Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So Cal Basketball power brokers David and Dana Pump allegely orchestrated a ticket scalping operation going back to 2002

David and Dana Pump (David Crane, Special to Yahoo! Sports)

Wow, who would have thonk, two articles, back-to-back, on twins.

bruinjake posted this article on Bruin Zone. This is big. I've been to a few Pump Brothers events in So Cal back in the late 90's and they were definitely power brokers in high school hoops back then. Pretty sure they're even more powerful now. Will be interesting how this shakes out.

Ticket scandal rocks Kansas

By Jason King, Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
May 26, 2:07 am EDT

Also in this article: Timeline Cast of characters

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A high-ranking member of the University of Kansas athletic department and the father of a prominent Jayhawks athlete allegedly made more than $800,000 in a ticket scalping operation that was orchestrated by college basketball power brokers David and Dana Pump, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

The scope, breadth and duration of the scalping business – which included Big 12 and NCAA tournament tickets – extended beyond Kansas to other schools, a source told federal authorities.

David Freeman, a Lawrence real estate developer who said he participated in the scheme, told Yahoo! Sports that he, former Kansas director of ticket operations Rodney Jones and high-profile alum Roger Morningstar – the father of Jayhawks guard Brady Morningstar – were following the instructions of the Pump brothers when the trio made hundreds of thousands of dollars scalping tickets during the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments.

On Wednesday, KU announced the findings of an internal investigation into ticket improprieties, disclosing that six university employees engaged in a scam that sold off more than $1 million in basketball and football tickets over the past five years.

Freeman said the California-based Pumps – who advise schools on coaching hires and run traveling summer teams across the country – were conducting similar operations with colleges around the nation and often scalped tickets they received from college head coaches.

“It’s about time everyone heard the real story,” Freeman said in a phone interview two weeks ago. “It’s time everyone heard the truth.”

Reached by phone Tuesday night, David Pump declined to comment. Dana Pump could not be reached.

Freeman, who has a pair of drug convictions on his record from 1989, was scheduled to begin an 18-month jail sentence Thursday on an unrelated bribery charge. However, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday that Freeman’s reporting date has been delayed 30 days. The FBI, IRS and U.S. Attorney’s office all declined comment for this story.

Freeman first divulged the details of the ticket scalping in an interview with a current Yahoo! Sports reporter during the summer of 2006. He repeated the story to federal agents during multiple interviews within the last year, a source said. Both Freeman and his lawyer refused further comment for this story, citing the ongoing federal probe.

In the wake of Freeman’s statements, the FBI and IRS launched an investigation into Kansas’ ticket office and fundraising departments earlier this year. The school responded by placing Jones – who in 2004 was promoted to director of the Williams Fund, the primary fundraising arm of the athletic department – on administrative leave. He eventually resigned.

Jones declined to comment on the allegations.

In response to the federal investigation, KU hired a Wichita-based law firm to conduct an internal review. The probe found that at least 17,069 men’s basketball tickets and 2,181 football tickets and parking passes were sold or used by KU employees for personal reasons. The investigation found the losses could be as much as $3 million. Jones, Ben Kirtland, associate athletics director for development; Charlette Blubaugh, director of ticket operations; Brandon Simmons, assistant athletics director for sales and marketing; and Jason Jeffries, assistant director of ticket operations were named in the KU investigation as being involved. All are no longer employed by the university. Tom Blubaugh, Charlette’s husband who served as a consultant to the KU athletics department, was also named in the probe. Investigators recommended civil charges against all six.

“I accept responsibility because I’m the athletic director and this happened under my watch,” KU AD Lew Perkins said Wednesday. “It’s not easy to learn that people you trusted let you down. We thought we had every safeguard in place. Nobody picked up on it. I certainly didn’t. It caught me totally off-guard.”

The federal prosecution of scalping typically arises from two areas: the unauthorized sale of tickets for a profit over face value, and the failure to report financial gains on income tax returns. Potential federal and state charges could include theft, tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes.

According to Freeman, the ticket scalping operation at KU began when the Pumps contacted Roger Morningstar – Freeman’s former business partner – in the winter of 2002 and asked him if he knew how to obtain extra Kansas postseason basketball tickets. The Pumps promised him that a significant amount of money could be earned by selling the seats at a price above face value.

Roger Morningstar knew that Jones, who was an assistant ticket manager at the time, was one of Freeman’s close friends, so he told Freeman to ask Jones if he was interested in participating, Freeman said.

“[Roger] was told he could make a ton of money moving tickets,” Freeman said. “So he comes to me and says, ’ Hey, I know you know Rodney [Jones] really well.’”

Freeman said Jones agreed to participate, and the first round of scalping began during the Big 12 tournament, which took place at Kemper Arena in Kansas City in 2002. Freeman said he contacted the Pumps, who were looking for tickets in the lower level, between the baselines and only in the first 10 rows.

“We didn’t mess with anything other than lower level,” Freeman said. “Rodney told me what else he had left and I called the Pumps and told them. They said, ‘We’ll take them all. We’ll take every one of them.’”

Freeman said he believed Jones was getting the tickets from the Kansas allotment, and selling whatever hadn’t been purchased through the KU ticket office. According to an NCAA spokesperson, schools are expected to create their own system of tracking the dispersal of postseason tickets. However, according to the NCAA’s ticket policy, “It is a violation of tournament policy to sell any substantial allocation (more than eight) of tickets directly in exchange for a donation or payment to the athletic department, institution, or related entities.”

Freeman said Jones assured him the university was getting paid back for the tickets.

Freeman also said he believed Jones may have been getting additional tickets through the ticket managers of other Big 12 teams. Freeman said his job was to get the tickets from Jones and then deliver predetermined amounts to buyers waiting in hotel rooms.

“[Rodney] gave me the tickets and then I took them to the Pumps and they gave me the money,” Freeman said. “They were in a hotel, the Sheraton on the Plaza [in Kansas City]. They had rooms all over the place because they had all these guys running tickets. … I was either taking them to the Pumps or whoever they directed me to take them to.

“Roger never wanted to go get [the tickets] from Rodney. Once we had the tickets, Roger [at the direction of the Pumps] would say, ‘Take these 10 here and these 20 here and then we’ll come back and count the money.’”

Freeman said the financial gain started out relatively small in this first run, with the Big 12 tickets yielding around $40,000. Freeman said Jones took a $20,000 cut, while Freeman and Roger Morningstar split $20,000 evenly.

When Yahoo! Sports approached Roger Morningstar at his Lawrence residence, he said because of ongoing “legal issues” he had been advised by his lawyer not to speak about Freeman. When asked if he was aware Freeman had also spoken to the federal authorities about the Pump brothers’ alleged involvement in scalping tickets from the KU ticket office, Roger Morningstar shrugged.

“That’s old news,” he said. “That’s all old news.”

Freeman said the scalping continued through the ensuing 2002 NCAA tournament. He said the dollar amounts and tickets grew exponentially at the Final Four in Atlanta that year, with the sale of “books” of tickets. Books included one ticket for each semifinal game, and one ticket for the national championship.

Shortly after arriving at that Final Four, Freeman said he was summoned to the team hotel by Jones, who handed him 20 books of tickets. Freeman said he took the tickets to a buyer, who paid him $3,000 per book – or $60,000 total. Later that evening, Freeman said Jones called him again and told him he had obtained another 20 books.

“He said ‘Come get ‘em,’” Freeman said.

Freeman said that once Kansas lost to Maryland in the semifinal game, they were awash with tickets for the national championship, as hundreds of Kansas alumni were looking to get rid of their title game seats. He said Jones contacted him and told him he had more tickets to move before the national championship. The going rate: $1,500 each. Freeman said he delivered the tickets to buyers staying at the Hilton, the Hyatt and another hotel in downtown Atlanta.

“There was a ton of them,” Freeman said of the tickets. “We made a half-million dollars [that weekend]. I got on the MARTA with $200,000 in each pocket. It was all in one-hundred dollar bills. Every $10,000 had a paper clip and they were rolled up.

