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Ben Ball Roundup: UCLA = PointGuardU, Collison's Night & Other Draft Notes

Still feeling jazzed this morning about how it all worked out for one of the great Bruins of all time. While it was amusing to see how the much hyped Jrue Holiday (who never lived up to his reputation of being an all world basketball player out of high school and failed to display the will and passion to win and defensive intensity necessary to excel in Coach Howland's basketball program) kept dropping out of the lottery round, the best part of the night was to see a sharp dressed DC up on that podium.

DC became a special Ben Ball warrior last night elevating him to another level beyond AA, JF, RW, LRMAM and KL. He becomes the first four year player under Ben Howland to get drafted in NBA's first round and I think that is pretty significant. Most of you have already read the emotional tone DC struck when he was asked about his four years at UCLA. You can't put any price around those words and you can bet DC will officially now serve as the perfect posterboy for Coach Howland's UCLA program when he is going out to the living room of parents of elite recruits who are looking to UCLA as more than just a one year stop at a five star hotel with a basketball gym. Oh and with DC's selection we can officially start calling Howlandwood PointGuardU with alums such as JF, RW and Baron Davis already shining in the league.

Going back to DC, as Dohn notes in his coverage today he is going into a great situation and he sounds prepared and well briefed about his new team:

"I didn't know if it was for sure I was going there, but I did know a lot about their organization," Collison said. "I didn't know they were going to pick me up until the minute before I got picked."

Collison, who played four seasons and went to three Final Fours with UCLA, said he knew the Hornets were highly interested because coach Byron Scott was in contact with him several times. He was the Hornets' only draft pick and will back up Paul, who averaged 10.4 assists, but also 40.2 minutes per game.

"Everybody in this generation wants to learn from the (best) point guards, Chris Paul or (Utah's) Deron Williams," said the 6-foot Collison. "I have an opportunity to compete against him every day in practice and get better. I know the reason they drafted me is because they needed help for that second string to take the load off him."

So one of my favorite Bruins (I am talking not just about Ben Ball) gets to learn from one of my favorite Lakers of all time. DC is fired up to play for Coach Bryon Scott:

Collison, in particular, knew that New Orleans was interested but did not think the Hornets would pick him so high. He enters seemingly perfect circumstances, backing up Chris Paul. There won't be as much pressure to produce while he learns from Coach Byron Scott and one of the best point guards in the game.

"It's a great situation," Collison said. "The draft board went exactly how I wanted it to go."

Coach Howland also made the same points in UCLA's official release:

"Darren is going to be in a great situation in the league, playing for an outstanding coach in Byron Scott and playing behind maybe the best point guard in the NBA," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "I'm really happy for both these kids and just real excited for them. It's a great situation for Darren."

Great situation indeed. More on DC in the official site which notes DC became the 106th UCLA player to be selected in NBA draft history (UCLA is the all-time collegiate leader in NBA Draft selections, since 1948). UCLA has had at least one player taken in the NBA Draft for the last 13 years (since the 1997 draft), which is the longest streak in the nation.

As for the other player with UCLA affiliation(on paper) in the draft, Jrue Holiday sounded fairly clueless about his new team, the 76ers:

"They're a young team, they definitely get up and down," he said. "It definitely fits my description, an up-and-down point guard who loves to run, loves to pass."

Uhhh. If Jrue had used the Google he would have known that 76ers are actually going to run a Princeton offense this season under Eddie Jordan. If you are an UCLA basketball fan, I don't need to go on and describe how a Princeton "offense" works. It should be burned into your brain for rest of your life. Oh, another note Jrue is going to be playing for a retread NBA basketball coach, who just got fired from the Washington Wizards.  Jrue isn't the only one who sounds unprepared and clueless in this situation. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Tonight, Stefanski spoke about Holiday. Reading between the lines, it sounded like Stefanski (76ers Generam Manager Ed Stefanski) didn't think Holiday would come in right away and earn all kinds of playing time, but he did say he was impressed with Holiday's defensive abilities and added that defense might be a way for Holiday to find some playing time.

LOL. I guess Stefanski or his staff didn't do their due diligence and watched the tapes of oh I don't know - the last game that Holiday played in a UCLA uniform right in their backyard? Guess they didn't bother looking up his tapes against A.J. Abrams and James Harden either. Oh they also drafted him without even watching him workout in person:

They took Holiday without watching him workout:

''When (his advisors) thought he'd go in the top 10, he cancelled,'' said Tony DiLeo, the Sixers senior vice-president/assistant general manager. ''We interviewed him in Chicago (at the predraft combine). We studied him. He fits our team.''

LOL at the line of his "advisors" thinking he'd be a top 10 pick. Guess they were the one who told Holiday to spin out of that by saying they were coming in from a perspective where Holiday would be a late first round/early second round pick? Holiday and his new team are already off message and out of sync with each other:

Only minutes after Holiday was selected, assistant GM Tony DiLeo said the Sixers did not expect Holiday to make an impact this coming season. A few minutes later, on a conference call from Madison Square Garden, Holiday said he disagreed with that, saying he expects to contribute right away.

Note the contrast with DC's comments above.

Good luck to him and hope he has "fun" playing infront of the warm and cuddly fans from Philadelphia. I am sure they are going to be very undesrtanding if he lollygags on defense, shies away from pressure and is afraid to step in big games (no doubt the Philly fans will not get tired of the lines about how he was just deferring to his more experienced team-mates when passing up wide open Js he is supposed to make). Whatever.

The most important thing out of last night is once again how it all ended for DC. As for his team-mates - JS and PAA - Coach Howland as always is thinking with optimism:

Howland said he expected both to receive invitations to NBA summer camps.

"Both of those kids will probably end up playing on NBA summer league teams," Howland said. "Both have good situations already on the table from high-level European (teams) if that doesn't work out for them."

I am not too worried about them either. It will work out all right with them and they have that degree to fall back on.