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It's Official: Tyler Honeycutt Flees Ben Howland's Program

The open secret is officially no longer a "secret." Tyler Honeycutt is gone:

Tyler Honeycutt will declare for the NBA Draft and will hire an agent, the UCLA sophomore forward said during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

The Sylmar High product was long rumored to be planning on leaving for the NBA, despite a possible work stoppage, after an All-Pac-10 first team season.

Honeycutt averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 35 minutes per game as a sophomore in helping lead the Bruins to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, a year after the team went 14-18.

UCLA's best pitch to Honeycutt was the potential for next year's team, but Honeycutt cited what is projected to be a weak draft class as the catalyst for his decision.

"It wasn't really conflicting," Honeycutt said. "The biggest C-factor, the thing that would keep me, is the team next year and how good we could be. It could be a great team, but I feel like what's best for me is to leave this year."

Whatever you say Tyler. Good luck to you.

He becomes yet another player to flee Ben Howland's program for the NBA earlier than he should have following the footsteps of Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Luc Richard Mbah Moute and Jrue Holiday. All of those guys along with Honeycutt probably would have improved their NBA draft stock had they come back for another season, but they couldn't find any reason to stick around to play for Ben Howland.

Honeycutt's departure is not a surprise for us. He was mentally checked out after his "Kansas game" which got him (and his agent) the needed "highlight reel" for shopping himself around for the NBA draft. He didn't put much effort in for rest of the regular season until he showed up a bit on the national stage for the tourney game.

The easy way out here is that departure of Honeycutt will be a "positive" for UCLA program. It's the old "underbelly" argument Dorrelistas used to whisper around. The other side of the coin is now Bruins are left with a team that has no outside shooters and once again vulnerable to zone defense.

There are also those lingering questions about why players continue to flee from Howland's program as if they are trying to get out some basketball jail. It's not a pleasant situation and the uncomfortable feelings are going to stick around this program until Howland can put together an elite season next year.

Howland cannot use Honeycutt's departure as an excuse if he falls short next season. He needs to find a way to work this if he continues to fail in retaining elite talent in this program. Folks here will not be in the mood to listen to excuses next season.