“I met Rodney at the service door behind the Marriott in Buckhead. I counted out [his share] right there: 200 grand.”

Pressed for details on who he was delivering the tickets to in the hotel rooms, Freeman refused.

“Not going there,” Freeman said. “One of them was about 250 pounds and he [expletive] talked like [he had a New Jersey accent]. You seen Goodfellas? I don’t know who the [expletive] they were. I can honestly tell you, I don’t know who the [expletive] they were. It was ‘This is the room you go to, this is the guy you need to see.’ There were no [expletive] names. The door would open and a guy would be standing there with a gun. You walk in, do the deal and you’re out.”

Freeman said the process was repeated again in 2003 for the Big 12 tournament in Dallas, the West Regional in Anaheim and the Final Four in New Orleans. In this case, other schools’ ticket managers, who Freeman alleged had been contacted by Jones about securing and scalping their tickets, were increasingly involved. But because Kansas advanced to the championship game, it created a greater demand by alumni. Freeman alleged the group made less than the previous year – about $300,000.

The KU internal investigation found that scalping from inside the Kansas ticket office stretched beyond 2003.

Published reports also indicate impropriety in a season ticket ranking “points system” for Kansas basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse. The system, which was created and spearheaded by Perkins after his hiring at Kansas in the spring of 2003, established a way to prioritize the quality of season tickets available to alumni. The system is based on a multitude of factors – most prominently including financial donations to the school’s athletic department. The larger the donations, the higher the priority alumni receive for season tickets.

But recent reports have profiled donors who are dissatisfied with the system’s shrouded points formula, as well as allegations of prime seats in Allen Fieldhouse ending up on online auction sites or in the hands of ticket brokers.

Since their alleged involvement with the KU scalping ring, the Pumps’ influence has continued to grow throughout college basketball. Their activities include scalping tickets obtained from coaching staffs, hosting a well-known and lavish annual charity retreat for coaches and athletic directors and operating “ChampSearch” – a consulting firm retained by universities looking to hire new head basketball coaches. Simultaneously, the Pumps finance multiple elite traveling summer basketball teams that showcase recruits, some of whom have ended up with the programs that the Pumps do business with.

Roger Morningstar has coached some of those summer traveling teams, one of which included his son, Brady, who committed to Kansas in 2006. Since Jones, Freeman and Roger Morningstar allegedly engaged in scalping tickets through the Pump brothers in 2002, summer traveling teams financed by the Pump brothers have featured at least nine players who went on to play for the Jayhawks. Among them were nationally recruited players Mario Chalmers, David Padgett, Omar Wilkes, Tyrel Reed, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Brady Morningstar.

Chalmers’ father, Ronnie, also coached the Pump brothers’ summer traveling team in Alaska, before being hired as the director of basketball operations at KU in 2005. He eventually resigned that position in 2008. And the sons of head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Danny Manning – Tyler Self and Evan Manning – are both currently listed on the rosters of the Pump brothers’ summer traveling teams. Coach Bill Self and Perkins have attended the Pumps’ annual retreat held for coaches and administrators.

Contact Yahoo! Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson at


June 30, 2009 – Lawrence. Kan., developer David Freeman pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, for his part in a federal bribery case against former Junction City Commissioner Mick Wunder. As part of a proffer agreement reached with federal prosecutors – and in hopes of decreasing his own sentence in the bribery case – Freeman also provides information about a ticket scalping operation involving NCAA Final Four and University of Kansas basketball tickets, including potential tax evasion, theft, money laundering and other possible crimes. A source familiar with the investigation confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that Freeman tied multiple individuals to the scalping operation, including college sports entrepreneurs David and Dana Pump, KU athletics department employee Rodney Jones, and former KU basketball star Roger Morningstar, the father of current Jayhawks guard Brady Morningstar.

February, 2010 – KU ticket office manager Charlette Blubaugh resigns.

March 9, 2010 – KU places athletic department employee Rodney Jones on administrative leave. Jones, the school’s former ticket manager, was promoted in 2004 to director of the Williams Fund – the fundraising branch of KU’s athletic department.

March 24, 2010 – The University of Kansas announces it has hired a Wichita-based firm to do an independent investigation of the school’s ticket office and athletic fundraising in the Williams Fund.

April 5, 2010 – Ben Kirtland, the associate athletic director for development, resigns. Kirtland was the highest ranking athletic department employee overseeing the Williams Fund.

April 16, 2010 – Rodney Jones resigns.

April 22, 2010 – Lawrence developer David Freeman is sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in the Junction City bribery case. Afterward, Freeman’s lawyer, Carl Cornwell, reveals Freeman’s role in tipping federal authorities to ticket improprieties at KU. Kansas athletic department officials decline to comment.

April 30, 2010 – KU announces that two additional employees with ties to the ticket office have resigned: Brandon Simmons, assistant athletics director for sales and marketing, and Jason Jeffries, assistant director of ticket operations.

Cast of characters

Dana and David Pump – Usually referred to as “The Pumps,” the twin brothers are among the most powerful people in all of sports. Colleges often employ their “ChampSearch” consulting firm during coaching searches, and they’re also known for their youth basketball camps and their Pump N’ Run summer traveling basketball teams, many of which feature some of the most heavily recruited prospects in the nation. The Pumps have also made a significant amount of money by scalping Final Four tickets, a practice they’ve never denied.

Roger Morningstar – A starter on Kansas’ 1974 team, Morningstar worked for Converse Shoe Co. for 20 years before opening a youth sports facility in Lawrence. Morningstar has worked in the real estate development business, where he was once a business partner of Dave Freeman. Morningstar – the father of current Kansas basketball player Brady Morningstar – has also coached one of the Pump Brothers’ local summer traveling teams: KC Pump N’ Run.

Dave Freeman – In April, the Lawrence-based developer was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a bribery charge. In an attempt to decrease his sentence, Freeman provided federal agents with information regarding an NCAA tournament ticket scalping ring at the University of Kansas that was allegedly orchestrated in 2002 by The Pumps and Roger Morningstar and also involved Rodney Jones.

Rodney Jones – Kansas’ former ticket director joined the athletic department in 1997 and was promoted to director of the Williams Educational Fund in 2004. The WEF is the primary vehicle that Kansas boosters use to contribute money to the athletic department and acquire basketball tickets. An Oklahoma graduate, Jones was placed on administrative leave in March. He later resigned.

Charlette Blubaugh – A former assistant ticket manager at Oklahoma, Blubaugh replaced Jones as Kansas’ ticket director after Jones’ promotion in 2004. Blubaugh’s husband, Tom, is the former ticket manager at Oklahoma. Blubaugh resigned in February. Her name was featured prominently in the results of Kansas’ internal probe, which was released Wednesday. Blubaugh is now the executive administrative assistant to the athletic director at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Lew Perkins – Recently labeled as one of the top 35 sports executives in the world by Time Magazine, Perkins was hired as Kansas’ athletic director in the spring of 2003. Under Perkins, Kansas’ $27 million athletic budget has grown to $55 million. Perkins, however, has been unpopular with some Kansas boosters because of implementation of a “points system” at Allen Fieldhouse. Under the system, the best seats are awarded to the individuals who earn the most points. Points are based on monetary contributions to the Williams Educational Fund. Before his hiring at Kansas, Perkins was Connecticut’s athletic director from 1990-2003.

Brandon Simmons and Jason Jeffries – Each had ties to Kansas ticket office before resigning on April 30. Simmons was the assistant athletics director for sales and marketing. Jeffries was the assistant director of ticket operations.

Ben Kirtland – Kansas’ former associate athletic director for development resigned last month after federal law enforcement began looking into possible illegalities regarding ticket sales. Kirtland was ultimately responsible for all of the athletic department’s fundraising activities and also served as Jones’ main supervisor. Kirtland, who joined Kansas’ staff in 2004, worked for Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins when Perkins held the same title at Connecticut.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's official: David and Travis Wear joining UCLA Basketball

Wear Twins Sign Written Offer of Financial Aid To Attend UCLA

from the Official UCLA Men's Basketball website
May 25 2010

Brothers will redshirt in 2010-11 and have three seasons of eligibility

Sophomore forwards David and Travis Wear have signed written offers of financial aid and will attend UCLA this coming year, Bruin men's basketball head coach Ben Howland announced today.

