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UCLA Men's Basketball 2000 Summer Outlook
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  06/29/2000

June 29, 2000

LOS ANGELES - Although UCLA lost junior-to-be forwards, 6-10 Jerome Moiso and 6-7 JaRon Rush to the 2000 NBA Draft, the Bruins enter summer 2000 on a positive note with the return of 6-7 Jason Kapono, last year's Pac-10 co-Freshman of the Year, and the late signing of 6-2 freshman guard Ryan Walcott, from Shadow Mountain HS in Phoenix.

Kapono, UCLA's leading scorer (16.0) last season as a freshman, on May 13 announced he was going to "test the waters" of the NBA Draft, but was also not going to sign with an agent, and left open the door to return to UCLA. And that's exactly what he did on June 15.

Then on June 19, UCLA announced the grant in aid signing of Walcott, who helped lead Shadow Mountain to the 2000 Arizona 5A State championship. He's UCLA third incoming freshman scholarship recruit.

Three Starters Return

With Kapono, the 2000 CBS SportsLine National Freshman of the Year, back in a UCLA uniform for another season, the Bruins will have three solid starters to build their team around in 2000-2001 - 6-1 senior guard Earl Watson, 6-11 junior center Dan Gadzuric and Kapono. Last year, the Bruins were 21-12 overall, 10-8 in the Pac-10 (third-place) and ended the season with an eight-game winning streak before losing to Iowa State 80-56 in an NCAA Midwest Region semifinal.

Watson has been UCLA's iron man for his entire Bruin career, starting every game (97). Last season, he and Kapono started every game (33), tying a Bruin single-season record that Watson also tied in 1998. In 1999-2000 as a co-captain, Watson was No. 1 in minutes (34.7), No. 4 scorer (11.4), No. 5 rebounder (3.9) and led the Bruins in assists (5.9, second in the Pac-10) and steals (1.8, seventh in the Pac-10). On UCLA's career charts, Watson is No. 8 in assists (441) and No. 5 in steals (173, Watson needs 52 steals this season to overtake school leader Tyus Edney, 224, 1992-95).

Gadzuric started 22 of 33 games in 1999-2000. He averaged 22.4 minutes, 9.7 points (No. 5 on team), 7.0 rebounds (second on the team, eighth in the Pac-10) and 1.6 blocked shots (second on the team, third in the Pac-10), while shooting a team-leading 56.5 (third in the Pac-10) from the field. In his final 12 games last season, Gadzuric averaged 11.3 points and 7.4 rebounds and shot 60.0 from the field. He led the Bruins in rebounding 11 times and in blocked shots on 19 occasions.

Kapono, a member of the 2000 All-Pac-10 team, led the Bruins in scoring (16.0, highest scoring freshman in 2000 Pac-10, fifth overall) last year as a true freshman, the second-highest single-season scoring average in Bruin history by a true freshman, second only to Don MacLean's 18.6 (1989). He averaged 32.7 minutes (second on the team), 4.4 rebounds (fourth on the team) and shot 51.9 (seventh in the Pac-10) from the field, 47.4 from three point-range (82-173, eighth in NCAA, first in the Pac-10) and 68.4 from the foul line. Kapono last season led UCLA in scoring on 16 occasions, scored in double figures 29 of 33 games and scored 20 or more points nine times. He set a UCLA single-season record with 82 three-pointers, breaking the old mark of 78, Tracy Murray, 1992.

"Earl, Dan and Jason provide us with three solid starters for the coming season," said Lavin, one of only four coaches in the nation who have led their schools to three "Sweet 16s" in the last four years. "Earl is our leader on the court, Dan is our presence in the middle and Jason provides us with that scoring punch. They are all unselfish team players."

Seven Lettermen Back

Along with the trio of starters, the Bruins also return seven lettermen, including five who have all started games for UCLA during their careers. The returning lettermen are - seniors, 6-4 guard/forward Rico Hines and 6-2 point guard Ryan Bailey, juniors, 6-5 guard/forward Billy Knight, 6-7 forward Matt Barnes, 6-3 guard Ray Young and 6-5 guard/forward Todd Ramasar, along with 6-6 sophomore Brandon Brooks.

Hines has started 15 games in his Bruin career, including seven last season, while Bailey has started 13, including eight in 1999-2000. A co-captain last season, Hines averaged 14.7 minutes, 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 29 games.

