It's shaping up to be a busy weekend for UCLA athletics with our baseball, softball, and tennis team in action. But we are going to start with the news on the hoops front. Some of you have already posted the news of North Carolina forward Alex Stepheson deciding to transfer out of Chapel Hill. We have been keeping an eye on Stepheson situation for a while. So this is not a surprise. Now the question whether Alex will decide to come to UCLA. Greg Hicks from Bruin Report Online has a great article (non-premium content at the time of this post) on why Alex would be nice fit in Coach Howland’s program :
I think Stepheson would be an excellent fit at UCLA, for a number of reasons.
With the addition of J’Mison Morgan from the 2008 class, UCLA has apparently solved its short-term issues at center. Morgan figures to come in and play a lot of minutes right away next season. But as is the case with any highly ranked big man, there’s always the possibility that you’ll lose him after one or two years. If Stepheson were to join the Bruins, he would sit out next season (Morgan’s freshman year) and then have two more years to play. So if UCLA does lose Morgan after one year, the Bruins would have a redshirt junior in Stepheson ready to step in and play right away.
Stepheson does two things pretty well right now at the high major level. He can rebound and he can defend. Those just happen to be the two most important requirements for a Ben Howland post player. But with a year to redshirt, and work on his low-post skills, Stepheson has the chance to expand his game. He showed signs this year at UNC of making progress as a scoring threat. By the time he gets to his junior and senior year at UCLA, Stepheson could very well turn into a solid low-post scoring option.
Having watched him this year at UNC, I thought Stepheson looked great physically. He’s added good weight and he’s much stronger than he was in high school. While he played limited minutes at UNC, you could see signs that he was becoming more comfortable as a shot-blocker. It’s always difficult when you’re asked to play a couple minutes and then sit – tough to get in a rhythm that way – but I was impressed with the progress Stepheson made from his freshman year. In reality, he probably should’ve redshirted his freshman season, as there weren’t many minutes available with Tyler Hansbrough and Brandon Wright taking the majority of the time. Given his limited opportunities, I thought Stepheson showed real growth in his game. With a year to sit out and work under Ben Howland, I think Stepheson has the potential to really grow as a player.
Note how Greg is sure about Morgan. Considering Greg's excellent track record in terms of his observations on UCLA basketball on BRO, that's a pretty good sign, I'd say. But I will still wait for the official word.
UCLA wasted no time exploring the possibility of landing North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson.
Hours after the former Harvard Westlake star announced Friday that he'll transfer closer to home, UCLA assistant coach Scott Garson left a message inquiring about Stepheson, the 6-foot-9 sophomore's former high school coach said. Stepheson's decision caught Harvard Westlake coach Greg Hilliard by surprise, but he does expect UCLA to be one of the schools the big man considers.
"UCLA is the obvious choice, but he could surprise us all and go to a smaller school," Hilliard said. "He's kept this totally private. His transfer comes as a complete surprise to me, probably because I was against making a change."
Hilliard encouraged Stepheson to remain loyal to North Carolina, but the sophomore cited his father's health as the primary reason for his transfer. Stepheson missed two games in the middle of last season to be with his dad, who was suffering from an undisclosed illness.
More coverage on Alex from the Daily News and the LAT . The LAT comically reports that the "Gap Closers" will show interest in Alex as if a player like Alex's caliber will be interested in being exiled in a joke program run by Timmeh.
I don't think Alex coming to UCLA is a slam dunk. I could see him thinking through this process and figure out what's most important to him, i.e. immediate playing time or methodically developing himself in an elite program. And we know Coach Howland and his staff will not sell him any snake oil and play it straight with him in terms of how they see him contribute into our program in the short term while mapping out his long term interests. So we will have to stay tuned in the coming weeks and see how this story plays out. As always we trust in Coach Howland.
Junior Amanda Kamekona belted a pair of home runs, while senior Krista Colburn added another bomb, as the Bruins powered their way to an 8-3 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the Los Angeles Regional opener on Friday at Easton Stadium.
The Bruins, seeded second overall in the NCAA Tournament, improve to 46-7 on the season and face Nevada on Saturday at 3 p.m. Nevada moved on to the winners bracket with a 4-1 win over Purdue in the first game of the day. Cal State Fullerton falls to 27-27-1 and will face Purdue in the second game on Saturday to begin 30 minutes after the UCLA-Nevada tilt.
Senior Anjelica Selden improved to 25-3 on the season, striking out eight and allowing three runs (one earned), three hits and two walks in six innings. Sophomore Megan Langenfeld tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning to clinch the victory.
Kamekona was one of four Bruins to record two hits, as UCLA had 10 as a team. Senior Ashley Herrera and freshmen Samantha Camuso and Katie Schroeder also had two-hit performances. The top three hitters in the Bruin lineup, Schroeder, Colburn and Kamekona, combined to go 5-for-10 with seven RBI.
Read rest of the writeup here.
Meanwhile over at Jackie Robinson stadium the boys got off to a great start in their MUST WIN series against Wazzu by blasting the Cougars 10-0 . Rye posted all the details on our win in his post here. They will try to win the series today at Jackie Robinson. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 pm PST. The game will be broadcast live on FSN.
Also don't forget that the women's tennis team are taking on Arkansas Razorbacks today in the Elite Eight today in Tulsa (beginning at 4:00 pm CST I think - hard to keep track through all these time zones!).
So we will put up a triple-header baseball/softball/tennis open thread later this afternoon so you can jabber about all the action while watching or tracking the game online.