The Wears (6-10, 230), who both earned McDonald's All-America honors at Mater Dei High School in Orange County, played this past season at North Carolina and received their releases earlier this month. They will redshirt in 2010-11 per NCAA rule and have three years of eligibility beginning in 2011-12.

"I am absolutely ecstatic about Dave and Travis joining our program," said Howland. "Both are outstanding players. They are highly-skilled good athletes who are hard workers and extremely motivated to be at their best. They are constantly working hard on their overall game.

"They are a great addition to our program, not only as players but as people. They come from a great family and from one of the best high school programs in the country in Mater Dei, coached by Gary McKnight."

Quotables: Ben Howland on the Wear transfers
By Jon Gold
Inside UCLA with Jon Gold
LA Daily News
on May 25, 2010 2:14 PM

Opening Statement:
"I'm just so excited, so happy, just elated about both David and Travis Wear signing their scholarship letters to attend UCLA. No. 1 fantastic players who are just going to be better and better because of their work ethic and drive to be great. But they're equally great kids, young men who represent the ideals of UCLA."

What position do you project them at for the Bruins?
"They're forwards, both very capable of stepping out to shoot out on the perimeter. David has even show the ability to match up sometimes with the three. They've been very well coached - we're talking about four years in the Mater Dei program. They really know how to play, how to defend. They did a great job of teaching defense. They're very versatile, we'll be able to play them in a lot of ways."

Talk about getting the Wears a year after you lost them to North Carolina:
"Obviously we were disappointed when we didn't get them originally. But I'm so thankful how things work out. You think now: They'll have one year to practice every day, getting bigger and stronger. We're looking forward to having them on campus this summer. You're talking about hitting the ground floor running - they're going to be hitting the ground floor sprinting. I just feel very, very good that this ended up. I've always thought the world of them, both as players and as young men."

The Wears said that some schools offered one but not the other, was that ever a thought?
"Absolutely not. I can't even imagine who did that. That blows me away. They're both really good, and they're very close, too. Identical twins, have a very close bond, really are supportive of each other. You're getting two really good players, not just one."

Can you tell them apart?
"Once you get to know people over years, even identical twins, you can tell them apart. Right now, David has longer hair than Travis. Even when they have the same exact length, I can tell them apart."

How will they help you this year when they have to redshirt?
"It's going to obviously help. That's how you get better. We've had really good teams here in the past, Darren Collison competing against Jordan Faramar, Russell Westbrook competing against Collison. When you have that level of competition in practice, that's how you get better day in and day out. Even though they won't be able to play this year, it really helps our team to have them every day."

Why do you think they left North Carolina?
"There's no place as living in Southern California. That to me is a no-brainer. You don't really learn that until you live in other parts of the country. I know they'll really be happy being close to home, close to mom and dad, close to friends."

EXCLUSIVE: David and Travis Wear on their transfer
By Jon Gold
Inside UCLA with Jon Gold
LA Daily News
on May 25, 2010 1:03 PM

Why the decision to come to UCLA now and not out of high school?
David: "I just feel like it's a great school with a great coach. I was looking for a school that was benefit me as a player, and as a student athlete. It wasn't so much (Howland's) pitch - originally I wanted to experience going away from home, playing for North Carolina, seeing what that was like. But seeing how much my family, my friends, my people support me, I missed that a lot. I miss being able to come home and see everyone."
Travis: "He basically summed it up right there - I was really intrigued with the idea of playing for North Carolina. I thought it was a great opportunity, but I did miss the support of our friends and our family out here. I did miss home."

What was the transfer process like? Tough to leave North Carolina?
"It was a great experience, no hard feelings at all - I made a lot of good friends there, I have a lot of respect for everyone back there. It was more a personal decision and a family decision than anything."

Was there any question you'd choose UCLA?
David: "Since UCLA was my No. 2 to start with, I feel like I had an idea of where I wanted to go. There were other options out there, but I wanted to stay in the West coast, stay in the Pac-10. It just so happened to be up the street. And they had two scholarships available, which was great."

Any apprehension given UCLA's past season?
David: "I feel like it's a great school with a historic program. Every school has their down years. My brother and I are both going to come in and do everything we can to contribute. It's going to be great to play with a former teammate Blake Arnet, and Tyler Lamb is going to be there also. They have a lot of talent on that team, and a great coach. I don't think it will take a lot to get it turned around. We have all the weapons, all the tools to do so."

How important is it to you to play with former high school and AAU teammates?
Travis: "I'm very excited about being a part of the nucleus over there. Being able to play with players I played with in high school is going to be a wonderful experience. I played with a lot of them growing up through the years."

How difficult will it be to sit out next season?
Travis: "It's going to be tough, but I'll have the opportunity to get bigger and stronger and work on my game. When I come back in, my first year of eligibility, I'll be that much better."

Was there any thoughts of splitting up?
David: "There were schools out there that offered to take one of us if the other didn't want to go. But we're comfortable playing together, and to have the opportunity to keep playing together is a great thing. We played together our whole lives."
Travis: "I don't think we've ever thought about splitting up. It was a given that we'd go the same place."

Welcome to UCLA, David and Travis!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Terrence Jones signs with Kentucky

That has got to hurt.

Terrence Jones signs with Kentucky

By Percy Allen
Seattle Times staff reporter
Originally published May 19, 2010 at 8:10 PM | Page modified May 19, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Kentucky 2, Washington 0.

The Wildcats reached across the country and into the Pacific Northwest, snatching yet another heralded recruit away from the Huskies.

Last month it was Turkish-born Enes Kanter, the five-star prospect, who verbally committed to UW in November.

On Wednesday, it was multiskilled Terrence Jones, the 6-foot-9 McDonald's All-American forward from Portland's Jefferson High, who pledged his loyalty to the Huskies on April 30 during a news conference at his school.

Flanked by his parents that day, Jones wore a black tuxedo and picked a black UW hat from a collection that included Kentucky, UCLA, Oregon, Kansas and Oklahoma.

A small gathering of family, friends and faculty erupted in cheers and no one was happier than his mother, Linda Mashia-Jones, and Terrence Ross, a longtime friend and former high school teammate, who signed with Washington.

Within minutes, the celebration grew somber because Jones chose not to sign a binding national letter of intent and he was visibly upset after a telephone conversation with Kentucky coach John Calipari.

Jones later said he called all five coaches of the schools he didn't choose.

Still, it was the talk with Calipari that moved him the most, according to Jones family members, and over the next three weeks he considered reneging on his commitment and choosing Kentucky.

Several of Jones' advisers, including Ross, Jefferson coach Pat Strickland and athletic director Mitch Whitehurst, believed Jones would remain committed to the Huskies.

Mashia-Jones reportedly said Jones took a trip to Washington and visited with coach Lorenzo Romar on Tuesday.

Speculation rose that Jones would sign with the Huskies on Wednesday night, however, the lure of the Wildcats' program was too much for Washington to overcome.

"Glitz and glamour won out," Strickland said.

Few teams can successfully recruit against a storied program such as UK, which attracts courtside celebrities such as actress Ashley Judd, musician Drake and NBA superstar LeBron James.

And few coaches recruit as aggressively as Calipari, one of the most charismatic coaches in the country.

"The way he recruits, he's like an agent," Ross said. "He's really, really good. Plus, he's a good coach."

Calipari's track record of producing NBA talent (Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall) is undeniable. Before securing Jones, the top recruiting services ranked Kentucky's incoming class among the top three in the country.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal and, Jones signed a nonbinding financial aid package just like Brandon Knight, another UK recruit. This approach allows both players to break the agreement and sign recruiting papers with another school without penalty.

Wednesday was the last day of the signing period for the 2010 class.

