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Moser Departure: Another Reset For UCLA Basketball

Understandably the thread on Mike Moser's departure filled up pretty fast. I wanted to digest more info and let one more day play out before trying to come up with another reset. So here I go. Let's start with a report from Mike Tokito in the Oregonian concerning Mike Moser's decision to leave UCLA:

Broadous [Tony Brodius, Moser's Head Coach at Portland's Grant High School, BN Ed.] said he believes Washington and Washington State are high on Moser's wish list, and Moser would probably prefer to play at another Pac-10 school. Broadous added that Moser should have plenty of options.

"A lot of major colleges were calling me since the middle of the season when they saw he wasn't playing a whole lot," Broadous said. "Schools have been contacting me, ‘If he's not happy, if he decides to leave, please let us know, keep us in mind.'"

Moser led Grant to a state title in 2008 and was a first-team all-state pick as a senior. He also played on the USA Junior National Select team and in the Nike Hoop Summit. Because of all that success, Broadous said the adversity Moser has faced in college might benefit him in the long run.

"Ever since high school, frankly, he hasn't had much (adversity) because he's always been the tallest and the best," Broadous said. "So now he has to go to UCLA where that's not the case, and you have to fight a little bit and battle a little bit and work a little harder. He'll have to sit out a year, and he can get stronger, work on some of his deficiencies, and he'll be fine."

From Broadous's comments it sounds like his coach almost wishes Moser stuck it out at UCLA. I'd like to make the point I have been making in the comment threads. This situation was very different than the ones the program faced in the cases of Drew Gordon and J'Mison Morgan.  This is not a case of addition by subtraction.  Coach Howland wanted Moser around.  The question for us is exactly how Howland went about in communicating to Moser that he really wanted him around and could potentially project a productive career for him at UCLA in terms of emerging as solid contributor in a conference title contending team and beyond. The question is how did Howland sell his "vision" to Moser and the kind of role he could have played in the program.

At least based on his size and athletic potential Moser could have been the classic Ben Ball warrior who could have played the role of LRMAM a year or two down the line if he was motivated to put in the work. I do believe Moser leaving is a bit of setback for this program. I don't think it's disastrous and I still think the situation is fixable. I have been going over the potential scenarios for our program in the coming weeks. Let's see if I can game it out a bit.

Here are some of the potential scenarios in the coming weeks once the NBA draft drama and April signing season has played out. First of all here are the relevant dates:

  • April 14: Spring signing date for college basketball begins
  • April 25: Deadline to declare intentions to "test" the waters
  • May 8: Deadline to withdraw from the draft
  • May 19: Spring signing date for college basketball ends

And here are ways how it can play out for UCLA hoops from the way I am seeing it:

Dream Scenario:

  • Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt don't even bother to "test" NBA waters and totally stay focused on next season
  • Bruins pick up Ray McCallum , Trey Ziegler and at least couple of more solid players via recruiting or transfer
  • Howland brings in two new assistants with highly respected recruiting credentials

Workable Scenario:

  • Lee tests out the NBA waters but comes back the program. Honeycutt stays put.
  • Bruins pick up three to four solid players in the mold of LMR, PAA who will come in with total commitment to play defense.
  • Howland brings in at least one new assistant with respected recruiting credentials and another coach who at least appears to be a hungry, up and coming coach.

MEH Scenario:

  • Both Lee and Honeycutt test the NBA waters and eventually decide to come back. I just don't the idea of Tyler "testing" NBA waters after his freshman season is helpful to Howland's current image at UCLA
  • Bruins pick up three role players via recruiting or transfer
  • Howland puts together an uninspiring coaching staff


  • Both Lee and Honeycutt declares that they would "test" NBA waters and keep their names in the draft
  • Bruins finish the recruiting season with just one or two more role players
  • Howland tops it off with an uninspiring recruiting staff

Notice I didn't include Terrence Jones even in the dream scenario. I don't see it happening because I haven't heard anything reliable that makes me think Jones is a potential fit for UCLA athletics. I would be happy to be wrong but just not seeing it. Plus now that Moser is going back home, I don't think that scenario helps all that much considering Jones and Moser were reportedly good friends from their Oregon prep school scene. So that doesn't help either.

Anyway, I don't think it's disaster if Howland doesn't land McCallum or Ziegler. McCallum has always been a longshot. It has been all but understood in recruiting circles that he is going to play for his Dad at U. of Detroit. If you want to get a sense of his Dad's MO here was Dave Telp (recruiting analyst from Midwest) scoop on McCallum's father (from our BN Twitter account, which you should follow if you are not doing it already):

RT @DaveTelep Little birdie told me Ray McCallum Sr. never instructed his staff to come up with a PG list and hasn't recruited 1 for 2 years

So yeah, this is this the longest of long shot in my book. If somehow McCallum ends up at UCLA, it would be Howland's potentially most meaningful get since the signing of AA and JF. That was a different time. What is more intriguing to me is to see how the Lee and Honeycutt situation turns out. I really hope Honeycutt doesn't decide to "test" the NBA waters. Don't think that would be a healthy sign.

I also want to see the kind of staff Howland puts together and whether that staff will be up and running in getting us in the mix and in lead for 2011 recruits from Southern California such as Angel Chol, and Norvel Pelle, and other west coast recruits such as Josiah Turner (Sacramento) and Gary Bell (Washington). Also note Tuner and Pelle's academics could be potential issues. It's the class of 2011 that will tell us the real story about whether Howland has recruiting juice left with the elite kids from our backyard.

As for the coming weeks, once again I sound like a broke record in saying these are interesting times. There are definitely good reasons to be concerned but I want to see how it plays out in next two years in terms of how Howland rebuilds his current roster, makeup of staff, on court performance (being "young" will not be sufficient excuse next season), and then the recruiting class of 2011. We are all rooting for Howland but the onus is on him to get it done and fix the mess he created at UCLA.