with the last note from Coach Howland reiterating a point he has made before:
"If anybody is projected in the lottery, top-15 essentially, then yeah, they'd have my blessing," Howland said. "You always want to go early because there's more of a commitment from a team to you."
Will Honeycutt listen to that? We will find out soon enough.