"I'm not sure there's many advantages — or any advantage — for a kid to sign a letter of intent this late in the game," recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "What if — I'm not saying this is going to happen — but what if John Calipari decided he wanted to leave?

"Then he (Jones) would have to go through the process of getting out of his letter of intent. So this could be a trend. We'll just have to wait and see."

The Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors continue to run rampant, so there's a chance Jones could end up at Washington.

For now, though, the Huskies must cope with losing the two-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year, which is a major recruiting defeat.

The Huskies end the recruiting season much like they began it: missing on a prized recruit. In November, Washington hoped to land Kentwood High star big man Joshua Smith who chose UCLA.

The Huskies signed Desmond Simmons, a 6-7 forward from Richmond, Calif., junior college transfer Aziz N'Diaye, a 7-foot center from Dakar, Senegal, and Ross.

Jones would have elevated a recruiting class described as "solid" into the top 25 in the country, Daniels said.

With Jones, the Huskies might have been the early preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 conference title and many believe they were poised to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Last year, UW (26-10) finished in the Sweet 16 and ranked No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

The team lost one starter, senior Quincy Pondexter, and two reserves, Elston Turner and Clarence Trent, who chose to transfer.

Several college basketball analysts rank Washington between No. 7-23 in preseason polls.

The higher rankings hinged upon the Huskies signing Jones, who is rated the eighth-best senior by He's ranked ninth by ESPNU and 13th by

Jones averaged 32 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as a senior while leading Jefferson to a third straight state championship last season.

He was expected to replace Pondexter in a lineup, but now a handful of players including Simmons will contend for the starting job.

Jones didn't return messages Wednesday, but in a post on his Twitter account he said: "Either way 1 fan base was gonna hate me ... sooo how much (would) u care?"

Washington could face Kentucky next season in the Maui Invitational in November.

The schools have never had much of a rivalry on the court, but they've clashed in the recruiting arena the past several weeks.

The Huskies and Wildcats will continue their recruiting feud in the coming months.

This time the prize is Garfield junior sensation Tony Wroten Jr., a top-five prospect and a bigger recruit than Jones and Kanter. Wroten lists UW and UK among his favorites.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

DIME Magazine: Russell Westbrook - Westbrook Boulevard

photos. Jeff Forney

Russell Westbrook: Westbrook Boulevard
By Jack Jensen
DIME Magazine
NBA / Apr 23, 2010 / 11:30 am

We’ve been high on the Thunder all season, but even we were impressed to see just how fast the young guns in Oklahoma City have put the pieces together. Coach Scott Brooks, GM Sam Presti and everyone in the organization have managed intelligently – and drafted high-character guys – to build a team that will challenge in the Western Conference for years to come. And after last night’s 101-96 statement win against the defending champs, they look poised to make some noise right now. Kevin Durant is going to consistently drop near 30 points a game, Jeff Green is far better than he’s given credit for and rookie Serge Ibaka is emerging as a defensive force in the post. But the key to the Thunder’s success is their second-year point guard, Russell Westbrook.

Three games into his first playoff series as a pro and Russ is averaging 23 and 5 – including the 27 and 4 he dropped last night. With the Thunder’s impressive win, it gave us an opportunity to highlight the young floor general a little more. In Dime #56, which is on newsstands now, I caught up with Westbrook and his confidants from high school, college and the pros to show just why the Thunder – and nation – are so giddy about this kid’s upside.

Westbrook Boulevard

Humility is a rare trait to finding swimming in the surplus of fame and NBA dollars. This is never more evident than in the City of Angels, where wealth and power is glorified to the masses. For second-year guard Russell Westbrook, a reserved and humble guy in his own right, L.A. is home. Gone from the West Coast only in body, Russ has now set up shop in a land far removed from the warmth and media monsters of Cali: Oklahoma.

Growing up in Los Angeles, you can either learn to adapt to its hustle and thrive, or be eaten alive by its people and by its streets. Life in L.A. runs on a sunshine state of mind; no disrespect to Jay, but this is the real concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Entertainment isn’t just a side project, it’s ingrained in the very fiber of the city. In what might as well be damn near across the globe, one of Hollywood’s own flesh and blood, Russell Westbrook, is turning Oklahoma – yeah, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains – into the NBA’s next hottest place to ball.

@russwest44: La La land goodmorning…..

It’s nearly Christmas and Russell has just arrived back home to face off against the Lakers for the third time this season; he’s been blowing up his Twitter feed with travel updates all week long. This is where he’s most comfortable, as this is where his family was built and where his passion for the game started. From high school in nearby Lawndale to college at UCLA in Westwood, Westbrook is more than proud to lay claim to his Southern California roots.

“I love L.A., I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” says Westbrook halfway through our conversation. Only immediately after we started jawing about life on the Left Coast, did I realize just how much Westbrook is truly passionate about this place.

He’s a fun and mellow guy for the most part – it’s pretty tough to rattle him – mirroring his attitude and demeanor on the hardwood. He’s also kept his nose clean in both the private and public eye, not always the easiest task coming up in L.A. where distractions lie on every street corner. Although Westbrook wasn’t raised on one of the city’s famous slew of rough blocks – he didn’t grow up in Watts or North Compton, nor in the thick of Inglewood – it was hardly tourist-friendly. But despite attending high school in a town that boasts itself in the 80th percentile in violent crimes statewide, Westbrook managed to keep his focus goal oriented and was able to bypass the negative temptations of his peers – thanks in large part to his tight-knit family.

“I would say Russell grew up the majority of his life, probably in South Central,” says Reggie Morris, his coach at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif. “Yeah, he grew up in a rough part [of town] but he had his mom and his dad and they always steered him straight.

“Russell’s always been probably the nicest kid I’ve ever been around. He’s a really tough kid, but he was really nice at the same time. That, and he’s the most coachable kid I’ve ever had too.”

“Just living with my parents and making the right decisions,” says Westbrook. “I mean that’s basically not going into different things, like going out too much. Just stay humble and continue to work on your game and get better.” At Leuzinger, Russell was able to do just that, while coasting largely under the national recruiting blanket.

As Morris remembers, Westbrook came to him a frail 5-9, 140-pound freshman who clearly had the potential for the collegiate level, but his outside package deterred possible suitors from taking a chance. (Kent State, San Diego and Loyola Marymount were the only schools recruiting him before senior year.) And in what everyone from Morris to former Bruins teammates Darren Collison, Kevin Love and Arron Afflalo all point to Westbrook as his greatest attributes, his attitude and work ethic, have helped evolve Russell from overlooked into NBA star.

“Russell has never really been a high profile guy, [until] now of course,” says Afflalo. “Anybody that loves the game and works at it like he does, is going to have some success.”

Success to date is an understatement. After finding his way to UCLA, it took only two years for the NBA to snatch Westbrook up from Westwood with the fourth overall selection in 2008 to Oklahoma City – the team’s first draft pick since displacing from Seattle. Used primarily as a shooting guard in college, few thought Russell could make such a smooth transition to successful League point guard; alas, the doubters were unaware of Westbrook’s relentless pursuit of improvement. As a rook last season, Westbrook averaged just over 15 and five a game, while also being named to the NBA All-Rookie team. As of press time in his second go-round, he is putting up 16 and 7.5 a game for the 31-22 Thunder. Growing up in Southern L.A. was one thing, but Westbrook’s new home would prove to be a much bigger challenge. To live and die in O.K.L.A.

@russwest44: On the bus ..omw too play the lakers…time too get it… Hit y’all after…

Russ rocks a new tune these days, one that’s more rooted in cowboys and tumbleweeds than the rhymes of Blu and Pac. In a state more associated with tornado drills than layup lines, the Thunder have created a loyal fan base and national identity thanks in large part to Westbrook and Co. Centered around a core of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, rookie James Harden and Westbrook, Oklahoma has gone from a virtual Lottery-lock, to potential playoff spoiler this season. Before GM genius Sam Presti gambled on selecting Westbrook over more coveted options in Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless in ’08, little connected the Oceanside guard with the nation’s 45th largest media market other than Route 66.

