June 16, 2000
Jason Kapono, who on May 13 announced he was going to "test the waters" with regard to entering the June 28 NBA draft, has withdrawn his name as a candidate for the upcoming pro draft and will return to UCLA for his sophomore season.
Kapono, who last year as a true freshman was UCLA's leading scorer (16.0), never signed with an agent. At the time of his May 13 announcement, he indicated that he was leaving his options open with regard to returning to school. He has until June 21 to withdraw his name and return to college. Kapono sent his withdrawal letter to the NBA on Friday (for Saturday delivery). Kapono stated in the letter - "this letter shall serve as my notice to resume participation in intercollegiate athletics at UCLA and withdraw my name as a candidate for the 2000 NBA Draft."
"I had a lot of things to consider," Kapono said. "I believe I would have been a first-round selection in this draft. The deciding factor for me was being able to come back to UCLA, be with my teammates, play for the Bruins and continue my college experience and education. I made an effort during the spring to continue my progress toward a degree and I'm going to summer school, too. The bottom line is I want to come back and play for Coach Lavin and do what I can to help us be a successful team this season."
In 1999-2000, Kapono, a 6-7, 199-pounder, led the Bruins in scoring (16.0), was fourth in rebounding (4.4) and was one of only two Bruins (Earl Watson) to start all 33 games. His 16.0 scoring average was the highest by a freshman in the Pacific-10 last season and it was the second-highest single-season mark in UCLA freshman history, behind only Don MacLean's 18.6 in 1988-89.
Kapono also set the UCLA single-season three-point (made) record with 82, breaking the old school record of 78, set by Tracy Murray in 1992. Kapono's 2000 honors included CBS SportsLine National Freshman of the Year and the Pac-10 co-Freshman of the Year. Prior to UCLA, Kapono was a McDonald's All-America as a senior in 1999 at Artesia HS in Lakewood.
With Kapono's return, the Bruins will now have three returning starters from last year's NCAA "Sweet 16" squad - senior guard Earl Watson, junior center Dan Gadzuric and Kapono. Also returning will be six lettermen - junior guard/forwards Billy Knight and Todd Ramasar, senior guard Ryan Bailey, senior guard/forward Rico Hines, junior forward Matt Barnes and junior guard Ray Young, along with senior guard Jason Flowers, who sat out last season after transferring from UC Irvine. Newcomers to the roster will be incoming freshman recruits - 6-9 T. J. Cummings, from Homewood-Flossmore HS in Homewood, IL, who is the son of NBA and DePaul standout Terry Cummings, along with 6-8 Josiah Johnson, from Montclair Prep and Los Angeles, who is the son of NBA and UCLA standout Marques Johnson.
"Of course we are very pleased to have Jason returning to our team," said Bruin head coach Steve Lavin. "Jason was very deliberate in his approach to exploring his future in basketball at the next level. Jason decided that even though he would be a first round draft choice this year, he wanted to come back to our UCLA family for another year of education and basketball. As our leading scorer from last season, his return solidifies our chances of again being one of the nation's top teams for the coming season."