May 10, 2002
In his first official statement since the end of the 2001-02 college basketball season, UCLA senior-to-be Jason Kapono announced Friday that he is remaining at UCLA and will play for the Bruins in 2002-03.
"I never wanted this to be a big deal," said Kapono, a 6-8, 213-pounder who prepped at Artesia HS and is from Lakewood. "I guess with all the other things in my life, the weeks since the season ended have just flown by. My family responsibilities regarding the death of one grandfather and the illness of another, attending classes, and working out with my teammates are the things that have been keeping me busy.
"I enjoy being a student-athlete at UCLA," he said. "Continuing to work toward my degree and being with Coach Lavin and my teammates next season are the things that are important to me right now in my life.
"Hopefully the NBA will be in my future plans," Kapono said, "but for right now, I'm at UCLA and UCLA is where I want to be." The deadline to declare for the upcoming NBA draft is Sunday.
As a junior in 2001-02, Kapono tied the school record for games played (33) and started (33) and led UCLA in scoring (16.0, he's led the Bruins in scoring for the last three seasons), three-point shooting (45.3, 87-192) and foul shooting (85.6, 101-118). He set the school single-season record for most three pointers (87, breaking his old mark of 84 that he set as a sophomore, that broke the mark of 82 he set as a freshman) and tied the school record for most three-pointers in a game (seven, at Arizona, 1/19/02). As a junior, he was a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, an Honorable Mention AP All-American and earned All-Pacific-10 honors for the third straight year.
During his three-year UCLA career, Kapono has set the Bruin school record for most three pointers (253) and three-point attempts (549), is No. 2 in three-point percentage (46.1), No. 6 in free throw percentage (81.7, 299-366) and No. 15 in scoring (1,608 points; Kapono's season scoring average is 536 points (16.4), if he scored his average next season, he would end his career with 2,144 points, No. 3 in Bruin history, trailing only Don MacLean (2,608, 1989-92) and Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 2,325, 1967-69).
"Obviously we are delighted that Jason has decided to remain in school, continue working toward his degree and play for us as a senior," Bruin head coach Steve Lavin said. "Jason is a prolific scorer and one of the great shooters in college basketball. His overall game has improved each season during his career here. We will have a young team next year and Jason's leadership and experience will be critical to our success next season."