“Uh [there was] a little culture shock yeah. I mean the weather – I’ve never been in any snow – so that was a little different for me,” laughs Westbrook. “You know I had never witnessed cold weather like this.”

Cold aside, Westbrook has become a cornerstone of the Thunder’s franchise and a face to the community of Oklahoma City – which is more of a tech-savvy metropolitan than it’s given credit for (i.e. some writer claiming cowboys and tumbleweeds). That’s not to say he doesn’t try to bring a little West Coast flavor into the jugular of Middle America, “I mean I got to keep it West Coast,” he says. His entertaining personality is infectious and has spurred his teammates to become online video stars with multiple self-produced Twitter music lip syncs.

“He’s just a goofball, but Russell’s been great for us – especially off the court because he’s so laid back, so chill and considerate of other people; he’s just a nice guy,” says Durant. “And that’s something that you just don’t see in a lot of people, especially superstars in this league.”

The unique chemistry of the Thunder is evident in its production on the court; through 32 games last season, the Thunder went 3-29. They won 18 games in that same span this year. Before being drafted, the 6-3 Westbrook had never been to Oklahoma; now, it seems like he couldn’t envision himself anywhere else.

“My thought was to go in – it was a new opportunity, new city, great fans – and just go in there and try to get better,” says Westbrook. “I mean, we’re all young and they’re real cool guys and that’s big for us. That’s getting better as a team, as teammates and especially on the court.”

And OKC is only going to get better. Westbrook plays with a real passion and desire for the game of basketball that is fueled by his elite athleticism. A monster in transition and beyond affecting the passing lanes with his length, Russell moves effortlessly through traffic and off the pick and roll. His main weakness coming into the League was his jump shot – something that he must continue to improve – but his strong core enables him to get better looks at off-balance jumpers and when finishing in the lane. While transitioning to lead ball handler, his passing has increased tremendously (already 14 double-digit assist games at press time, compared to nine all of last season). But what probably stands as Westbrook’s greatest asset, is his defense; both perimeter defense and on-ball work is a direct result of that relentless pursuit.

“He’s a tremendous player and has a really bright future,” says Love. “I think in time he will be a triple-double guy who gets them consistently.”

When the Thunder finally did make it to the Staples Center on December 22, the hometown kid delivered nothing short of spectacular; Westbrook collected 21 points, seven boards and 13 assists against the reigning champs. With OKC down 111-108 and the clock waning in its final seconds, Russell was green-lighted with the game-tying three; however, fortune would send it off the rim in an un-homely like bounce. His team would soon respond: winning 11 of its next 15 games after leaving Los Angeles.

Through both his team’s successes and his own personal triumphs, Westbrook has been able to consistently show another coveted trait: resilience. There’s no question that in time we may be seeing Westbrook near the top of the point guard food chain in the NBA – he certainly has the ability and work ethic to do so. But no matter where his career goes from here, the sensation from sunny L.A. is just truly happy to be a part of the show.

“Honestly…honestly I didn’t [think I’d be here]. Just trying to continue to work and try to continue to get better you know and God’s willing I mean, I’m here now.”

Remi Barry, 6-7 215 forward considering UCLA

St. John's in mix for French star Barry

At 6-foot-7, recruit also considering UCLA, Arizona State

By Adam Zagoria /
05/11/2010 11:11 AM ET

Remi Barry, who attends Del Oro High School, hasn't played in a high school game since February 2009. (YBA Dawgs)

Having already landed Los Angeles senior wing Dwayne Polee, St. John's now appears to be in the mix for another highly touted recruit from California.
Remi Barry, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound native of France with NBA potential, is considering the Johnnies along with UCLA and Arizona State.

Doc Haynes, Barry's AAU coach with the YBA Dawgs, says UConn and Wake Forest have also expressed interest, but St. John's is the leader.

"Right now he's considering St. John's as the frontrunner," Haynes said Monday in a phone interview from Sacramento, Calif.

Barry, who is averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the YBA Dawgs, didn't anoint St. John's as his favorite just yet, though.

"I don't have any favorite at all," he said. "I have top three. UCLA, St. John's and Arizona State."

St. John's coach Steve Lavin was recently out in California visiting Polee, who committed last week, and Barry.

Haynes said Barry struck up a relationship with the former UCLA and current Red Storm coach.

"There's something about the Big Apple that's intriguing," Haynes said. "Coach Lavin came out about two weeks ago. Remi thought that he was very genuine and that was a big plus. Remi's got everyone coming from everywhere trying to woo him and he thought that Coach Lavin was very genuine."

Barry said he liked Lavin but needed to visit the Queens campus.

"I like him, but I need to go check the campus and do the same for every college that I want to go," Barry said.

Barry said he may visit some schools "in two weeks," but provided no further details.

Barry played the 2008-09 season at American Heritage High School in Florida, but he hasn't played in a high school game since February 2009.

California officials ruled that his transfer to Del Oro High School was for athletic advantage and said he could not suit up there. He spent this past season working out with its team.

He has been playing AAU ball with the YBA Dawgs since March.

During one sequence of events last week, Haynes said Barry "caught an alley-oop, reversed it and dunked it backwards."

On the next play, he backed down a smaller defender, drop-stepped and threw down a power dunk.

Soon thereafter, he pulled up in transition and swished a 3-pointer.

"He definitely can do it all," Haynes said. "He can handle the ball. He's one of our best ball-handlers. He's one of our best shooters. He's unselfish and that's what everyone loves."

When the team played this past weekend at an AAU event in Rocklin, Calif., Haynes came away with a few more interesting tales.

With the Dawgs up 23 points in one game, Haynes sent Barry to the bench to rest, only to hear boos from the parents and fans of the opposing team.

"They said, 'We drove three hours to play against you guys,'" Haynes said. "'I love the way you guys play and that kid No. 3 is special. I don't care if we are getting beat, can you just let him play?'"

When Barry and two other players left before the championship game to attend their prom, Haynes heard it from the officials, too.

"I was off two hours ago," one official told Haynes before the title game. "The only reason I stuck around to call this game was because I thought he was going to be here."

Haynes has been in Sacramento since 1992 and calls Barry "the best ballplayer that I've ever seen come out of Sacramento."

Haynes has worked with NBA players Gerald Wallace, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovich, and he says Barry compares favorably.

"Remi is on the same level with Gerald Wallace," he said. "I think he shoots the ball better."

Someday, Barry would like to follow French stars Tony Parker and Boris Diaw into the NBA.

"It's my goal, but obviously everybody wants to play there," he said.

As far as colleges, Haynes says Barry has no timetable on deciding.

The NCAA's late-signing period ends May 19, but Haynes said Barry could opt to go past that deadline and just commit over the summer without signing a letter of intent.

"I really don't think he has a timetable," Haynes said. "One of the things that Remi is excited about is St. John's hasn't put any pressure on him to make a decision. Some schools have tried to box him in and force him into a making a decision, and that's a big turnoff for him."

He added: "Just from what I'm feeling, St. John's is in a very good place."

MUH: It's not wholly clear if Barry is a 2010 or 2011 prospect

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where to, Brothers Wear?

Wear twins to transfer from North Carolina and expect interest from UCLA

David and Travis Wear, who helped Mater Dei win two state basketball titles, will have three years of eligibility left but must sit out next season. Their dad cites 'geographic issues' for decision.

By Chris Foster and Eric Sondheimer
The LA Times
May 6, 2010 | 8:32 p.m.

David and Travis Wear, twin forwards who helped Santa Ana Mater Dei High win two state championships, are transferring from North Carolina and are expected to draw significant interest from UCLA.

The Wears, who are both 6 feet 10, will have three years of remaining eligibility. Both strongly considered UCLA and Arizona out of high school before signing with the Tar Heels.

North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, "I would imagine UCLA would be interested."

UCLA has two open scholarships, though adding the twins would do nothing to improve next season's team. Both would have to sit out a year in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

Travis, who weighs 235 pounds, averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 32 games for the Tar Heels last season. David, who weighs 225, averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds but missed the last five games with a hip injury. He should be 100% healthy in another month, his father indicated.

David Sr. cited "geographic issues" as the reason his sons were leaving North Carolina, a move Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams said left him "extremely disappointed."

If the Wear twins do transfer to either UCLA or Arizona, all five starters off Mater Dei's 2008-09 team would be members of Pacific 10 Conference programs.

Andy Brown is at Stanford, Gary Franklin at California and Tyler Lamb at UCLA.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Itching to become a Bruin

Matt Carlino is plowing through his coursework in order to play for UCLA next season.

Players skipping senior year for college
By Matt Winkeljohn
Special to
Updated: May 4, 2010, 12:06 PM ET

For two young men who know little about each other, Matt Carlino and Scottie Wilbekin have become oddly linked.

On separate paths through their junior years of high school, each 6-foot-3 guard -- Carlino in Indiana and Wilbekin in Florida -- decided to go to college a year ahead of schedule to play basketball. Carlino committed last week to UCLA, Wilbekin two weeks ago to Florida. Neither began his junior year planning on early graduation; for both, the idea emerged a few months ago.

Graduating high school early, or "reclassifying," might not yet qualify as a trend, but it's not an underground movement, either.

Once the idea came up -- Carlino's father said it was first suggested by UCLA coaches once his son reopened his recruitment by rescinding a commitment to Indiana in March -- research made the family decision easier.

"I don't know a lot of people with kids who would turn that down," Mark Carlino said. "You take a trip to UCLA and see what it is academically and athletically. It was an opportunity knocking, and Matt has chosen to go through that door.

"You forgo your senior year, and Bloomington South is a phenomenal school and program. They would have had a very good chance to compete for the state championship, but at the same time Matt's dream has always been to play college basketball at the highest level, and there it was sitting in front of him."

Leaving early has become in vogue at the next level, as 103 young men applied for early entry into the NBA's 2010 draft pool, 80 from the U.S., the NBA confirmed this week.

Carlino and Wilbekin will not become pioneers at their current level even if they master mountainous new academic assignments to become college eligible for 2010-11. This has happened before, if not frequently enough to be considered a trend.

Daniel Hackett entered USC in 2006 a year early, played three seasons for the Trojans, entered his name in the NBA draft pool in '09 and has played in Italy since going undrafted by an NBA team last June.

Andre Dawkins reclassified and this past fall entered Duke a year early. He averaged more than 12 minutes and 4.4 points per game as the Blue Devils won the NCAA title.

There might be a chain reaction at work here, although Wilbekin's father, Svend Wilbekin, did not want to answer many questions, including one about his son making a commitment to the Gators within 48 hours of Matt Carlino's recruiting visit there a couple of weeks ago. "Since it's difficult to speak delicately about something that's not 100 percent done, I'd rather wait," Svend Wilbekin said.

He did say his family would not be considering his son going to college early but for the fact that UF is in his hometown of Gainesville, Fla.

Tom Topping, who runs the Team Florida AAU program in which Scottie Wilbekin has made a name for himself, has coached dozens of eventual Division I players. He believes Wilbekin is ready to move up; he's been playing against older boys for years.

"I would say it's rare," said Topping, the one-time Stetson assistant who through AAU has mentored former UCLA standout and current Milwaukee Buck Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, former Gators Walter Hodge and Nick Calathes, and Florida State's Solomon Alabi, Chris Singleton, Luke Loucks and Pierre Jordan among many more Division I players. "Physically, I don't see a problem with Scottie going into Florida.

"I think mentally taking a kid that's still pretty young maturity-wise and … basketball has become such a business -- that's going to be an adjustment that every kid has to make. Scottie is very unique in that he has a very tight-knit family, and group of friends and church in Gainesville. It's not as though he's going away. That's a major consideration. He's going to be close to his support group."

Carlino and Wilbekin share with USC's Hackett and Duke's Dawkins other similarities in that they're entering programs whose rosters are churning.

There was room for Hackett to start as a freshman under former USC coach Tim Floyd after the murder of point guard Ryan Francis in the spring of 2006 and the academic ineligibility of Gabe Pruitt that fall.

At Duke this past fall, the Blue Devils were looking to backfill for the graduation of guard Greg Paulus, the early departure to the NBA of Gerald Henderson and the surprising decision of swingman Elliot Williams to return to his hometown of Memphis.

UCLA is coming off a 14-18 season in which the Bruins did not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since '03-04 after struggling to compensate for the early departures in consecutive seasons of guards Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday.

"[Enrolling early] was suggested by the UCLA coaches after Matt reopened his recruitment," said Mark Carlino, who moved with Matt from the family's Scottsdale, Ariz., home to Bloomington before his son's junior season. "It got us thinking, and given the success of the young man who went to Duke this past year … we investigated.

"Now is a great time for him to enter. There is a window of opportunity. The team did not have a record that they would have liked, but it's certainly a time in UCLA's program that it would be a good time to enter because of the youth of the team."

Matt Carlino is taking three accelerated senior-level classes in addition to his junior class load with the goal of enrolling in summer school at UCLA. "At the pace he's been working, it appears it will happen," his father said. "He's not doing basketball, not doing any AAU. He's literally 100 percent on his studies."

“I would question anybody who would do this whether they've thought it through all the way through. I told them I thought it was the wrong decision, and it didn't make any difference. I just don't see why you want to rush growing up.”
-- Bloomington South coach J.R. Holmes

Mark Carlino did not want his son interviewed for this story because he's busy with academics and preparing to take the SAT for the first time. "I want him to keep his mind clear," Mark Carlino said.

Svend Wilbekin similarly said "a lot has to happen on our part" for his son to become eligible to enroll at Florida for the 2010-11 year, although he said he felt there was a "99 percent chance" of that happening.

This type of fast-tracking is sure to trigger debate. Topping admits as much, and Matt Carlino's high school coach -- at least for his past and last year of high school -- is among those with a dissenting opinion.

J.R. Holmes has been a prep coach for 28 years, and his son, Jonathan Holmes, played at North Carolina from 1999 through 2003.

"After [Carlino] decommitted to Indiana in March, there were two schools that mentioned [early enrollment] to me, Florida and UCLA," Holmes said, adding that Butler also recruited Carlino. "One school told me it was the father's idea, and the other didn't say either way. I didn't think Matt could or would [graduate early].

"I would question anybody who would do this whether they've thought it through all the way through. I told them I thought it was the wrong decision, and it didn't make any difference. I just don't see why you want to rush growing up."

Holmes, whose teams have gone 68-3 with a state title over the past three seasons, has multiple Division I prospects on his roster and has produced more than a dozen over the years. He feels Carlino will miss some once-in-a-lifetime high school opportunities and a chance to better his game.

"They want him to be a point guard, and right now he's more of a 2 guard," the coach said. "I think another year in high school -- and we have a very good team and another player who's going to Xavier [Darwin Davis] who could share that guard work would help. He's better than a year ago, and I personally think he would be a lot better if he stayed."

Wilbekin's AAU coach said the time is right.

"Scottie is not in the dark," Topping said. "Absolutely he's making sacrifices, and he may miss a few things. There's always going to be sacrifices kids make, and most of our kids who have the opportunity to go to prom or play travel basketball give up the prom because they love basketball and that's where their passion lies."

Carlino's father has been through the early decision-making process before. He and Matt -- who first committed to Indiana in August 2008 -- moved from Arizona to Bloomington last year while his wife and two other children remained in Scottsdale.

"Matt wanted to get an idea what the IU program was about, be around it," Mark Carlino said. "As a parent I probably shouldn't have let him make such a quick decision [to commit], but being [in Bloomington] allowed us to see what it is and what it isn't, and he just decided to explore more. Matt and I understand that coach Holmes disagrees, and we have a tremendous respect for him and he's always shown us tremendous respect. We've agreed to disagree.

