March 8, 2005
When Jordan Farmar announced that UCLA would be his college destination, there was little doubt among most observers that he would be an impact player for the Bruins.
After all, he was one of the top recruits in the nation, a player chosen as a high school senior to play in the prestigious McDonald's All-America game. He averaged nearly 28 points and seven assists as a prep senior at Taft High School in Van Nuys, Calif., and was part of a heralded recruiting class that was expected to help return UCLA basketball to national prominence.
With three-year starting point guard Cedric Bozeman set to return, it was also expected that Farmar's role would be somewhat limited in his first season in Westwood. But that all changed when Bozeman suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, forcing Farmar into an expanded role as the Bruins' starting point guard.
"It was mixed emotions," said Farmar of Bozeman's injury. "It hurt the team because Ced is a great player and a better person. But I was also happy to have the opportunity to show what I could do."
Farmar then proceeded to show what he could do, and to say he succeeded would be a grand understatement.
How effective was Farmar as a freshman in Westwood? Effective enough to be named the 2004-05 Rivals.com National Freshman of the Year.
"Jordan has had an outstanding year," said UCLA coach Ben Howland, whose team wrapped up the regular season with an overall record of 18-9 and a Pac-10 mark of 11-7. "This is a great honor for him to receive. He's earned it."
Farmar has started all 27 games for the Bruins, who are a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament, and is averaging 13.5 points, 5.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game heading into postseason play. He's shooting 43 percent from the floor, including 36 percent from 3-point range, and 81 percent from the foul line, while playing better than 34 minutes per game.
While he has put together a tremendous season, Farmar struggled a bit early in the season in adjusting to the college game. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder turned the ball over 26 times in UCLA's first five games, and while he averaged nearly 12 points during that span, he connected on just 18 of 43 shots from the floor.
But the turning point came in the Bruins' sixth game, a dramatic 87-85 victory against Pepperdine. Farmar scored 25 points in the game, on 8-for-11 shooting, turned the ball over just once and scored the game-winning basket with less than five seconds left to play.
From there, Farmar settled into his role and became one of the top performers in the Pac-10 regardless of class. His steady play at the point was especially crucial in helping UCLA win its final four games of the season, a feat that got the Bruins off of the NCAA bubble.
"Jordan has done a great job leading this program," Howland said. "He has continued to improve throughout the season and has played his best basketball down the home stretch."
While he's focused on trying to lead his team on an NCAA-tourney run, Farmar already has targeted one aspect of his game on which he'll focus during the offseason.
"The shooting and ball skills are things you always work on, but I need to let my body mature and get in the weight room and get stronger," said Farmar, who was named the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week twice this season. "I want to be at my optimum physical condition."
Farmar's coach has little doubt that his point guard will continue to get better in all areas of the game.
Said Howland: "With Jordan, what's exciting for me is his best is yet to come."
2004-05 Rivals.com National Hoops Freshman of the Week winners
Arron Afflalo, March 1
Glen Davis, Feb. 22
Darius Washington, Feb. 15
Marvin Williams, Feb. 8
Darius Washington, Feb. 1
Daniel Gibson, Jan. 25
Jeff Green, Jan. 18
Jordan Farmar, Jan. 11
D.J. White, Jan. 4
Toney Douglas, Dec. 28
Bryce Taylor, Dec. 21
Jordan Farmar, Dec. 14
Daniel Gibson, Dec. 7