Dijon Thompson: Dijon played, but not very hard, as his team coasted to a 30-point victory. He didn't really do anything of note except hit a legitimate 27-foot shot late in the lopsided game. Talk about pouring it on. He had 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers. Dijon's assist total is more a reflection of the opposing team's porous defense than any playmaking acumen on his part. At 6-7 and 210+, I expect Dijon to see action at both the 3 and the 4 this season. It will be interesting to see if Dijon's lethargic personality responds to the demands Coach Howland will place on him early in the season.
Mike Fey: I expect Mike to be the most improved of the returning players on UCLA this season. At 7-0 and 250+, he presents the largest post presence in the Pac-10. He is clearly displaying more strength, improved conditioning, better court awareness and better hands than he's shown in the past. These are attributes that can't be distorted by the vagaries of summer league play. The range on his jumper extends to 17 feet and he takes up space in the lane, a quality which endeared him to Coach Howland last year and will only do more so this season . He still has his limitations: A mechanical feel for the game limits his abilities as a defensive rebounder; he's often caught boxing out and flat-footed instead of playing the arc of the shot. He isn't explosive off his feet. He doesn't have a strong post move going to his right. He finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in one game and 26 points and 6 rebounds in a second game.
The freshmen won an exciting game, 76-74, over a squad comprised of 6-3 Blake Walker of Portland State and a bunch of D II players, all of whom played their high school ball in the Inland Empire and none of whom were taller than 6-4, so it wasn't much of a test for the BruBabes. At one time, the babies were down by 19 points and they outscored their opponents 44-25 in the second half, dominating the paint.
Arron Afflalo: Arron continues to display an outstanding jump shot, excellent one-on-one skills and a strong back to the basket game, as well as the ability to really get out and run on the break. His defense needs work, but his size, strength and athleticism can enable him to become a top-notch defender. He was 9-16 from the field and finished with 27 points and 9 rebounds. Arron is the best of the incoming freshmen and could score in double figures this season regardless of whether he starts. This is one terrific ballplayer (with a good academic profile to boot) and Howland should get some serious props for recruiting him to UCLA.
Jordan Farmar: Jordan continues to demonstrate that in this league no one can guard him; neither can he guard anyone else. Strength will come with time; in the meantime, he'd better improve his defensive stance unless he wants High D-1 guards to eat him alive out there. Just a great playmaker, one mental step ahead of everyone else on the court and outstanding body control driving into the lane. Jordan had 15 points and 11 assists in this game. His ball knowledge enables him to disrupt passing lanes with skill, but those defensive limitations may keep him out of the starting lineup for at least the start of the season. He just needs to step it up against the higher class of athletes he will be facing in college and could go through some growing pains. He hasn't shot the ball well from the outside this summer, but that doesn't seem to be an issue. Another gem in an outstanding recruiting class, Jordan is the most pure point guard to enter the program since Pooh Richardson.
Josh Shipp: Dang, he reminds me of Billy Knight coming out of high school. A scorer rather than a shooter, who really scraps for every rebound and loose ball and scores off a lot of old school moves. Like Jordan, Josh does a great job of playing passing lanes but has a hard time staying in front of anyone. Needs to put on weight and regain confidence in his outside shot, but he could be a superior scorer down the road. 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals on Saturday. He's at least 6-5 and might be on his way to 6-6 and should see a little time off the bench this year up front.
Lorenzo Mata: The dangerous puppy displayed his potential by crashing the defensive glass in the second half and getting a key dunk off an offensive rebound as well. He is somewhere between 6-8 and 6-9 and that makes him taller than most college post players these days and I think he'll make an impact for the Bruins this season in the paint. He'll also throw up some air balls from 5 feet out, turn it over and forget what plays are being run, but that's why he's still a puppy. Plays with great energy and should become a fan favorite early on. 5 points and 10 rebounds this weekend. The new five-year eligibility rule will really help here if it applies to players already enrolled in school when (and if) it's implemented.
Janou Rubin: Janou had trouble with his ballhandling and passing, but finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds. He's been a good, solid player this summer, taking more of a subordinate role to the freshmen than he did in this league last year, when he was one of the top scorers. I think he'll see some situational minutes where his strength, size (6-2, 190) and experience will help, but he'll find it hard to see consistent minutes this season in what has become a very deep Bruin backcourt.
Matt McKinney: 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks this weekend. He's definitely a more physical presence in the paint than he has been in the past, looks like he's maybe 6-7 and 220. Quick hops, tough on the offensive glass and a good midrange game. Not likely to make a big impact on the defensive side of the ball in the paint, but he looks like a willing banger who will commit some fouls and challenge shots. I can see Matt beating out Josiah Johnson for some spot time off the bench, but both players will be somewhere in the 9-10 range in overall playing time this season.
Cedric Bozeman: Ced has had his first healthy summer since high school and looks like he's regained the explosive quickness which made this 6-6 guard an All-American in high school. He's been regularly blowing by 6-0 guard with dribble moves and slamming home lob passes from Marcus Williams this summer. He still plays with supports on his knees and his health will remain an issue of concern for his last season at UCLA. He still has a sling-like set shot and probably won't wow anyone with his outside shooting, but if he stays healthy his improved quickness will force teams to play him more honestly regardless. I expect Ced will see action at both guard and forward this season. He had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists this weekend and the Pac-10 leader in assists from last season probably won't just sit down because the freshmen are on the scene. This should be an interesting season and Howland could have some real chemistry problems on his hands if he doesn't handle his players right. Ced has the body to set the screens Howland likes, I'd say he's at a svelte 205 right now.
Oddly enough, the Bruins still don't seem like a quick team even after this latest recruiting class. I don't see any extended pressing this year. And it's a good thing Howland got Darren Collison…
One last note: It's refreshing to see the turnout from Bruin fans for the freshmen games. The program seems to be on an upswing already from the standpoint of fan interest.