This new feature -- the "Message Board News" -- will enable you to quickly get the lowdown on the latest news from the message boards!
On the message board it was asked if the incoming basketball recruits, Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Josh Shipp and Lorenzo Mata will make as big an impact as Trevor Ariza has this year as a freshman.
It's far too difficult to make comparisons since they all play different positions and are different types of players.
For potential NBA talent, Ariza is probably better than all of them.
But Ariza doesn't have near the basketball acumen of either Farmar or Afflalo. Right now, Farmar and Affalo are better basketball players than Ariza was last year at this time, even though Ariza had more upside.
I think both Farmar and Afflalo will have a bigger impact next year than Ariza has this year because they have a more advanced feel for the game than Ariza does and are more disciplined. I think Farmar and Affalo could possibly be better players than Ariza initially in their first year but have less potential to be as good as Ariza down the line.
I don't think Shipp is capable of making a big impact next year as a true freshman. I think he's a role player at UCLA, with the chance to maybe start further down the line, maybe by his junior or senior years, unless he gets recruited over.
Mata also doesn't project to having as much impact as Ariza next year, for a few reasons. One, there will be a deeper roster next year. If Ariza came in next year and had to compete against next year's roster (including himself a year older) for playing time, he wouldn't be getting the minutes he is now. Secondly, the development of post players is different than wings. Wings can more easily impact quickly on the college level, with it being more about athleticism and pure talent, while post success in college has more to do with experience and seasoning.
So, all in all, I'd say you will probably have three players who will come in and make immediate impacts -- Farmar, Ariza and Mata. I think Farmar, being a point guard, and with UCLA needing one pretty badly, will probably have the biggest impact. I think Afflalo's ready-made game will translate well. And I think Mata's ability and his toughness will get him some impact minutes. Judging whether they'll have a bigger impact than Ariza is tough; it's just so unpredictable. But I think those three, possibly in different ways, could have the chance to make impacts on the same level as Ariza's this year, with Farmar and Afflao -- and especially Farmar -- able to possibly make a bigger impact. -- Tracy Pierson
Junior Lemau'u, the freshman defensive end who had to leave the team in November, has been reinstated. -- Tracy Pierson
In regards to Bryan Payton, a defensive back who has been committed for sometime and has now said he won't go to UCLA: It should be pretty obvious that UCLA was recruiting other cornerbacks to prepare a fall-back position if Payton didn't qualify. It's pretty silly that he's saying UCLA messed with him at all. If he had gotten it done in the classroom, UCLA wouldn't have recruited other cornerbacks.
On Daniel Drayton, another committed defensive back: He's looking at other schools, and it looks pretty certain that he won't qualify for UCLA.
It's still uncertain what will happen with offensive line prospect Shannon Tevaga and linebacker Will Price. One source has indicated Price could very well be a long shot.
Most sources close to the situation of elite defensive end Brigham Harwell situation believe that he's cleared to get into UCLA.
So, just speculating, but we think, when it comes to Payton, with his poor academics, not trying to get him past the UCLA academic committee will greatly help the chances of getting Harwell, particularly, as well as Tevaga and Price, past admissions. And for UCLA, they definitely need a DE like Harwell, a lineman and a linebacker worse than they probably need a defensive back. --Tracy Pierson
This is based on some things we've heard and our own speculation.
Dino Babers, who has been hired by UCLA, from what we hear, will likely not be the OC.
There have been rumors that have persisted that either Head Coach Karl Dorrell will function as the OC, or Jon Embree would.
Our own speculation: Babers might take over as either tight ends or wide receiver coach. Then either Dorrell functions as the OC, or Embree takes over TE coach and the OC... -- Tracy Pierson
UCLA assistant Donny Daniels watched Robert Rothbart, 7-0 SR PF, Sacramento (Calif.) Natomas, practice Friday.
From what I heard at the beginning of the week, UCLA is interested and vey well could trip him officially. It would be Rothbart's last visit. I'm hearing that Rothbart is very interested in UCLA.
I'm a bit torn over it. Rothbart does have skills. He can shoot very well for a 7-footer, handles it pretty well, and can score. The issue with him is toughness, defense and rebounding. Admittedly, I haven't seen him play since last summer, but I've seen him play probably 25 times in the last several years. In all of those games, he wasn't aggressive, preferred to float outside, and didn't rebound well. Physically I've heard he's put on a little weight, but he's still very skinny, and has pretty short arms for a 7-footer. I think he would greatly benefit from a redshirt year, but I don't think UCLA could afford to bring him in and redshirt him.
Where he really got coaches to notice him last summer -- including Howland -- was at the Nike Camp, in the three-on-three. It is my favorite aspect of the summer evaluation period. At the Nike three-on-three it really gives you a chance to see players get a lot of touches and a sense of their natural feel for the game. Rothbart had one particularly good day at the three-on-three, and coaches really took notice. It was, from what I remember, what got Arizona interested. And I know Howland was there that day.
