Nov. 10, 2004
Three players considered to be among the Top 150 high school performers in North America have signed National-Letters-of-Intent to attend UCLA - 6-0, 165-pound point guard Darren Collison (Etiwanda HS/Rancho Cucamonga, CA); 6-5, 195-pound guard/forward Michael Roll (Aliso Viejo HS/Aliso Niguel, CA) and 6-9, 225-pound center/forward Ryan Wright (Loyola Catholic HS/Mississauga, Ontario, Canada). All will be freshman at UCLA next fall.
A pure point guard, Collison enters 2004-05 as the No. 2 point guard in the West by insider.com. His other preseason honors include - Street & Smith's High Honorable Mention All-American, The Sporting News' No. 96 player in the U. S. and second-team Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West.
Last summer, Collison competed for the West team (1-4) at the 2004 USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs, CO. He appeared in five games (two starts) and averaged 21.6 minutes, 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals, and shot .409 (18-44) from the field, .348 (8-23) from the three-point range and .800 (4-5) from the foul line.
As a junior last season, Collison helped lead Etiwanda HS to a 31-3 overall record (No. 23 in the U. S.), 10-0 in the Baseline League and to the southern California Regional final. In the final, Fairfax, led by current Bruin freshman Josh Shipp's 33 points, defeated Etiwanda 75-68OT. Fairfax went on to win the 2004 CA State Div. I championship. In the southern CA Regional semifinals, Etiwanda defeated Taft, led by current Bruin freshman Jordan Farmar, who scored 38 points in the loss.
The Div. I-AA All-CIF Southern Section co-Player of the Year and an All-Area selection in 2004, Collison averaged a team-high 15.6 points and 5.4 assists for coach Dave Kleckner.
"Darren is an outstanding point guard," Howland said. "He's quick and fast. He has a feel for the game, with good passing abilities and court vision. He's a good on-ball defender with quick hands. He has a bright future in our program." .
One of the premier shooters in the western USA, Roll was recently named second-team Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West. Last summer, Roll was impressive at the adidas Superstar Camp in Suwanee, GA.
As a junior in 2004, Roll helped lead Aliso Viejo HS to a 17-11 record. He led his team in three-point shooting and averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists for coach Keith Barnett.
A two-time All-Sea View League performer, a s a sophomore in 2003, Roll averaged 13.0 points and in the CIF Playoffs, he averaged 20.0 points a contest.
"Michael is tough and hard-nosed," Howland said. "He's a good shooter who understands the game. He has an excellent work ethic. Michael is a solid player with a bright future as a Bruin."
A fleet-footed big man who is a great leaper, Wright is rated the No. 15 power forward and No. 54 overall by Rivals.com. His other preseason honors include - No. 50 HoopScoop, No. 52 Scout.com, No. 53 The InsidersHoops.com and No. 54 Future Stars.
Last summer, Wright was the top prospect at the Nike All-Canada Camp and played well at the NBA Players Association Camp in Richmond, VA.
Wright, who grew up in Toronto and moved to the suburb of Mississauga, in 2004 averaged 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds for coach Tony Santafonte . Regarded as a top Canadian Junior player, Wright is a potential 2008 Canada Olympic team candidate.
"Ryan has outstanding athletic ability," Howland said. "His ability to run and jump, at his size, is as good as any player of his size in the country. He has good hands and can block shots. I like his upside and as he develops, he has a chance to be a special player.
"I am happy with this year's class," said Howland. "I think we filled our team's needs with quality players, as well as outstanding young men who will be joining our program."