James Keefe Signs NLI
James Keefe, a 6-8, 220-pound forward from Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Rancho Santa Margarita) who is considered one of the nation's top-rated power forwards entering his senior high school season, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA, Bruin head coach Ben Howland announced Wednesday. Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period that extends until Nov. 16.
Under head coach Jerry DeBusk, Keefe led the Eagles in March to a second consecutive CIF Southern Section Div. III-AA Championship (28-5 overall), averaging 17.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots. Santa Margarita Catholic HS advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern California Regionals (Div. III) as Keefe earned State Junior Player of the Year honors and was first-team All-Serra League.
"I'm elated that James is joining our program," said Howland. "He's an outstanding player, a great person and an excellent student. James plays hard, is an outstanding rebounder, a good defender and plays very intelligently. His attitude and work ethic are going to help him improve and get better and better year-in and year-out."
A recent first-team Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West Selection, Keefe is rated the No. 27 high school player in the nation by Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Top 100.
Entering 2005-06, his other preseason prep honors include – Street & Smith All-American (second team), The Sporting News' No. 36 player in the U. S., Scout.com No. 37 player in the U. S. (No. 11 power forward in the U. S.) and Athlon Sports No. 38 player in the U. S.
Last summer, Keefe participated in the Gibbons' Memorial Weekend Tournament, playing for the title-winning Southern California All-Stars. He also played in the adidas All-America Camp in Suwanee, GA and with his high school team in the Reebok Las Vegas Big Time Tournament (an all-tourney choice) in July.
"Keefe puts as much energy and focus into his performance while screening for teammates and playing defense, as he does when the ball is in his possession," said Frank Burlison, national basketball columnist for Scout.com, long-time sportswriter for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and a member of the USBWA Hall of Fame. "He'll need to make fewer adjustments, especially on defense, than almost any other player in the class to be an immediate contributor in college. Keefe has been extremely well-coached by Jerry DeBusk and should make an immediate impact with the Bruins, perhaps even as a starter at some point during his freshman season."
Sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar – suffered a right groin strain in practice on Thursday (Oct. 27) and was held out of practice for five days (Thursday-Tuesday, the Bruins did not practice on Sunday, Oct. 30). After Tuesday's (Nov. 1) examination, Farmar, who had shown significant improvement, continued to strengthen and receive treatment. He did not practice or play the rest of the week and did not play in UCLA's exhibition game vs. Carleton (Friday, Nov. 4). Farmar was cleared to resume practice on Monday (Nov. 7).
Sophomore guard Arron Afflalo – suffered a left quadricep contusion on Oct. 29. He was listed as day-to-day, resumed practice on Nov. 3 and started in UCLA's exhibition game vs. Carleton on Nov. 4.
Freshman forward Alfred Aboya – had a left knee arthroscopic procedure on Oct. 12 (on Nov. 3, it will be three weeks since his surgery). Aboya was re-evaluated on Nov. 2 and he will not have any basketball activity for the next two weeks.
Senior center Michael Fey – before the start of practice (Oct. 14), was diagnosed with a severe groin strain (it has been five weeks/35 days since the diagnosis). He remained out of practice, improved and continued to rehab. On Tuesday (Nov. 8), Fey was cleared for a one hour workout (once a day/he worked out this morning). "After his workout this morning, he had no noticeable pain," Bruin head coach Ben Howland said. "Hopefully, Michael can continue this pattern for the next couple of days and possibly even practice on Saturday."
Freshman guard/forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – before the start of practice (Oct. 14) was diagnosed with sprained right shoulder. He returned to full-time practice status on Oct. 22 and started for the Bruins in their exhibition game vs. Carleton (Nov. 4).
Sophomore forward Josh Shipp – on Sept. 28, had an arthroscopic right hip procedure. During his initial rehabilitation, he was on crutches for almost a month (came off of crutches on Oct. 26). Shipp is approximately six-seven weeks away from playing.
Redshirt Freshman Walkon Joey Ellis – On Oct. 7, had a left knee arthroscopic procedure and could be out for 12 weeks.
Bruin Head Coach Ben Howland:
"Obviously the rash of injuries has been frustrating for the players involved and our team. But, as I've said before, if we had to have injuries – better now, than in mid-December when we open the conference.
"The fact that some players will not open the season- will give significant playing time and experience to others, which should pay off down the road.
"By Dec. 1, we hope that all our players, with the exception of Josh Shipp, will be participating in practice as our team moves forward to becoming full strength."