With the issue about UCLA's current big men being toughness and rebounding, I have my concerns about Rothbart. But there is the argument that if you have a tough mutha at the five, like Mata, your four wouldn't necessarily have to be a tough banger.
IMO, I think Rothbart very well could be the leading target right now among the fours UCLA is looking at in the 2004 class.
If it was another year, when UCLA had a pretty deep roster and could take Rothbart as its 10-13 scholarship, I'd be all for it. But, again, UCLA will need him to play immediately.
The issue is, UCLA needs bodies, and there just aren't many out there...-- Tracy Pierson
Driving home from the Bay Area yesterday, Greg and I had a lot to talk about, and to speculate about.
So, we laid out just how the next several years might look for Bruin basketball.
For the 2004-2005 season, while the team might not be quite as good as I thought they'd be going into this current season, I think they'll still be pretty good.
PG: Farmar, Bozeman, Walcott,
SG: Morrison, Afflalo, Bozeman, Rubin
SF: Thompson, Afflalo, Shipp,
PF: Ariza, Mata, (perhaps another freshman),
C: Fey, Hollins, Mata
At the point, I think the combination of Jordan Farmar and Cedric Bozeman will be very effective. Right now, I think Farmar will emerge next year as the main option at the point, with Bozeman getting considerable minutes, too. He'll provide great defense and good matchup opportunities against opponents' smaller point guards.
I went with what I thought was the highest percentage guess with a fifth freshman -- that of the power forward. If they do, though, get Hairston, I think he'd plug in immediately to the rotation at SG/SF.
I think this team has a chance to be very good. I think Fey and Hollins will be better. Not drastically better, but improved. I think Mata will push them for minutes. Hopefully Ariza will come back with 15 more pounds of muscle. I think the wings will really push Thompson -- and either he'll respond or get overtaken in playing time.
While the situation could be a bit volatile, with veterans being pushed by freshmen, I think it will be a pretty clear-cut situation. I think Howland won't hesitate to play the youngsters if the veterans don't show effort -- and there won't be much controversy.
PG: Farmar, Freshman (Combo)
SG: Afflalo, Shipp, Freshman combo
SF: Ariza, Afflalo, Shipp
PF: Mata, Ariza, Sophomore, Freshman, McKinney
CL: Fey, Hollins, Mata, Freshman
This is, IMO, the potentially down year over the course of the next several.
I would be surprised if Ariza is here; I believe he'll try to go pro after his sophomore season. You take him, as a junior, out of this equation, the team could start four sophomores -- or possibly three sophomores and a freshman -- and one senior. I think they'll have talent, if they get the types of recruits I'm anticipating, but they'll be young. I think, though, that Mata's skills will have continued to develop enough that Howland is fine with him playing the four.
PG: Farmar, Soph Combo, FR
SG: Shipp, Soph Combo,
SF: Afflalo, FR
PF: Mata, Junior, McKinney, FR PF/C
C: Soph, Mata, FR PF/C
I think from this year on, UCLA will have it rolling.
They'll start probably four juniors, who have seen a lot of playing time over the last couple of years and will be veterans. Again, if they recruit the kind of talent I think they will, the talent among the sophs and freshmen on this team should be considerable. It will be the kind of talent, IMO, that could push for starting time.
I think they'll have enough talent on the squad that they'll be able to save at least one ride for the next year.
PG: Farmar, Junior Combo, Soph
SG: Shipp, Junior Combo
SF: Afflalo, Soph, King
PF: Mata, Senior, Soph PF/C, King
C: Junior, Mata, Frosh
Hopefully Jordan Farmar will still be here.
If he is, this is a huge year. You'll have Farmar, Shipp, Afflalo and Mata all as seniors (and that's not counting if Hairston comes, instead of the other power forward that could come in with that class, which is included above).
I think, besides King, UCLA will have at least another scholarship to give to the 2007 class, and possibly more. Scholarships always open up.
I think, from this time on, UCLA is picking and choosing recruits. I think they can go literally 10-12 deep. I think they'll get players to walk on that are better than many of the scholarship players on the team right now.
Making a prediction right now, though, I'd say that Farmar, Afflalo and Co. will be remembered as the class that started the UCLA resurrection...-- Tracy Pierson
Mata played well against the top guys in the summer. Without his play against Dwight Howard and and Randolph Morris, Pump 'N Run probably doesn't beat the Atlanta Celtics in the Best of Summer tournament.
Mata is a better player, right now, than either Fey or Hollins. Much more aggressive, moves better, better hands and more skilled. He is only 6-8 to 6-9, so he's not quite as tall, but he's got a much better feel for the game than Fey and Hollins.
Keep in mind that Fey and Hollins will have the benefit of experience in the system -- and getting coached by Howland -- so either one could be markedly improved by next November. -- Greg Hicks