Let's start this Friday with more followup on the developing story around Davis and Travis Wear. Roy Williams issued an official press release yesterday and he doesn't sound very happy:
"We are extremely disappointed that David and Travis are leaving the program," says Williams. "I love both kids and they would have been very important parts of our team next season. It is a significant blow to our team as we had four post players and now we are down to two. They are quality kids and will be quality players.
"Their father called me last night and asked for their release, which came as a complete surprise. I met with both kids in mid-April for our typical end-of-year meetings and together we worked on their development plans for next season. Both David and Travis seemed to be excited about their futures at North Carolina.
"Our coaching staff will look at whatever options are available but it's hard to replace two quality players at this time."
Hmm. Perhaps Williams also need to do a better job communicating with his players. Clearly the wires got crossed somewhere here and Williams completely missed what was coming. Note UCLA cannot recruit the Wears until there is a formal release from Carolina and as far I am not sure if they have issue a release yet. David Wear though dropped a hint in the LA Times about how much the Wears are interested in UCLA:
North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, "I would imagine UCLA would be interested."
We will see how it all plays out. At this point I think it is safe to say if the Wears were to come to Westwood, the majority of Bruin Nation will be welcoming them with open arms. We know that those guys are not going to be program defining contributors, however, both of them can play meaningful part in getting UCLA back to where it was in Howland's early years within next two seasons.
Even if they cannot play next season, having them in the program will be beneficial as they would help Coach Howland put together highly competitive practices. They will push Reeves Nelson, Brendan Lane, Anthony Stover, and Josh Smith. More importantly having them in the fold will allow the coaches to zero in on guards/wing forwards for next year's recruiting class. Let's just wait and see how it all develops in next few days. More hoops notes after the jump.
A number of you have already taken note of this terrific article on Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee on tWWL, written by Bruin alum Diamond Leung. I thought Malcolm Lee's comments were really uplifting:
"Coming in as the No. 1 class, we had high expectations for ourselves," Lee said. "We're carrying a lot of tradition. The four letters on our jerseys hold a lot of weight." [...]
"I definitely wasn't leaving on this note," Lee said. "You can't leave UCLA like that. That's crazy."
I think and I hope Lee realized this season that his future at the next level is at the 2. I am hoping he will have the same kind of summer RW had following his freshman season in Westwood during which he worked on getting stronger and work on his shot. I don't expect Lee to become like RW but if he can make improvement on his shot, he will have a chance to emerge as a very good player and make progress towards realizing his dream.
As for Anderson, he said all the right things in that piece, but it really comes down to what Coach Howland communicated to him in person (emphasis added):
"Words are cheap," he [Howland] said, demanding Anderson to back it up with actions. [...]
"If he really is mentally tough and comes back with the right frame of mind that he wants to prove that he's a lot better than that, he'll have a chance to do just that," Howland said.
That is about it. Isn't it? Anderson will have to hit the gym and work on his shot. For him to become a serviceable point guard in Howland's program though, it will be all about his mindset. Is he going to be tough enough next year to man up in M2M? That moment against Marcus Johnson was probably the most humiliating moment experienced by a Bruin pg in recent history. Anderson did play slightly better at the end of the season but lot of his better moments came from the off-guard spot.
For Anderson to emerge and live up the solid reputation he built up in high school, it will be all about coming in with a different mindset. Perhaps the departure of some suspect characters from this program in last two seasons will help him in that regard. Hopefully Zeke Jones will offer him legit competition for playing time (although we have no idea how good Jones is and at this point we are relegated to hoping). It sure sounds like at least Lee "gets it." We will see what happens next two years. We will be rooting hard for them to get it right and leave Westwood on an up note. If they can get it done, I have no doubt we are going to feel as good about them as we did with DT, CB and RH, who also experienced adversity during first few years of their UCLA careers.