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Ben Ball News & Notes: Incoming Warriors

Well that Riles is a lucky dude (What an amazing thread that was BTW. Folks if you have stories like that you want to share please post them in the diaries or email us whenever you want). He gets to come into UCLA at a time Coach Howland will be rolling out yet another sensational freshman class at Pauley. Luke Winn from posted on incoming Ben Ball warriors, who are already preparing to continue the tradition of BRUIN DEFNSE:

It was a rare sight, at least for a scrimmage affiliated with a shoe company's high-school All-Star game: Amid all the cherry-picked dunks and carelessly thrown passes in a nearly empty gym at Long Island University-Brooklyn, there were a couple of perimeter players assuming defensive stances and making a real effort to guard the ball. This workout took place the day before last week's Jordan Brand Classic, with no NBA scouts or college coaches present; the lone dignitary in the room was soon-to-be Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, a deeply slouched spectator at the end of one bench. Score was kept, but the result was meaningless. And while what Malcolm Lee and Jrue Holiday were doing on the court -- defending -- was hardly worthy of a medal, it was a strong indication that next season, they will fit right in at UCLA.

Their future coach, the defense-obsessed Ben Howland, was still on the West Coast last Friday, having participated in press conferences for Bruins freshman Kevin Love and sophomore Russell Westbrook the previous afternoon. Both players declared early for the NBA draft, but Westbrook did not hire an agent. In a press release, junior Luc Richard Mbah a Moute announced he was following the same route as Westbrook. Junior point guard Darren Collison is taking his draft decision up to the April 27 deadline, but is expected to declare. There is also talk that junior forward Alfred Aboya might not return, either to come to the aid of his ailing father in Cameroon, or pursue graduate school. Add to that the graduation of forward Lorenzo Mata-Real, and UCLA has the potential to lose six of the top seven players from its 2007-08 Final Four rotation. Which makes it all the more important that Howland has perhaps the nation's best recruiting class -- including Jordan Classic participants Holiday (Rivals' No. 1 point guard), Lee (No. 9 shooting guard), and Drew Gordon (No. 16 power forward) as well as Jerime Anderson (No. 7 point guard) -- showing up on campus in the summer.

Howland, when reached by phone, was pleased to hear of Holiday and Lee's willingness to play D. It was, he said, as if they were getting a head-start on Bruin-ball. "If they're able to come in and play good defense," Howland said, "it increases their possibility of being significant players right away -- which they're probably going to have to be."

The best-case scenario for UCLA would be that one of its two current backcourt stars, Westbrook or Collison, returns to mentor the rookies, and Mbah a Moute comes back to anchor the frontcourt. A starting lineup of Westbrook and Holiday at guard, Josh Shipp and Mbah a Moute at forward, and either James Keefe or Gordon in the low-post might be good enough to get the Bruins to their fourth straight Final Four.

Make sure to read that entire piece. It’s excellent.

As we have said last few weeks we will wait to see how this NBA Draft/off season plays out. We still don’t know who is going to end up going and staying (except for KL, DC, and probably RW). And it looks like Coach Howland is not done recruiting for this year’s class either.

No I am not talking about J’Mison Morgan, who decided to stay with LSU. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone here.

However, keep an eye Ater Majok, 6-9, 215 Sudanese/Aussie PF, who is one of the best PF prospect in the country. According to Dohn Majok is in Storrs, CT this weekend taking a trip at official. He can take one more official trip and it could end up in Westwood:

"After the visit here, we will sit down and talk and decide what to do, and if Ater takes one more visit,'' Smith said. "If the Connecticut visit didn't meet expectations, or if Ater did not feel perfect about it, we could visit UCLA on our way back."
Smith said he will remain in Rhode Island during the weekend before the duo travel back to Australia. Majok, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound center from the American International School, already visited Baylor, Maryland and Kentucky.
"We haven't been in contact with Kansas," Smith said. "(UCLA assistant) Scott Duncan made a push, so he would be in line for the fifth visit."

Storrs v Westwood. LOL. That shouldn’t be a contest. But we will see.

Also keep an eye on what Alex Stepheson does after he finishes up his spring Semester in Chapell Hill.

Anyway, we will see how these stories play out in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, I am not all that worried about next season given the recruiting class that is already in place for next season. One way or other we are going to be all right.