Collison to Return For SR Year

UCLA junior guard Darren Collison chose a different route than his three teammates, deciding to pass on the NBA draft entirely and return for his senior season to Westwood. Collison and head coach Ben Howland just spoke with the media about his decision...

Darren Collison, UCLA's starting point guard for the past two Final Four teams and Pac-10 championship squads, announced in a teleconference today that he would be returning to UCLA for his senior season.

Collison and UCLA head coach Ben Howland spoke with the media on Saturday to discuss Collison's decision.

Opening Statement:

First I'd like to thank my parents for helping me make this decision and Coach Howland while I was contemplating that decision. The NBA has always been a dream and when I go, I want to go big. Therefore, I have decided that I will return for my senior year and continue in my quest for an NCAA Championship.

On why he came back:
I felt that it was my chance to do something special my senior year. I'm loyal to this program. It's all about the love of the game. The NBA is not going anywhere. I enjoy the college thing. I want to win a championship my senior year. I would gain so much more coming back.

The biggest thing is that people look at the guys that were leaving early. When guys do stay for their junior and senior year, that's a concern and I don't think that's fair. Brandon Roy and Acie Law were a big part of their programs by staying for their senior years.

I didn't want it to be about my performance against Memphis or the people who put their name in the draft. This is totally my decision. But I definitely would like to end it another way.

I'm not too far away (from my degree) and when I do get my degree, I'll be proud and my parents will too.

On what he needs to do to improve his stock:
I think it's a proven fact that where my game stands, I need to put in a medium range jump shot. Now I'm trying to make it real solid. A lot of teams needed a point guard, and they had me rated as one of the top point guards, which made my decision even harder. I wasn't going to test the waters. If I was going to go, I was going to go. I don't need the money. I love the game. Hearing where I was going to be projected, that was the most difficult.

On the incoming freshman:
I'm pretty excited. I was in a win-win situation and now I get to play with a good freshman class. Even if we didn't have a lot of guards, you always want to compete. My concern is winning.

On when he decided to come back:
It was up into this last week. It just happened this week that I really put some thought into it. It wasn't an indecisive decision. It was 100% sure I was coming back.

Ben Howland's Comments:

Well with Darren returning it gives us an all-American at our point guard, so that's pretty good. He was the MVP of the Pac-10 tournament and should have been first-team all Pac-10. They say the most important person on the floor is your point guard.

When the season ended, it was so hard for me to project that all out. There was a good chance he'd leave. No question if Darren came out this year, he'd be a first round draft pick. He told me ‘if I put my name in, I'm gone and I'll do great in the workouts.

It's going to be great for UCLA and great for him. It tears me up hearing him talk about his legacy and his loyalty to UCLA, and trust me, it will be very special.

The thing that's great about Darren, believe me, he's going to work. He's my favorite type of person in that all he cares about is his family and basketball. He doesn't have many interest, he doesn't care about cars, he doesn't care about clothes. He's fiercely proud of his family, Etiwanda, the Inland Empire, UCLA and being a UCLA Bruin.

What this will do is give us an opportunity, I think, with the freshman class, where we can really extend our defense and force the tempo of the game, with our quickness and our length.

Darren's been a part of three Final Fours and as a freshman, he was key in the Gonzaga comeback, the Memphis win and the win at Cal that clinched the championship. He's had a great career thus far. If Russell (Westbrook) came back, we'd do more pick and roll for them.

On Josh Shipp:
He has until tomorrow night and 9:00 pacific time to make his decision.

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