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News » Holiday leads former UCLA standouts into NBA Draft

Holiday leads former UCLA standouts into NBA Draft

Holiday leads former UCLA standouts into NBA Draft
It's starting to become part of the normal routine for UCLA men's Basketball.

The NBA Draft is approaching, and several important Bruins are expected to be chosen.

This year, guard Jrue Holiday headlines the crop of draft-eligible Bruins who could hear their names called Thursday at Madison Square Garden. The 19-year-old Holiday played only one season at UCLA, but he could be selected in the top 10 because of his awareness and potential.

Holiday waited until June 13 to formally declare for the draft and hire agent Dan Fegan.

"I'm sure Jrue will be a great NBA player and have a long career," UCLA coach Ben Howland said in a statement released by the university.

Holiday is an unusual prospect. At UCLA, he played shooting guard, but most NBA teams project him as a point guard. He averaged only 8.5 points per game last season - fewer than the Bruins' other four starters - and his role at UCLA prevented him from what he says he does best: playing with the ball in his hands.

The team's offense instead emphasized more experienced players. Senior point guard Darren Collison and senior small forward Josh Shipp, who are also eligible for Thursday's draft, received more opportunities and fired far more shots than Holiday.

When Holiday did touch the ball, he often looked to pass. He had six or more assists in seven games last season, including both of UCLA's NCAA tournament games.

"Passing gets me more hyped than scoring," Holiday said in an interview before the tournament.

NBA teams value that mentality. Most experts predict that Holiday will be chosen early, and the New York Knicks are said to be interested in taking him with the No. 8 pick.

Holiday has even been compared to former Bruin Russell Westbrook, who also played shooting guard at UCLA and then switched to point guard in the NBA when Oklahoma City chose him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2008.

Westbrook, who spent two seasons at UCLA, had an excellent rookie year in the NBA , averaging about 15 points and five assists per game.

Meanwhile Collison, whom Howland chose to start at point guard over Westbrook during the 2007-2008 season and then over Holiday in 2008-2009, is expected to fall toward the end of the first round.

Collison finished a brilliant college career this spring, but he is considered to be slightly undersized for a pro point guard. Though he is considered an excellent decision-maker and agile defender, Collison will probably not score prolifically in the NBA .

Collison's draft position is more difficult to predict because of the plethora of available point guards. Several Web sites have reported that the Portland Trailblazers are interested in Collison and could choose him with the 24th pick.

Shipp could slip into the second round, where players do not receive a guaranteed contract. Former UCLA forward Alfred Aboya is also eligible, but he is unlikely to be drafted at all.

If either Shipp or Aboya is selected, it will mark the second consecutive year in which three Bruins were chosen by NBA teams.

In 2008, Minnesota picked forward Kevin Love, Milwaukee picked forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Oklahoma City picked Westbrook.

And when Holiday's name is called, it will mark the fourth consecutive year UCLA has seen one of its young stars selected in the first round.

Gordon hurt

Freshman forward Drew Gordon injured his patellar tendon in a workout with the United States Under-19 team. An MRI revealed that Gordon will not require surgery.

Team spokesman Ryan Finney said that Gordon should begin rehabilitation this week.

Schedule released

UCLA released its official schedule for the 2009-2010 season on June 16.

The non-conference schedule features a home matchup with Kansas and a trip to South Bend, Ind. to face Notre Dame. The Bruins will also play in the 76 Classic in Anaheim, which will include Clemson, Texas A&M and West Virginia.

The Pac-10 schedule includes a grueling final stretch for UCLA, which will play five of its final seven games on the road and finish with a difficult trip to Arizona State and Arizona.


Fans can now follow Howland on Twitter (@Ben_Howland), and sophomores Malcolm Lee and J'mison Morgan also have Twitter pages. ... Former walk-on James Diefenbach, who was also a starter on the men's volleyball team, was awarded the Don Shepherd post-graduate scholarship, a $10,000 scholarship for graduate school, and will attend the University of San Diego School of Law. ... The USC men's Basketball team hired Kevin O'Neill as its new coach.

(C) 2008 Daily Bruin via UWIRE

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 23, 2009


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