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Preparing For A Nuclear Scenario

Before you read this post, let me warn you right here: this post will not be for the faint of heart. I think given the uncertainty we are facing in next few weeks in terms of who is going to stay or who is going to leave, it might make sense to mentally get ready for the worst case scenario now. That way no matter what happens we can figure out now what’s the worst case scenario for the prospects of our hoops team next season.

So with that in mind let’s be cognizant of couple of dates.

  • April 27: Players have until April 27 to declare whether or not they will enter the draft. Some may decide to hire an agent. If they do that they will not be able to return to the college game. However, some may decide to "test the NBA waters" just like AA did after his sophomore season. In this case, the player will be able to work out for the NBA teams and get feedback on their draft stock. And in case depending on what they hear they will have to make a decision on whether or not to keep themselves in the draft. That takes me the second date:

  • June 16: That’s the date by which players who haven’t signed an agent will have to decide whether or not to stay in the draft.
So anyway you cut it, we will have some anxious weeks ahead of us in terms of playing the waiting game on figuring out who is going to stay and who is going to leave.

Well, I am not sure if I really want to play the waiting game. I rather figure out now what’s the worst case scenario we are looking at and in that case how we should approach/look forward to the 6th season under Coach Howland at UCLA.

With that in the mind I see the following players as gone:

KL: I understand right now there are some doubts in certain NBA scout circle about KL being a lottery pick. However, my gut tells me that KL is gone as long as gets the feedback of him being drafted high in the first round. I am going to speculate that KL will announce for the NBA draft by April 27, perform well, and not return to UCLA for his second season.

DC: Again see what I wrote above re. KL. Even though DC’s stock might have gone down due to his performances against Memphis and WKU, I still think he is going to declare for the draft and keep his name in it. I don’t see DC coming back for his senior season at UCLA.

RW: Yes, I get the point that RW still needs another year of seasoning in college game as a pure point guard. However, if a kid gets a guarantee from any NBA team that he is going to be drafted in the first round, it is hard to fault him for going pro. And I am not going to be one of those fans who is going to put his or her selfish reasons above what is most important to that kid’s self interest as determined by himself and those around him. So, with that in mind, right now I am resigned to concede RW not returning for his junior season at UCLA.

Now that the big 3 is out of the way, I am going to go ahead and take another step in terms of assuming the worst:

JS: I can see how it could be emotionally difficult for JS to return for his 5th season at UCLA, as most of his friends from last four years will be gone. I am not sure JS is even worthy of a second round pick in the NBA, but he could potentially explore a pro career in Europe (just like his older brother who went to Cal). So let’s stay JS is gone.

LRMAM & AA2: According to Diane Pucin in the LA Times, LRMAM on Saturday said:
"I want to be back and win a title."
Honestly, I am not going to take that as a sure fire sign of LRMAM returning consider what AA said following the Florida game last year:
"I have a lot of respect for my teammates, the coaching staff, the university that's done a lot for me," Afflalo said. "Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for some good things. Coming back next year is something I have to think about. But my sole purpose in coming to UCLA was to win a national championship. I'm still intent on doing that."
Well we know the rest of the story. I think chances are there that LRMAM may come back. But as I said at the very beginning, this post is about assuming the worst. So I am going to go ahead and speculate that LRMAM will not be coming back next season. And his departure, will also lead AA2 leave UCLA since he will be finishing up his degree this June. BTW the idea that AA2 could leave should not be a surprise. The issue first surfaced back in Jan when it was reported that he was on track to graduate early.

Hey, are you still with me? Let’s make the situation even more dire. What if Dragovic decides it’s lot more fun jacking up shots in the Euro Leagues back home instead of learning to play defense and fundamentals of the game from Coach Howland.

So how will the rotation look without all of those guys mentioned above? Well here is my attempt:
1 2 3 4 5
Holiday Roll Stanback Gordon Keefe
Anderson Lee

Again obviously this the nuclear scenario I am envisioning at this case. But honestly, even if the nuclear scenario were to take place, do you think actually think it would be all over and that this team will not compete? Hardly.

First, even if this scenario took place, I would be Coach Howland and his staff would figure out a way to bring in more players to add to the 4 person 2008 class. Right now the other prospects who are on UCLA’s board are: Ater Majok, Krys Faber, and Jeff Taylor. I think it’s a good bet that Coach Howland and his staff will be amping up their recruiting efforts in the coming days to intensify their efforts to pursue any of the aforementioned recruits or others who haven't popped up in our recruiting radar. Don’t forget how they were able to land RW two years ago, just days after JF had decided to go pro.

Now that I have typed out the nuclear scenario, let me just say even if this were to take place, I would be more than excited about the upcoming hoops season. I would be just as excited about next year like when I was counting the days for JF, AA, JS and LMR to get started on the campus. Even in this scenario, I will get just as much joy as following our program, because it will be another opportunity to watch Coach Howland mold talented young man into well grounded basketball players, who will give everything they have to make the four letters in front of their jersey proud. It will be a new core, gelling with a whole new chemistry. And I think that’s a strong enough core that will win at least 20 something games, and get better as the season goes along, and will set up the foundation of yet another set of contending teams in the following years.

Again, as I have said repeatedly in this post already, this is the worst case scenario. It could very well be that LRMAM will decide to come back for another season as well as JS & AA2. And if they do our prospects will be even better.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure I get the worst case scenario out in the open … so if it were to actually happen we are all ready for it. I personally am not going to engage in any kind of campaign pleading KL, DC, RW or others to stay. As I have said before if those kids want to go, then I will be supportive of them and wish them luck. And we are not going to allow any kind of attacks on those kids who have given everything they have in their time at UCLA to make all of us proud on and off the court.

From the way I see it here, even if the worst case scenario were to take place, Coach Howland has such a strong foundation in place, that we will have enough talent to fight, scratch, and claw our way into another exciting season with bunch of youngsters who just like Coach Howland’s first class at UCLA, will build the foundation of yet another series of contenders in the coming seasons.

As an alum, I couldn’t ask for more in today’s world of college basketball from Coach Howland. So what ever happens by June 16, I am ready for it.