Bailey, younger brother to Bruin standout Toby Bailey who completed his second season with the Phoenix Suns, in 32 games last year averaged 16.8 minutes, 3.2 points, 2.4 assists (second on the team) and 1.8 rebounds.

"Watson, along with Hines and Bailey, will provide us talented senior leadership this season," said Lavin, who has a four-year UCLA career record of 91-38. "They have been through a lot of battles and their experience and advice will help our incoming younger players."

Knight, Barnes, Young and Ramasar, along with Gadzuric, form one of the stronger junior classes in the U.S. Knight started nine games last year, including UCLA's last five contests. In 28 games in 1999-2000, he averaged 11.2 minutes, 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds, while shooting 45.3 from the field, 39.7 (25-63, second on the team) from three-point range and 65.6 from the foul line.

Barnes, a talented high school tight end who in the spring also thought about playing football for the Bruins this fall but decided to remain with basketball fulltime, has started nine games in his career, including eight as true frosh in 1998-99. In 28 games last year, Barnes averaged 14.8 minutes, 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds, while shooting 47.1 from the field. In the four games in which he played at least 20 minutes (Purdue, Arizona State, h and the two Stanford games), he averaged 12.3 points and 3.8 rebounds and shot 51.3 from the field.

Young, UCLA's top defensive player, has started 15 games in his career, including a string of 10 consecutive in the early going of last season. In 33 games in 1999-2000, Young averaged 19.4 minutes, 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 36.8 from the field and 31.5 (28-89) from three-point range.

Ramasar, a two-year letterman, sat out all of last season, recovering from left shoulder surgery that was performed on Oct. 18, 1999. After a lengthy rehabilitation, Ramasar will be ready for fall camp.

"These four players are a very determined group of upperclassmen," said Lavin, who is the first UCLA coach to lead the Bruins to three "Sweet 16" appearances in a four-year span since the NCAA Tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. "Billy, Matt and Ray have all started for us and Todd is entering his fourth year in the program. We have a lot of on-court experience between our senior and junior classes."

UCLA's seventh letterman is 6-6 sophomore Brandon Brooks. On the team last year as a true frosh and appearing in nine games, Brooks is one of the top young water polo goalies in the nation. He was UCLA's starting goalie as a true frosh last fall when the Bruin men's team won the NCAA Championship.

Transfer Eligible

Jason Flowers, a 6-1 senior guard, sat out last season after transferring to UCLA from UC Irvine. Originally at UCLA in 1996-97 (he did not play basketball), Flowers played at UC Irvine from 1997-99. During his two-year Anteater career, he started 21 games. As a junior in 1998-99 at UC Irvine, he averaged 17.0 minutes, 5.4 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals. Flowers will be UCLA's fourth senior on this season's squad.

Five Newcomers, Including Three Freshman Signees

Highlighting UCLA's newcomers are three incoming freshmen 6-9 T. J. Cummings, 6-8 Josiah Johnson and 6-2 Ryan Walcott.

Cummings, the son of DePaul great and long-time NBA performer Terry Cummings, signed with the Bruins last November. From Homewood-Flossmoor HS in Homewood, IL, Cummings last season as a senior averaged 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds, while earning USA Today honorable mention All-America.

Johnson, the son of Bruin and NBA standout Marques Johnson and younger brother to Bruin Kris Johnson (1995-98), signed with UCLA in April. He attended Montclair Prep in Van Nuys. In 1999-2000, he averaged 24.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and shot 54.0 from the field and 70.0 from the foul line. Like Cummings, Johnson was also a 2000 USA Today honorable mention All-America.

UCLA's most recent signee is Walcott. As a senior last season at Shadow Mountain HS in Phoenix, AZ, Walcott helped lead his school to the Arizona 5A State Championship, averaging 16.2 points and 5.4 assists a game. Arizona and Vancouver Grizzlies standout Mike Bibby is Walcott's cousin.

"We are very excited about our incoming freshman class," Lavin said. "Cummings and Johnson should get immediate playing time and they will bolster our inside game. Walcott is going to help us right away at the point guard position."

Another incoming freshman for the Bruins is 6-5 walkon guard Ryan Mollins, from Redondo Union HS in Redondo Beach. Mollins last season averaged 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, while shooting 48.0 from the field and 84.0 from the foul line.

