Hoops Scholarship Situation

Here is the latest on the scholarship situation with the basketball team -- and whether some scholarships might become available through a number of different means. UCLA could very well have more scholarships to give as a result of current players' academic problems...

Sources indicate that both T.J. Cummings and Andre Patterson are having academic difficulties and could possibly be ineligible next season.


Both, according to sources, are in school, but it's uncertain how seriously either are taking their academics at this point.


Cummings could very well be the more likely of the two not to return next year, for his senior season. Cummings has intended, since he arrived at UCLA, to leave school early in hopes of playing in the NBA.  He's always been in at least somewhat of academic trouble since arriving at Westwood. Now it seems that those two contributing factors are making it probable that Cummings will leave UCLA early. Many close to the situation believe that he'll at least submit his name for the NBA draft.  Many also believe, even if he isn't drafted, he'll still leave school and try the free agent market. 


Patterson, who was ineligible academically for the fall quarter and had to attend classes at Santa Monica City College in order to enroll again in winter quarter, again finds himself in academic hot water.  Patterson will have to have a good spring quarter, according to sources, to be eligible next year and still could very likely have to appeal to the academic committee to have eligibility next fall quarter.


Patterson is more critical for UCLA's future – both short-term and long-term. While Cummings would help next year's team, he will be a senior. Losing him doesn't make any more scholarships available for the high school junior class. Patterson on the other hand will only be a junior, and is a better contributor on the court, and could fit in very well to the system put in place by new head coach Ben Howland – one that emphasizes intensity. 


It's also believed that Ryan Walcott isn't in great academic standing.  It's thought that Walcott's academics are not as bad as either those of Cummings or Patterson, but a bad spring quarter could possibly make him ineligible next fall.


Trevor Ariza, the 6-8 forward from Los Angeles Westchester who signed with UCLA in fall, still isn't qualified to date, lacking a qualifying test score. The latest is that Ariza took the SAT this last Saturday after having taken a recent SAT study course.  He'll have a couple more opportunities to take the SAT this spring and one more opportunity to take the ACT.  Ariza's GPA is solid enough and many close to him believe he'll have a good chance of achieving a qualifying test score.  Ariza has the level of talent that UCLA needs to bring into a rebuiliding program and it will be critical if he qualifies.


All of these situations could possibly provide UCLA with more scholarships to give either this spring or to the high school junior class. But here are also other possibilities of other scholarships opening up in order to give the new coaching staff the opportunity to bring in more players from the high school junior class.  It wouldn't be a case where UCLA "ran off" players, but merely a situation where, after the new staff evaluated a player, informed him that, under their system, he probably wouldn't be seeing much playing time.  In fact, it would not only be entirely ethical, but many believe it's only fair to a player.  That player would want to have as much information as he could from the new coaching staff in plenty of time to be able to make a decision about his basketball future.


Another possibility of a scholarship being able to give would be the possibility of Josiah Johnson becoming walkon status for his fifth year.  Johnson, who is a good student, is on track to graduate in four years and wouldn't need the fifth year academically. Theoretically, Johnson would then only have to take on the financial responsibility of the first two quarters of his fifth year in order to play as a fifth-year senior, which would be completely feasible.


From an overall roster situation, it would hurt UCLA to maintain the number of players it has on scholarship currently in the sophomore class.  There are six:  Cedric Bozeman, Andre Patterson, Dijon Thompson, Josiah Johnson, Ryan Walcott and Brian Morrison.  If these six graduated in the same class, it would hurt UCLA in regard to the 5/8 rule, which only allows a school by NCAA rules to bring in five players at the most in any year. Unless one of these scholarships open up to give to the high school junior class, UCLA could conceivably give five scholarships to players in the high school sophomore class – and have one more available that they couldn't give out.


As of right now, there are, obviously, a number of situations that will have to play out before UCLA will be able to determine just how many scholarships it will have to give in the spring and to the high school junior class.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories