April 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA first-team All-America Kevin Love, and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Russell Westbrook, both announced today they would make themselves eligible for the NBA draft but will not hire agents at this time in order to maintain their NCAA eligibility.
Love, the 2007-08 Pac-10 Men's Basketball Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, made his decision to declare for the draft after lengthy discussions with his family in Lake Oswego, Oregon, UCLA Coach Ben Howland, legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden and UCLA teammates who have previously faced this difficult decision.
"It has always been my goal to play basketball at the highest level of competition," Love said. "And consistent with all of my advisors' sound and thoughtful guidance, I understand that I may now have an opportunity to make my mark at the next level, to play for an NBA team. I want to see where I stand in this year's draft so that I can make an informed decision."
The 6-10, 255-pound center became the second freshman in Pac-10 history to earn conference Player of the Year honors. Love led the Bruins with 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season, including averages of 19.8 points and 10.6 rebounds during the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, Love scored in double figures in all 39 of his games this season while posting 23 double-doubles.
Love is the first Bruin freshman to earn first-team All-America honors. In addition, he became the third UCLA player in four years to earn Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and the sixth Bruin overall to earn the honor. Love set a UCLA freshman record with 415 rebounds and that total ranks No. 6 in school history behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (three times) and Bill Walton (twice). His 691 points rank No. 9 on UCLA's single-season list and No. 1 among freshmen.
"Kevin is going to have a long and successful career in the NBA when he chooses that path and I'm very happy for him and wish him nothing but the best," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "He completed the greatest freshman year in the history of UCLA basketball. The entire UCLA family will be rooting for him for the rest of his career."
Westbrook, a third team All-Pac-10 selection, finished third on the team in scoring 12.7 points per game for the Bruins, which won their third straight Pac-10 regular season championship while making a third straight Final Four appearance.
"After discussing it with my family and weighing my options, I've decided to put my name into the 2008 NBA Draft," Westbrook said. "I will not be hiring an agent and will maintain my classes to keep my eligibility."
Westbrook led the 2008 Bruins in assists (167, 4.3 apg) while his 1,318 minutes played this season are the most by a Bruin since 1979, when the statistic began being tracked.
"Russell has worked very, very hard to put himself in a position where he is projected to be a first round draft pick," Howland said. "I am 100 percent supportive of him and putting his name in and getting out there and working out for some teams and weighing his options. I'm really exited and proud about what Russell accomplished this year. I haven't had a player that's improved more in one year than Russell."