UCLA will also have on its roster 6-10 transfer John Hoffart. Last season as a freshman, Hoffart played at Cal Poly-SLO and before that prepped at Davis, CA HS.

Losses From Last Year

The Bruins lose three players from last year's squad - Jerome Moiso, JaRon Rush and last season's only senior, 6-6 Sean Farnham. Moiso and Rush both declared early for the 2000 NBA Draft. Moiso was the 11th selection in the first round, taken by the Boston Celtics and Rush was not drafted. Moiso was the 27th first round selection in UCLA history and the Bruins' second (Baron Davis, Charlotte, 1999) with Lavin as head coach.

Moiso, who started 30 of 33 games last season including the last seven contests, was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 performer in 2000. He was third on the team in minutes (29.5), second in scoring (13.0, 19th in the Pac-10), first in rebounding (7.6, fourth in the Pac-10) and blocked shots (1.67, second in the Pac-10) and shot 50.1 (ninth in the Pac-10) from the field. In 1999-2000, he led the Bruins in scoring eight times and in rebounding on 15 occasions. Moiso last season scored in double figures 23 times and recorded 10 double-doubles. As a freshman in 1998-99, Moiso started 21 of 29 games, averaging 23.8 minutes, 10.8 points (No. 4 on the team) and 5.8 rebounds (No. 2 on the team).

Rush, on Dec. 10, 1999, was suspended by UCLA while the school investigated possible NCAA violations. In all, Rush missed 24 games last season for receiving money from an agent and for accepting benefits from a nonscholastic coach (AAU) prior to his enrollment at UCLA. He played in the season's first three games and came back for the final six. He was the spark at the end of the year that helped the Bruins win eight consecutive games before losing to Iowa State in the NCAA Midwest final.

In his first game back, March 4 at No. 1 Stanford, Rush played 26 minutes and scored 19 points, including the game-winning jumper with three seconds left in overtime, to lead the Bruins to a 94-93 win over the Cardinal. In his final six games of last season, Rush averaged 23.3 minutes, 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, while shooting 55.6 from the field, 40.9 from three-point range and 66.7 from the foul line. As a freshman in 1998-99, Rush earned second-team Basketball News Freshman All-America. He started 22 of 28 games and averaged 28.1 minutes, 11.4 points (third on the team) and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds.

"Moiso and Rush during their careers provided us with consistent and hard-working efforts, every day in practice and in games," Lavin said. "We're proud of our history of NBA draftees and we wish Jerome and JaRon the very best of luck at the next level."

Farnham, a co-captain in 1999-2000 with Watson and Hines, started 11 times last season, including the last nine games (8-1), and the Bruins were 10-1 in those contests. In his last two years, Farnham started on 18 occasions and UCLA was 16-2 in those games, losing twice in the NCAA Tournament (Iowa State in 2000 and Detroit Mercy in 1999). In 23 games last season, Farnham averaged 6.9 minutes, 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds and shot 42.3 from the field. Following his June graduation, Farnham joined the basketball staff at Pepperdine as an assistant coach.

"Sean gave us a great four years," Lavin said. "During his last two years, he provided us with such a spark as a starter during the first five minutes of a game. We won some big games over the last two years with him in the starting lineup. Sean will make a fine college coach."

2000-2001 Schedule

UCLA opens the regular season Nov. 9-10 playing in the prestigious Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Joining the Bruins in New York City will be Kentucky, Kansas and St. John's.

In other nonleague highlight contests, UCLA will play Georgia Tech in The John R. Wooden Classic on Dec. 2 at The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, on Dec. 23, UCLA will host North Carolina, on Dec. 30, the Bruins will play at Purdue, on Jan. 13, UCLA will host Villanova and on Feb. 10, the Bruins will play at DePaul.

UCLA will open the 2001 Pac-10 season in Pauley Pavilion, hosting three consecutive conference encounters - Washington on Jan. 4, Washington State on Jan. 6 and USC on Jan. 11.

In all, UCLA will play eight schools (Arizona, DePaul, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Purdue, St. John's, Stanford) in 2000-2001 that advanced to last season's NCAA Tournament.

"Every year since I've been here, UCLA plays one of the nation's top competitive schedules, and this season is no exception," Lavin said. "The nonleague games help get us ready for the Pac-10 and the conference games help prepare us for the NCAA. Playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament will tell us right away where our team ranks with some of the nation's other top squads."


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