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Princes of Westwood

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Great article in the Daily Bruin today which is a must read for all Bruin basketball fans around the world. DB has a profile on two special freshmen that has taken Bruins Nation by total storm:

Public address announcers in opponents' arenas are not sure where their first names end and their last names begin.

Even their own coaches aren't sure where Mbah a Moute's nose for rebounding developed, nor do they know what inspires Aboya to play so energetically.

Their impact in only their freshman season has been just as big a surprise.

Mbah a Moute currently leads all freshmen in the NCAA in rebounding with an 8.8 rebounds per game average, and has led the Bruins in rebounding an astounding 21 times.

Aboya was the only freshman to be projected as a starter before the season and most likely would have filled the role if not for offseason arthroscopic procedures on both of his knees.

"That just goes to show you the (basketball) pundits aren't always right," Howland said.

But amid all the uncertainty surrounding Mbah a Moute, 19, and Aboya, 21, there's one thing that seems to be agreed upon.

They don't look like freshmen. They don't act like freshmen. They don't play like freshmen.
They sure don't and Bruin fans right now are going crazy over a player who as we all know by now is a real life "Prince," being one of the sons of a village chief of small village called Yaounde, Cameron. The title couldn't be more perfect for one of the best freshmen in a storied program of college basketball which of course is a royalty in itself:
In this town, the name "Prince" usually refers to that guy with the original dance moves back in the 1980s.

But at UCLA, the royal term has come to define a player who loves the dirty work and relishes that his impact on a game can't be measured by a box score, which has made him into his own celebrity.

Following UCLA's victory over Arizona on Saturday, Mbah a Moute commanded the largest swarm of autograph seekers of any of the Bruins. He spent nearly 15 minutes wearing out his right hand and posing for pictures, all the while with two bags of ice clutched to his knees.
And then we have Aboya, another freshmen who is showing signs of leaving a huge impression before all is said and done in Westwood:
Aboya doesn't need to look into the stands at home games to see students wrapping themselves in the Cameroon flag to remind him.

On the desk in his dorm room, he keeps a few cherished possessions he brought from Yaounde. In his closet hangs his most prized piece of clothing - a yellow homemade shirt, decorated with native flowers. Aboya only wears it on special occasions, such as his first recruiting trip to UCLA and his first team banquet. Game days at Pauley Pavilion don't qualify.

[...]

Some of the traditions he's brought from Cameroon even permeate onto the basketball court. After grabbing a rebound, Aboya commonly screams in his native French "Laissez-le."

"It means leave it for me," Aboya said. "It means that's for me, not for you."

Yet while Aboya surrounds himself with many memories from home, he still longs for the real thing.

He misses his family and his friends, neither of whom he's seen much of or communicated with regularly since he left Cameroon. He remembers the days as a child asking his parents if he could tag along to town hall meetings where they would discuss politics. It's what piqued his interest in international relations, his field of study at UCLA, and what he hopes one day will lead him home with the title of Cameroonian President.
You can't help but fall in love with these kids showing so much pride and respect, and how they are representing those magical four letters in front of their uniform. Don't forget in addition to these two princes we also have DC - who has made an impact, Roll who has filled in quiet capably at 3 at times, and Wright who has shown signs of lot of promise. I cannot recall a time when we had such incredible back to back freshmen classes with so much promise and signs of developing so early in their college careers. And now we are waiting for the arrival of another frosh superstar in James Keefe and drunk in anticipation with the recruiting of Kevin Love and possibly his close buddy Kyle Singler. There is a reason why we are so giddy here on the Nation. It doesn't have to do anything with the expectation that we are going to win the Pac-10 or may make a dark horse run to the Final-4. We are giddy because we see all the tangible signs of a sleeping giant finally waking up after a decade of slumber thanks to hard work of kids like these two princes of Westwood and the coaches, who are helping them turn into blue and gold bleeding men. Good times all around. GO BRUINS.