Arron is going to have his big press conference later on this week announcing his plans around the NBA (draft). We already know Jordan is seriously thinking about the NBA and according to some sources perhaps leaning towards going pro. Ever since the AA news came out last Friday, the Bruin message boards have been on a meltdown mode. But I gotta tell you I am not really all that worried.
First of all whatever happens - IMHO we should be supportive of what Jordan or AA do. Their situations are a little different from the one Baron Davis encountered few years ago when BD took the advantage of his freakish naturally gifted talents and entered the draft to get away the nightmare that was Steve Lavin. The situations around JF and AA are a little different. I am going to presume for now (still have to see how their formal announcements pan out - AA this week and Jordan's whenever it comes out) they will not be hiring agents and they are just going to be participating in the NBA pre-draft camp figuring out where they may fall in the NBA draft in a year which has barred entries out of high school and is not too rich in terms of graduating college talent. Barring a ridiculously awesome performance in the NBA draft came - they could both project themselves in the first round and decide to leave Westwood. I have no problem with that. If they play themselves into the first round of the NBA draft and get themselves in the position to earn millions - then hell yes - they should go. And they would serve as great examples of how Howland has truly reestablished UCLA, turning it into a NBA factory in three years. That would be a great signal for all the other great talents who are seriously considering UCLA (helloo Mr. Love and Mr. Singler).
On the other hand if Jordan and Arron participate in the NBA draft camp and determine they would be better off playing one more year of UCLA ball, then we are looking mighty good for next season and bonus points will be Jordan and Arron staying sharp during the off-season participating in the NBA boot camps. I believe (and correct me folks if I am wrong) they are going to have till June 18th (which is 10 days before the draft) to formally announce whether or not to go pro. Again, that is assuming neither of them have signed up with an agent. If they decide to sign with an agents then they will be pretty much gone. I am betting they won't and partake in the draft camp so that they will have the option to come back to Westwood. So this drama is going to be in play for a while (till June) and that is why I think it is really not worth it to get all worked up over it now.
Also as mentioned its not like Howland and his staff are preparing their contingency plans. They have already offered Russell Westbrook, a combo-guard (6'3 175) from Lawndale, Calif., Leuzinger. The dude is no slouch averaging 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 2,5 steals per game, has offers from the good D-1 schools like Wake Forest, Creighton, Miami, Arizona State, San Diego, and Kent State. In other words he is no Ryan Walcott and get this he digs UCLA. From BruinBlitz via Yahoo:
"Besides a good academic environment, playing time is very important to me. Then, the next component would be the coaching style, and the players and coaches themselves as people. I am trying to get a feel for how I fit into each program I have visited."
Was he watching the Bruins in that national title game?
"You better believe it," Westbrook said. "I was rooting for them."
How does Westbrook envision his role with the Bruins should he opt to come to UCLA?
"I hopefully can add shooting, rebounding, and getting to the line."
In today's all-star game, Westbrook showed great court vision and awareness, displaying poise and unselfishness while consistently finding the open man.
Westbrook also showed exactly why he is one of the top scoring threats in the Los Angeles area, employing myriad slashing maneuvers to the basket, and repeatedly cashing in on second chance opportunities.
So as of right now here are the two extreme scenarios:
The worst case: Both Jordan and AA decide to go pro. Westbrook ends up somewhere else and Spica doesn't qualify. Now I just don't believe this scenario will come into fruition. But even if it does with DC, Shipp, Roll, and Abdul Hamid (he's gotta be better than Walcott or Rubin) in the backcourt, and Luc, AA, Mata, Keefe, and Wright on the front, we will still likely be a scrapping top-25 team and a legit. threat to win the Pac-10.
The best case: Borth Jordan and AA decide to come back for one more year. Westbrook signs with UCLA, and then we have the potential to run the table in 06-07 and bring home banner no. 12.
Now my gut feeling tells me neither of these two scenarios will play out and we are going to be in a scenario somewhere in the middle. Either Jordan or Arron will go pro, Westbrook/Spica (either one or both) will probably end up coming in with Keefe, and we are going to be left with a top notch basketball program which may be favorite to win the Pac-10 and find itself in position to make another interesting run in the Big Dance.
So sit back, relax, enjoy ... and wish Arron and Jordan best of luck:
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
These two kids have given us everything they have over the last two years and you cannot fault them for chasing their NBA dreams. Of course we want them to come back and and to put on those blue and gold uniforms, giving us more of those moments next season. However, for now just for good karma all of us from here BN should wish them nothing but good luck.
Remember it is all going to work out with the best damn coach in the country in control over the greatest program of college basketball.