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UCLA Basketball Accolades and Sophomore Seasons

Shabazz and Kyle both get recognized for their work and discuss returning for next year

Kyle Anderson is player of the week in the PAC 12.  Please Kyle one more year!
Kyle Anderson is player of the week in the PAC 12. Please Kyle one more year!

Washington State is a really bad team with one good player (Brock Motum) and a really bad coach. This game would be a joke if they played anywhere but Pullman. Washington State did almost beat a decent Oregon team at home but choked that with a stupid foul. The moral of the story is if we play decent we beat Washington State but there is a lot of other news going on. Let me sum it up by quoting Bruin Report Online after the Arizona game:

With the win the Bruins now set their sights on the Washington schools and the last road trip of the season. UCLA has historically had trouble with the road game at UW, but this year's Husky team is pretty bad and WSU is really bad. It's not an easy trip, but a Bruin sweep is a lot more likely this year than it has been in past seasons. A sweep would give UCLA no worse than a share of the Pac-12 title and real momentum heading into the Pac-12 tournament.

While the focus on Saturday was on Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew II, Kyle Anderson was the hero of the week.

Kyle Anderson of the UCLA men's basketball team has secured Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for the week of Feb. 25-March 3, as announced by the conference office on Monday.

Anderson averaged 19.0 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game in a pair of victories at home last week. The freshman from Fairview, N.J., registered his eighth double-double of the season in UCLA's 79-74 overtime win against Arizona State last Wednesday and finished with 17 points in a 74-69 win against Arizona on Saturday.

Against the Sun Devils, Anderson went 6-for-14 from the field (.429) and shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. With 21 points that evening, Anderson was one of three UCLA freshmen to tally at least 20 points. He also added 15 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and one steal.

In UCLA's 74-69 win before a record crown in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night, Anderson tallied 17 points and shot 8-for-16 from the field (.500). He scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half and finished the game with seven rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal.

That is great news for Kyle for the week, possible bigger news for next season with Jordan Adams coming back and Kyle likely coming back:

"Kyle has already spoken to me about coming back, and him, Jordan (Adams), and Tony Parker are going to work their butts off and get an apartment, and all that stuff," Anderson Sr. said. "I do think he's leaning towards coming back, but with that said, the way he's playing right now, the mock drafts might not see it or write it, but I think his draft status is moving up with his offensive aggressiveness lately.

"Mentally, he's prepared to come back."

. . .

"If he were outside (pick number) 20, I'd say he has to go back," Anderson Sr. said. "I think if he comes back a year, I think he's an All-American, and I think he's top five, I really do."

. . . Before Anderson arrived, the expectation was that he would compete for the point guard spot this season. And despite Howland's tentative plans to play him at point next season, Anderson Sr. says he'll be working with his son solely on skills needed to succeed as a forward, where he believes Anderson will likely play in the NBA. So playing the point won't play a part in whether he'll return or not.

Speaking of Tony Parker coming back, Jack Wang wrote this:

Jordan Adams and Tony Parker aren't going pro. The latter was homesick and non-committal about staying in UCLA a few months ago, but said he's happy now.

We have heard this from multiple sources. Not sure what to make of it but Kyle, Jordan and Tony are truly friends who spent a lot of time together in the summer. Ironically Kyle staying may help Tony decide to stay at UCLA. Still a lot of time left in the season.

As to that other freshman, Shabazz Muhammad, he has been named a finalist for freshman of the year to be named on April 15.

UCLA forward Shabazz Muhammad was named one of eight finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award on Monday, an honor given annually to the national freshman of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 forward, is averaging 18.3 points per game -- the highest mark among freshmen in the country. His play has helped No. 23 UCLA (22-7, 12-4) into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 entering the final week of play. The Bruins are back in the Associated Press top 25 for the first time since Jan. 20.

Muhammad is second in the Pac-12 in scoring and No. 36 in the nation. He is also second in the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage (44.6), barely trailing Stanford's John Gage (44.8).

I must admit I am really impressed by that three point percentage. Shabazz has really worked hard on that part of his game and it shows. Shabazz has overcome a lot and never seems to get a break. Most recently it was Ben Howland screwing Shabazz with the statement Shabazz was gone to the NBA after this season. We all realize that Shabazz is gone but that is for Shabazz to say not for Ben Howland. Again credit to Shabazz who does a better job at coach-speak than Ben Howland:

On Monday, he clarified that he hadn't received the information from Muhammad and apologized for speaking out of turn - while suggesting that a player of that caliber would still be better off going pro.

"I'm sometimes too honest," Howland said. "It would have been better to answer that question differently the other day. I've never discussed it with Shabazz. It's kind of obvious when a kid's a lottery pick that they're going to the NBA in this day and age. ...

"It's incumbent upon me as the coach here - if a kid is a top-10 pick - to encourage him to do the right thing for him and his family. In my opinion, almost without question if someone's a lottery pick, he should go to the NBA."

Added Muhammad: "I never said I'm not coming back even though I know I'm in a pretty good position draft-wise. But I'm looking at our team next year and we could be really good. I'm just worried about this season right now."

One last note is Travis Wear is still hurting.

UCLA forward Travis Wear did not practice Monday as he continues to recover from a sprained foot, coach Ben Howland said.

So here we go into the last week of the season. Will UCLA finish a season ranked for the first time in I don't how long? Or will they lose to one of the Washington teams? All I know is they have to win to take the PAC 12 and keep that ranking.

UCLA has won its last 19 games at Washington State, a streak that began during the 1993-94 season. The Bruins have recorded an 18-2 record in 10 seasons against Washington State under head coach Ben Howland. UCLA has not won at Washington since Jan. 10, 2004, during Coach Howland's first season as the Bruins' head coach.

The Bruins have won six of their last seven games after having dropped back-to-back games to Arizona State (Jan. 26) and USC (Jan. 30). UCLA has won its last four games, outscoring the opposition by an average of 8.5 ppg. Through the Bruins' last seven games, Larry Drew II has made 12 of 19 three-point shots (.632) while averaging 10.6 ppg and 7.4 apg. During UCLA's four-game win streak, Kyle Anderson has averaged 16.8 ppg and 11.0 rpg.

Go Bruins!