"I watched [Andre Dawkins] all year, not thinking Matt was going to be in this situation, but because he was intriguing to watch. I don't think he would trade being a part of a national championship team for being back in high school. If anything, just watching him was more encouraging for Matt. The truth of the matter is it's not about whether [UCLA] wins a national championship. With Matt it was about going to a phenomenal institution with a phenomenal basketball tradition and having a more than ample opportunity to contribute immediately. I just don't know a lot of people who would turn that down."

UCLA Signs Matt Carlino to a National Letter of Intent

Carlino will graduate from high school a year early and join the Bruins for the 2010-11 season.

from the Official UCLA Men's Basketball website
May 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES - UCLA head coach Ben Howland announced today the signing of Matt Carlino to a National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA in the fall of 2010.

Carlino, a 6-foot-2-inch, 175-pound guard out of Phoenix, Ariz., (Bloomington South HS, Bloomington, Ind.), will graduate a year early from high school and enroll at UCLA this summer.

Carlino joins Lazeric Jones, a 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound guard out of Chicago, Ill., (John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill.) in the late signing class and joins the early signing class, which consisted of Tyler Lamb, a 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound guard out of Santa Ana, Calif., and Mater Dei High School and Josh Smith, a 6-foot-10-inch, 280-pound center from Kent, Wash., and Kentwood High School.

"I'm really excited about Matt Carlino joining our basketball program and family," Howland said. "He is an outstanding shooter, a very good passer, a good athlete and an outstanding kid. I look for him to make an immediate impact and be a very good player for us. I think he is an outstanding addition to our team."

Carlino averaged 13.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while leading Bloomington South HS to a 23-1 overall record as a junior in 2009-10. The Panthers won the Conference Indiana title with a 7-0 mark. BSHS lost to Jeffersonville 58-56 in the 4A State Regional Finals this past season and was ranked as the No. 1 team in the state for most of the season. Carlino was named to the Indiana Junior All-Star Team and to the All-Conference Indiana Team in 2009-10.

He compiled a 76-11 (.874) overall record during his prep career, which has included starting all three years for a No. 1 ranked team in the state. He played his first two seasons at Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz., where he was coached by his father, Mark Carlino.

While starting his first two years at point guard, he led the Highland Hawks to a 29-4 mark in 2008-09 (sophomore season) and a 24-6 record in 2007-08 (freshman campaign). As a sophomore, he averaged 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game while being named first team All-State and the Fiesta Region Player of the Year, as well as the East Valley Player of the Year. HHS lost in the state finals 70-62 to St. Mary's High School (Phoenix). As a freshman, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He was named first team All-Fiesta Region and second team All-State in 2007-08.

And then there were two

UCLA duo determined to turn it around
By Diamond Leung
Originally Published: May 6, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- Jerime Anderson prepared himself for the worst.

It was only in 2008 when the now-embattled UCLA point guard was one of five top-50 players to arrive in Westwood. Fresh off a third consecutive Final Four appearance, coach Ben Howland stocked the cupboard with a recruiting class that ranked as the nation's best.

Two years later, a Bruins team that went 14-18 and endured only the third losing season at the school since 1948 needed -- and got -- a makeover. Howland ushered sophomores Drew Gordon and J'mison Morgan out of the program, and not quite knowing where he stood, Anderson considered transferring as well.

Jerime Anderson and UCLA suffered early-season losses to Cal State Fullerton, Portland and Long Beach State and went 8-10 in a down Pac-10.

Nevertheless, he went into an individual meeting armed with a promise of a renewed commitment to getting better following a season marred by inconsistency and injury. But Howland didn't want to hear it.

"Words are cheap," he said, demanding Anderson to back it up with actions.

"It wasn't like he told me, 'You're going to be on the end of the bench next year,'" Anderson said. "It was, 'You still have an opportunity, but you just have to show me you've changed and have a different work ethic.'

"I accept that. I only need one chance, and now I'm about to put the work in to be that player."

Living up to the lofty expectations of instant stardom has proved far more difficult for a former top-ranked recruiting class that has dwindled down to Anderson and backcourt mate Malcolm Lee. Howland, who was quick to note that such expectations were media-driven and not his own, did concede that some missteps were made while evaluating the class.

He clashed with the talented Gordon and called it a case of "a blown evaluation not in terms of his ability as a player, but in terms of things off the floor," declining to elaborate on the 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds before parting ways with the team in December. He landed at New Mexico.

Howland called Morgan, who was recruited late after being released from his signed letter of intent with LSU, "a big disappointment" after the 6-foot-10 center dealt with knee surgeries, played sparingly and was ultimately dismissed from the team shortly after the season. He landed at Baylor.

But even with UCLA banking on the development of younger players like Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson -- along with the arrivals of top recruits Josh Smith and Tyler Lamb -- in order to have a bounce-back season, it's certainly not too late for Anderson and Lee to make a meaningful impact on a team that is suddenly without a senior (graduating junior guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid will not return).

Howland is especially excited about Lee. The '08 recruiting class has already produced one NBA player in point guard Jrue Holiday, who was drafted in the first round after his freshman season, and Howland is confident that Lee will be the second to make it.

A slender 6-4 combo guard, Lee's 12.1 points per game in 2009-10 were second on the Bruins. In the coming season, Howland expects that number to increase, as Lee has already begun putting on pounds and perfecting his shooting mechanics this spring in preparation for his new role as the focal point of the offense.

Malcolm Lee is one of only two players left from UCLA's top-ranked 2008 recruiting class.

Scheduling sessions with Howland to establish a higher release point and consistent follow-through should help Lee improve on a .252 shooting percentage from 3-point range. And dragging teammates along with him to midnight shootarounds at Pauley Pavilion help establish his role as a team leader.

"Coming in as the No. 1 class, we had high expectations for ourselves," Lee said. "We're carrying a lot of tradition. The four letters on our jerseys hold a lot of weight."

Anderson, meanwhile, has much to prove after admittedly not working as hard as he could have last offseason. Consequently, he lost his starting job along with his confidence while his aggressiveness and decision-making ability suffered.

One particularly ulcer-inducing moment occurred on the road against cross-town rival USC when Anderson got stripped while in the act of bringing the ball up the floor and calling a play. Marcus Johnson's steal and game-sealing dunk prompted a flurry of text messages to Anderson's cell phone wondering, "What is wrong with you?"

"If he really is mentally tough and comes back with the right frame of mind that he wants to prove that he's a lot better than that, he'll have a chance to do just that," Howland said.

However, there appears to be enough doubt about Anderson's ability to start at point guard that Howland brought in the rare junior college transfer to UCLA in Lazeric Jones, who is expected to make an immediate impact at the position. The Bruins also have a verbal commitment from Matt Carlino, who was encouraged to graduate a year early and could also battle for minutes at the point.

Anderson had heard UCLA was bringing in competition for him, and with some close friends no longer on the team, he said thoughts of transferring crossed his mind. After a long talk with his parents about it, however, he realized he wanted to stay.

It helped that Howland had not completely lost hope in him.

"There was no discussion of, 'We're going to take away your scholarship,' nothing like that," Anderson said. "I was glad that I was still wanted here. I just want to honor that. Slowly, I'll earn his trust back."

Lee could have left as well, choosing to bolt for the NBA rather than dedicate himself to helping a team in rebuilding mode. He might have cited frustrations while filling in for an injured Anderson at point guard, a position that seemed to make him play too timidly.

But Lee said he did not consider ending his college career. The low point for him, after all, came during a home game against USC that saw the Trojans blow out the Bruins by 21 points with 99-year-old John Wooden in attendance -- a scene Lee described as "sad and disgusting."

Having his legacy be one of losing was simply not an option.

"I definitely wasn't leaving on this note," Lee said. "You can't leave UCLA like that. That's crazy."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Terrence Jones: Washington gets verbal but will they get TJ to sign LOI?

Terrence Jones Still Hasn't Signed a LOI to Washington

Posted by Percy Allen
Husky Men's Basketball Blog
Seattle Times
April 30, 2010

The news conference is over, but the drama may just be starting.

