If you're reading this, you probably shouldn't: it's sunny, warm, and an extended holiday weekend. But, if you're going to take a break from the picnics, the barbeques, the block parties, let's give you your weekend round-up from around Bruins Nation. Since we last checked in, we discussed UCLA's slide into athletic obscurity under Guerrero's reign of error, profiled Natalie Williams' place in UCLA and Pac-10 history, checked in on the SBN Conference Re-Draft project (with our sixth round pick being Duke), discussed why college football is king (financially), officially moved into the Pac-12 era, and profiled four Bruins currently starring in MLB. Most importantly, Nestor posted the details on BN's 2011-12 scholarship/fellowship program.
Now, let's get to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Since college football is king, let's start there: in ranking the Pac-12's running backs, UCLA's running corps (Johnathan Franklin, Derrick Coleman, Malcolm Jones, and Jordon James) ranked fourth, behind only (no surprise) Oregon (led by Heisman contender LaMichael James), Washington, and Colorado. In other words, as we all know here at BN, if the offense struggles this year, it won't be for lack of talent carrying the ball (side note: imagine the numbers JetSki would put up behind an offensive line without injuries and some depth, coupled with a passing game that made defenses play the run honestly).
- Moving on to Bruins in the NFL, the Tennessean profiled the impact that Akeem Ayers arrival in Nashville will have on the Titans' current linebacker corps and the impact he's expected to have on a team in full rebuilding mode.
- Heading over from Nashville to Tampa, Fox Sports checked in with former Bruin stand-out and current Buccaneers defensive lineman Brian Price, discussing his slow recovery from season-ending injuries (torn hamstring and fractured pelvis) and the rehab he's been going through to get himself prepared to return to the NFL (assuming the lockout ends eventually). Here's to hoping big Brian makes a speedy recovery and can get back to his dominating form.
- Speaking of the lockout, former UCLA long-snapping extraordinaire Christian Yount can't sign with any of the teams interested in acquiring his services until the NFL and the players' union get their collective heads out of their a**es. Since specialists like him are rarely drafted, but usually signed as free agents post-draft, the NFL lockout means, as of now, he has no team (unlike drafted teammates Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore), so he can only sit and wait, work out on his own, and keep his fingers crossed that the lockout ends sooner rather than later.
- Switching gears to the top line, UCLA's golf sensation Patrick Cantlay is once again en fuego on the professional circuit (although he doesn't get to actually collect his winnings), avoiding bogeys on the difficult course at the AT&T National, outperforming a lot of the professional regulars with a mature golf game that belies his youth and amateur status. Let's just hope we can keep him in Westwood for another year or two to add to our alma mater's national title collection.
- Sticking with non-revenue sports, UCLA's women's gymnastics brought in Ti Liu, a stand-out gymnast from Canada who has just begun to shine for her country's national team set-up. Liu, fluent in three languages, will walk-on this year, with the possibility of earning a scholarship. Or, in other words, another super-talented addition to the ranks of this year's incoming freshman class (both on and off the field).
We'll jump over to some basketball notes after the jump.
- On the basketball front, HoopsWorld's Luke Byrnes put together a list of the top centers in college basketball for this upcoming 2011-12 season. In that group of five was none other than UCLA's own big man, Joshua Smith. With Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee both prematurely jumping ship to the now-locked out NBA, Josh will have to play a bigger role in the UCLA offense, meaning he'll need to get more minutes on the floor and learn to avoid the foul trouble that kept him limited during his freshman campaign. Byrnes expects big things from Smith this season: Bruin fans can hope that's true to help out a team with questions on the wings.
- Per the Oakland Tribune, in NCAA related basketball news, one of the major items that is under review is college summer basketball. Looking to limit the influence of AAU coaches and the accompanying problems (runners, wannabe agents, etc.), the NCAA is considering a host of changes to the rules for the summer recruitment period in hopes of minimizing the risk of amateur rules violations.
- Speaking of the influence of AAU basketball, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a quick break down of the impact that AAU teams have had on Georgia college athletics and the hiring of Korey McCray as one of Howland's assistants, a move that many feel give the "AAU way" some legitimacy.
- Moving on to hoops recruiting notes, versatile PG/SG/SF prospect Kyle Anderson (who hails from New Jersey) discussed with CBS Sports his top-five list, which included four east coast programs (Georgetown, Florida, St. John's, Seton Hall) and UCLA. The 6'8" prospect, who wants to play PG in college (and the NBA) took note of Howland's track record of success in putting point guards into the NBA. It's about time these kids took notice.
- Another UCLA point guard recruiting target, Dominic Artis has decided to leave Salesian High School of Richmond to go to noted
diploma millbasketball academy Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. If the kid is already jumping schools at this stage, what are the odds that he'll follow in fellow Bay Area product Drew Gordon's footsteps and bail on the Bruins?
- Finally, CBS Sports has a nice little profile of highly-touted UCLA recruiting target Shabazz Muhammad. Unlike other elite recruits, Shabazz knows there are flaws in his game and that he's weak in some areas. Rather than just buy into his hype (much of it well-deserved), he's dedicated himself to becoming a more complete player. That's the kind of attitude Howland needs to bring into Westwood. You just got to like a kid who reminds you of the Arron Afflalo tough-as-nails will-to-win gamer attitude.
And that's your round-up from around the UCLA-iverse. So walk away from the keyboard, put down the mouse, and get back out there and enjoy this sunny Fourth of July holiday weekend.