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Ben Ball Roundup: News & Notes

Lot of hoops related news out of Westwood yesterday. So we are going to do a Ben Ball specific roundup for this Hump day. The lead story of course is the return of Josh Shipp. Achilles already posted the official release last night. Coach Howland is excited about Josh’s return and he is optimistic about the fact that this will be the first off season in two years during which Shipp will not be rehabbing from surgeries. From the Daily News:

For the first time in two seasons, Shipp will not be recovering from surgery during the summer, as he has in the past. He's had two hip surgeries since his freshman season.

"He really hasn't had a full summer in three years," Howland said. "I think it's going to benefit him immensely to have a summer now to work on his game."

Shipp said he was glad he went through the experience of the NBA draft process.Howland said Shipp learned what he needs to do to play professional basketball.

"He is doing yoga every day and he's lifting. He's doing a lot of stretching and really working on his flexibility," Howland said. "He knows what he needs to do."

I am excited about Shipp’s return. I know we have scrutinized his game a lot in last couple of seasons. However, we did keep in mind that it was somewhat unreasonable to expect the Shipp we all saw in his freshman year when he was playing injury free without having to worry about recovering from surgeries. Moreover, last year as the season went along,  while everyone was worrying about Shipp’s shooting slump, he became more selective with his shots, and did his best to play within the flow of the game. I think Shipp’s return will really be helpful in the sense that he will be able to team up with DC (and probably AA2) to give the incoming freshmen leadership and experienced perspective on how to develop and improve through Howland’s demanding program. This is positive and exciting development on all front.

Meanwhile, I am sure lot of you noted how Howland sounded sure about AA2’s return. More on that from the same DN report:

Aboya is on target to graduate in the summer from UCLA, but Howland is optimistic he will return for a fourth year and pursue a graduate degree. "In my heart and in my mind, yes," Howland said when asked if he expects Aboya to return to school and the team.

Just like JS, AA2’s return would be a huge help in terms of stabilizing the front court with talented freshmen combo of DG and JM.

Meanwhile, ND is showing his commitment to the program by staying in Westwood to work on his game. From the LA Times:

Also, Howland said sophomore Nikola Dragovic would remain at UCLA this summer to work out instead of returning home to Serbia.

Dragovic spent last summer in Serbia recovering from a hernia surgery that Howland was not aware of.

If ND can get stronger enabling him to play better defense next season, he will get his minutes. I think if he can improve his defense and get into the mindset of earning his playing time through defending his man, getting rebounds, and then taking his shots without forcing them, he could emerge as a solid contributor next season.

Lastly, here is Howland’s notes on LRMAM’s status:

  Mbah a Moute also has issues with a mid-range jumper but has received favorable reviews in workouts with NBA teams. He has worked out with Chicago, Milwaukee and Charlotte.
  ''They've gone well,'' Howland said. ''But the problem is Luc is in a situation where he's most likely going to be somewhere in the second round if he keeps his name in, and no one is going to guarantee him anything, even if they like him and like what they see.

"I talked to a prominent (general manager) Monday. No one is going to guarantee a thing because they want to see who falls to them. His decision will be tough, because he has a lot of factors to weigh.''

That was from the OC Register. According to Tim Haddock, who is subbing for Dohn in the DN, LRMAM is “working out for anybody who is willing to see him”. Again I get the impression that this is a kid who wants to make the NBA in the worst way this season. I think if he was using this process to get feedback on his game so that he could use it to improve his game for next season, he or the folks around him would signal that by now. But it looks like LRMAM is doing whatever it takes to get to the next level. Again we wish him best of luck and makes a decision that works out well for him.

We will look at the depth chart again once the whole draft picture clears up by June 16th, which is the deadline for kids like LRMAM to make up their mind. But the way its shaping up now, give the return of JS and Howland’s confidence in AA2’s return, it looks like we are long past dreading about a nuclear scenario. So in our world things are once again looking good for 08-09 edition of Ben Ball warriors.