Malcolm Lee To Forego Senior Season
Head Coach Ben Howland announced today that Lee will hire an agent and withdraw from school.
The Official UCLA Men's Basketball website
April 12, 2011
LOS ANGELES - UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland announced today that Malcolm Lee will immediately withdraw from school and will hire an agent, forfeiting the remainder of his NCAA eligibility.
"After speaking to my family, I have carefully weighed all of my options, and at this time, I have decided to hire an agent and withdraw from my classes," Lee said. "My three years at UCLA were the best time of my life. I will miss my teammates, coaches, faculty, friends and all of the great fans at UCLA. I have had a lot of fun being a Bruin and I appreciate everything Coach [Ben] Howland has done for me. I am very proud to be a Bruin and I will always call this place home. My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I think that this is the best time for me to try and make that a reality."
Lee was second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game (14th in the Pac-10) and finished fourth in rebounding at 3.1 rpg. He also averaged 2.0 assists and 0.7 steals per game in 2010-11 and was named First Team All-Pac-10 this season as well as to the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team.
He scored a season-high 25 points in a home win over Oregon (Feb. 10, 2011) and scored 20 or more points five times this season. His free-throw percentage of .778 (112-of-144) was second on the team and ranked 11th in the Pac-10.
"Malcolm Lee gave a tremendous amount to this program over his three years here," Howland said. "I'm really proud of how he has improved each year as a player. He's one of the best kids I have ever had the pleasure to coach in terms of attitude, work ethic and commitment to the team. I'm very proud of everything he has accomplished in his tenure at UCLA. We wish him the very best in his pursuit of a professional career."
UCLA leads the country in NBA Draft selections with 106 and has had 10 players drafted in the last seven years of the NBA Draft during Coach Howland's tenure. Additionally, six Bruins have been drafted in the first round in the Howland era, including 2011 NBA All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, who were drafted as back-to-back lottery picks (fourth and fifth, respectively) in the 2008 NBA Draft. During the 2010-11 NBA season, nine of Coach Howland's players started at least 15 games in the league with six of them (Arron Afflalo, Trevor Ariza, Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, Love and Westbrook) being a permanent starter.
Malcolm Lee getting agent for draft
By Peter Yoon
Updated: April 12, 2011, 9:18 PM ET
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee will forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft with an agent, Bruins coach Ben Howland confirmed Tuesday.
Lee, 6-foot-5, had previously announced he was only testing the waters of the NBA draft without an agent, thus preserving his NCAA eligibility, but he said Tuesday that he changed his mind.
"After speaking to my family, I have carefully weighed all of my options, and at this time, I have decided to hire an agent and withdraw from my classes," Lee said in a statement. "My dream has always been to play in the NBA and I think that this is the best time for me to try and make that a reality."
Lee averaged 13.1 points for the Bruins last season and is considered one of the top perimeter defenders in the nation. He earned All Pac-10 and Pac-10 All-defensive team honors, but is thought by many to be a year away from being NBA ready.
An NBA front office source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lee would go in the second round at best and could go undrafted. ESPN.com's Chad Ford has him ranked as the No. 73 prospect in the country.
However, Howland said his NBA front-office sources have indicated that Lee would go in the second round, which carries some risk because second-round picks don't figure as prominently as first-round picks in the plans of the drafting team.
"So his thing right now is to try to do a great job in his preparation so that he can try to get himself ready and try to get himself into the first round," Howland said.
Complicating matters is the surgery Lee had to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on March 22. Lee is still rehabilitating the injury and Howland said he is still at least three weeks away from being able to play at pre-surgery levels.
Howland said he advised Lee to come back to school to try and improve his draft status and spoke with Lee's family, but ultimately Lee had the final say.
"In my opinion, I thought that would have been in his best interest," Howland said. "Obviously that is what's best for UCLA basketball, but I honestly, in my heart, really believed that with all the factors that was in his best interest."
Lee's departure is the second this offseason for the Bruins, following Tyler Honeycutt's exit on March 29. The Bruins had been projected as a preseason top-10 team next season, but the losses of Lee and Honeycutt tempers expectations.
"I really believe that if we had both of them back we would have had a chance to challenge, no question, in that category," Howland said.
Howland said Lee plans to move to Las Vegas and begin his pre-draft workouts as he rehabs his knee.
Still, Howland has reason for optimism. Twins David Wear and Travis Wear, 6-foot-10 transfers from North Carolina, will be eligible, and incoming freshman guard Norman Powell will help fill the void left by Lee. Also, Howland said he would announce another signing -- expected to be City College of San Francisco transfer De'End Parker, another 6-foot-5, athletic guard.
Forward Reeves Nelson, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, will be back, as will 6-foot-10, 305-pound center Joshua Smith, who is primed to become the top big man in the country as a sophomore next season.
"I'm very, very optimistic and excited about our team next year," Howland said. "We're going to be very young. We're going to have a very formidable front line."
UCLA basketball: Malcolm Lee to forgo senior season, enter NBA draft
By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
April 12, 2011 | 5:55 pm
There was no stopping UCLA's best defender Tuesday, when Malcolm Lee announced he would forgo his final year of college eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
After learning last week that the junior guard was leaning toward leaving, Bruins Coach Ben Howland said he advised Lee in multiple conversations that he thought it was in Lee's best interest to remain in college. The coach said his sources in NBA general managers' offices project Lee to be drafted in the second round.
True to form for a lockdown defender, Lee wouldn't budge in his stance.
"My dream has always been to play in the NBA," Lee said in a statement, "and I think that this is the best time for me to try and make that a reality."
Howland did not conceal his disappointment in Lee's decision not to heed his advice.
"Obviously, it's what's best for UCLA basketball," Howland said of Lee returning for his senior season. "But honestly in my heart, with all the factors, I thought that was also in his best interest."
By departing early, Lee probably put a halt to some of the high expectations for the Bruins next season. Projected as a top-10 team by some pundits had everyone returned, UCLA must now replace two of its top three scorers with Lee and sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt having opted to leave.
"I really believe that if we had both of them back," Howland said, "we would have had a chance to challenge, no question, in that category."
Making Lee's draft prospects all the more precarious is the fact that he is only three weeks removed from surgery on his left knee. Howland said Lee would not be back to full strength for two or three weeks, and it may take longer than that for him to recapture the form he showed prior to the injury he suffered during UCLA's regular-season finale March 5.
A potential NBA lockout could also deprive Lee of the opportunity to showcase his skills in summer league play. Howland said Lee, who averaged 13.1 points last season, had already withdrawn from school and was moving to Las Vegas to begin organized workouts.
"His thing right now is to try to do a great job in his preparation getting ready so he can try and get himself into the first round," Howland said.
With Lee gone, UCLA will turn to freshman Tyler Lamb and newcomer Norman Powell at shooting guard next season. City College of San Francisco guard De'End Parker, who is expected to sign a letter of intent Wednesday with UCLA, could also receive playing time at that spot.
But whoever assumes Lee's role will likely draw comparisons -- for better or worse -- to a player whom Howland labeled the best defender in the Pacific 10 Conference after flustering the likes of Brigham Young's Jimmer Fredette and Michigan State's Kalin Lucas.
"He can go into a game right now in the NBA and guard a one or a two [point guard or shooting guard] as well as anybody this year coming out of college," Howland said of Lee. "... Malcolm knows he's a good player and he really wants to take this step now and I have to respect that."