Let's start the Humpday with some Ben Ball notes. We have some news concerning TH and scheduling. The news about TH is a tough. He is dealing with a back injury (that might require surgery this off season). From Brian Dohn:
[T]yler Honeycutt, a wing from Sylmar High and one of the freshmen expected to contend for a starting position, will not play this summer as he recovers from a fracture in his lower back.
He is hopeful the injury will not be an issue when practice begins in mid-October, but he was unsure if that was the case.
"Hopefully," Honeycutt said. "(Doctors) told me I'm going to need to rest for a couple of months. I don't know how long it's going to take to heal. They want me to stay off of it so it doesn't (fully) break and I have to go through surgery for it."
The 6-foot-9, 180-pound Honeycutt was hurt when he was undercut while jumping during the Academic All-American Classic on May 9. He said recent discomfort caused him to get X-rays, and he was diagnosed with a fracture "in the last bone of the back that connects to the hip" on the left side.
Honeycutt graduates from Sylmar on Friday, will move into UCLA on Sunday and begin summer classes Monday with the rest of UCLA's freshman basketball class.
"The main reason I'm going to summer school is so I can work out with (UCLA's) trainer," said Honeycutt, who added he is doing some shooting drills. "They don't want me doing any running or jumping.I've had back problems before and they want me to treat it like this for a couple of months. They want to get me in there as soon as possible and see what they can do to help me."
I guess the good news here is TH will be working with the UCLA folks to to deal with his injury asap. BTW I always there is just way too many all star games these days at the high school level. I don't see the upside to all these games after the regular season is already over. Anyway, I hope TH doesn't feel he has to rush through his rehab process. The key for him will be to stay patient and work closely with the UCLA trainers, who are some of the best in this business.
Staying with Ben Ball, the schedule for next season is out:
UCLA's 2009-10 men's basketball schedule is highlighted by non-conference contests in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, during Thanksgiving weekend; a home date with Kansas (preseason No. 1 by Andy Katz of ESPN) in the Pac-10/Big 12 Series (Dec. 6) and a trip to Notre Dame, Ind., to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (Dec. 19).
In all, the schedule features 12 games against teams that were in the field of 65 in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and another possible three games against NCAA Tournament teams in the 76 Classic.
While the pairings for the eight-team 76 Classic (Nov. 26-29) have not been announced, the field is very impressive. Joining UCLA will be Butler, Clemson, Long Beach State, Minnesota, Portland, Texas A&M and West Virginia. Six of the eight teams in the 76 Classic made the 2009 NCAA Tournament field (excluding Portland and Long Beach State).
The Bruins will also play in the 16th annual Wooden Classic on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Honda Center in Anaheim against Mississippi State. This will be UCLA's seventh consecutive Wooden Classic appearance and 13th overall (9-3 in prior contests). Last year, the Bruins defeated DePaul 72-54 in the Wooden Classic.
"This year's schedule is very ambitious with the young team that we are going to have," Ben Howland said. "There are a lot of outstanding teams that we are going to play. The 76 Classic field is very impressive and Kansas will be a top five team in the polls. We also have a return trip to Notre Dame, which is always a tough place to play."
With the team we will have next season (which is going to be even younger (in terms of both game experience and age) than this year's team), I think the schedule is going to pose tough challenges. The games against Kansas (at Pauley) and at Notre Dame are going to be brutal. The faceoff with Mississippi State (if they are actually able to suit up Renardo Sidney) will be very interesting. And as Coach Howland said Pac-10 is going to be tough:
"The Pac-10 is going to competitive again this year," Howland added. "Washington is going to be very good again as will California. Six teams have advanced to the NCAA Tournament out of our Conference in each of the last two years, so it is going to be a tough race."
Speaking of the race, there are already some interesting predictions out there in terms of where our Ben Ball warriors are going to finish next season in the Pac-10. Jon Wilner from College Sports Hotline (a blog on the San Jose Mercury News' website) thinks UCLA will finish 3rd in the conference. Nuss over at CougCenter posted his thoughts on losers and winners from the conference following the draft board shakeup and he also thinks UCLA is going to come in third. I think both of their takes are reasonable. However, given our inexperience I will be very happy right now if we finish in the top-4 of the conference next year and position ourself for a run in 2009-10 season. Anyway, going back to scheudling you can see the full slate on the official site by going here.
Before moving on from Ben Ball one more fun note to pass on. Apparently Rick Neuehisel has been helping out with hoops recruiting. From the Kitsap Sun (I gues some local paper in Washington):
Detlef Schrempf said his son Alex, who recently graduated from Bellevue, will walk on at UCLA. The 6-foot-5 forward helped lead the Wolverines to third place at the Class 3A state tournament. "Rick Neuheisel showed him around one day," Detlef Schrempf said. "He was sold."
As we have said many times, we haven't had a football coach who soaks up every aspect of our university and revels in being a Bruin like Neuheisel in decades. It's just awesome.
Lastly, let's end the roundup with an awesome story on Bruin legend Marcedes Lewis in his hometown newspaper the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Bob Keisser (one of the few Bruin alums who actually are part of Southern California's traditional print media) writes how Marcedes Lewis has been successul following college in stark comparsion to some of his team-mates from his legendary high school football team who chose a "different" route:
What's really intriguing to note is the success Lewis has had in the pros in comparison to his four good friends and fellow Poly seniors in 2001.
Hershel Dennis, Winston Justice, Manuel Wright and Bing went to USC as a package deal while Lewis resisted the pull to do likewise and stuck with his decision to play at UCLA.
That quartet enjoyed national chills and thrills at USC. Lewis was able to end his career with a 10-2 season in 2005. The pro divide has been one-sided.
Wright left USC early for the NFL and flopped, playing nine games in three seasons before being released. Dennis missed two college seasons, one for an off-field incident and one because of injury, and is out of football. Justice lost a season at USC, too, and he's made just one start in three seasons with the Eagles. Bing's tremendous potential has been held back by injuries. He finally got into his first NFL game in the Detroit Lions' finale last season after three years of pain and rehab.
Needless to say Marcedes' career in the NFL has been a little different from the aforementioned Petey coached Trojan busts. Marcedes was very clear the role UCLA played in his success at the next level:
"Honestly, I was always a leader, never a follower," Lewis said. "I have a lot of respect for (his Poly friends who went to USC) them. They made their decision and it never weighed on my mind. I was going to do what was best for me, and that was UCLA - the whole atmosphere, socially, the chance to play football and basketball.
"My mom and stepfather were supportive of me and it's the school they were comfortable with, which was important.
"I'm a hard worker, and no one can take away my work ethic. That alone helped me on this ride. But it was easier with the people around me. I've been blessed with support from my family and the chance to be around great coaches (at all levels) who helped make me the best player I could be."
A player who also understands that he can be a part of that support system now for a new generation of young Long Beach football players.
And I am sure Neuheisel and his coaching staff will make sure Marcedes lets all the next generation of young Long Beach football players know about this experience when they are considering UCLA.