Almost everyone has left the Jefferson High gymnasium, however, Terrence Jones is huddled with his parents in the corner of the gymnasium and folks are keeping their distance. Seems like a major pow-wow.

I spoke to Jones and I can tell this recruiting stuff hasn't been fun for him. On what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, he sighed heavily and said he was happy that it was over.

Unlike Terrence Ross (above, left), who was decked out in Husky purple and said he made his choice a month ago, Jones didn't know where he was going until the moment he picked the UW hat.

I believe that.

It also looks as if he needs a little more time to make sure he made the right decision.

Nearly an hour after making his choice, Jones still hasn't signed his letter of intent to Washington. I posted on the Live Chat he didn't have a LOI to UW, but that information came from his aunt and it was incorrect.

There is a UW letter of intent here and it's unsigned at the moment.

And there's more.

Kentucky coach John Calipari called Jones after his announcement and Jones was on the phone for a very long time. About 15 minutes. Reading body language, Jones seemed pained.

He told me, "You hurt thousands of people just as much as you make people happy."

Jones' mother said if he hadn't chosen Washington, he was going to pick Kentucky.

Coach Lorenzo Romar is in Portland. NCAA rules prohibit him from attending the news conference, but a Jones family member told me he was two blocks away and was going to see Jones Saturday morning.

This much is certain, Washington added Terrence Ross today and we'll have to wait and see if Jones will join him next season.

Stay tuned. A strange recruiting season may get even more bizarre if UW loses Jones to Kentucky.

Matt Carlino videos

Southpaw shooter looks a little like Chris Mullin.

Terrence Jones not coming

UCLA basketball: Bruins lose out on power forward Terrence Jones
by Chris Foster
The LA Times
April 30, 2010 | 4:16 pm

UCLA missed out on another top recruit, as Terrence Jones announced Friday that he will attend Washington, in what became a big day for the Huskies.

Jones, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Portland Jefferson High School, was twice named the Oregon 5A player of the year. He averaged 32 points and 13 rebounds in leading Jefferson to its third consecutive state title last season.

Jones will be joined by Jefferson teammate Terrence Ross, who also picked Washington on Friday. UCLA had also recruited Ross.

“I wanted to go to a school that was ready for next season,” Jones said. “I also wanted to stay close to home. As I have said all along, I want to play with Terrence Ross.”

The Bruins were among the teams in the running for Jones, along with Kentucky, Kansas, Washington, Oregon and Oklahoma. The Bruins still have three scholarships available, but there are few high-end recruits remaining. Jones was ranked 13th overall and third among power forwards by

UCLA Coach Ben Howland, whose team is coming off a 14-18 season, has said he will use all three scholarships. Earlier this week, the Bruins did land Matt Carlino, a 6-2 shooting guard from Bloomington (Ind.).

The Bruins have already signed Josh Smith, a center from Covington (Wash.) Kentwood, and Tyler Lamb, a shooting guard from Santa Ana Mater Dei. Lazeric Jones, a point guard from Logan Community College in Carterville (Ill.), also announced he would attend UCLA.

Congratulations to Coach Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies.

OK, enough of that.

Russell Westbrook, OKC go down to Jordan Farmar and the Lakeshow

"Westbrook finished with 21 points and nine assists, five rebounds and no turnovers." Farmar had 3 pts, 4 assists and 1 rebound for the second round-bound Lakers.

Lakers grab close Game 6 victory, advance to second round
By Randy Renner,
Posted Saturday May 1, 2010 2:07AM

OKLAHOMA CITY ( exclusive) -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol scored only two points in the fourth quarter of Friday night's first round playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder but they were the last two points of the game.

With the Lakers trailing by one and another sellout Ford Center crowd roaring like a jet engine, Gasol grabbed a Kobe Bryant miss and put the Lakers into the second round with a putback layup.

Russell Westbrook's desperation heave at the buzzer clanged off the rim and the Lakers survived a furious OKC rally to win 95-94.

"I'm just glad I gave us a chance to win," Gasol told reporters after the game. "I just kept battling and hustling. I pursued that ball and put it in."

Bryant had a chance to do what he does best, close out games, but his 13-foot jumper with :01.8 left in the game missed its mark.

"I had Westbrook on me, got him in an isolation then went to my sweetspot, elevated, took the shot but it didn't go in," Bryant said. "Pau saved the game for us."

The Lakers and Thunder battled through a game that featured nine ties and 15 lead changes but the Lakers seemed to have seized control going up 91-84 with 5:09 to go after a Ron Artest 17-footer.

But Oklahoma City went on a 10-0 run started by a 3-pointer from Kevin Durant. The Thunder took the lead at 94-91 on Durant's driving layup and the juiced up Ford Center crowd shook the building.

Bryant answered 19 seconds later with a jumper for his 31st and 32nd points of the game. Bryant would get no more though as both team's defenses locked down.

Neither team could score for almost two minutes. Oklahoma City missed its last five shots of the game and the Lakers missed four in a row until Gasol put back Bryant's miss.

"Tonight Kobe's last shot didn't go in but Pau was there," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "We didn't play consistent. We had runs, we had spurts, it was a lack of focus. But credit should go to our opponent. They made a great run at the end they were very tenacious."

"I'm proud of our guys," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, "They left everything they had out on the floor. They have nothing to be ashamed of."

The Thunder were the surprise team of the NBA going from just 23 wins last season to 50 and a spot in the playoffs. Brooks was named the league's Coach of the Year but all those accomplishments paled in the light of a heartbreaking loss to the defending champions.

"Our guys are very emotional in the locker room," Brooks said, "Our home court is a very special place and we almost pulled out another win."

The Ford Center crowd stood for several minutes after the game cheering as members of both teams hugged and then walked slowly off the floor.

Bryant led all scorers with 32 points, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown each finished with 11. Pau Gasol, who dropped in the game winner, scored just nine points but he pulled down a game-high 18 rebounds.

Durant led the Thunder with 26 but he had a miserable shooting night, going just 5-of-23.

"I left it all out there, no matter how bad I shot, I gave it my all," he said, "This loss hurts but we all gave it our all."

Westbrook finished with 21 points and nine assists, five rebounds and no turnovers. But he had a tough shooting night also, just 7-of-20.

The Thunder suffered through a bad shooting night overall (36.5 percent) while LA shot 46.8 percent and managed to make half their 3-pointers (12-of-24).

Once again Oklahoma City got off to a horrible start missing nine of their first 10 shots and Thunder star Durant finished the first quarter 0-of-6 though he did get four points at the free-throw line.

The Thunder trailed 13-4 before their offense finally started hitting shots and bringing the game back under control.

Nick Collison hit a layup with 1:32 to play in the opening quarter to give OKC its first lead of the game at 22-21. It was back and forth from there for most of the rest of the first half.

Bryant and Durant led their teams at halftime with 14 points apiece but took different routes to arrive at that total.

Bryant hit five jumpers and four free throws for his 14, Durant's shooting struggles continued as he was just 2-for-11 in the opening 24 minutes but scored nine points from the charity stripe.

Both teams played good defense and hit the boards hard. The Lakers and Thunder each had 24 rebounds but LA got the better of it when it came to shooting, hitting 45.5 percent compared to just 33.3 percent for Oklahoma City in the half.

The Lakers also connected on half their 3-pointers (5-of-10) while the Thunder struggled from long range (2-of-7).

The Lakers again got away from what had worked best for them in Game Five, going down low to Gasol and Bynum for just 11 shots, while putting up 10 3-pointers. Gasol did most of his damage on the glass grabbing half the Lakers 24 rebounds in the first half.

The Thunder will now pack up and head off for the summer but it will not be a vacation, there is much work to do.

"I told them, next season starts now," Durant said of a conversation he had with his teammates at the end of the game. "We've got to start working. I want to be a champion, stuff like this hurts but we have to go through ups and downs. I'm looking forward to coming back next year and hopefully going further."

The Lakers are going further at least to the second round where they'll play the Utah Jazz.

"No scouting report needed," said Bryant, "We're extremely familiar with each other."