College Basketball Nation: J'Mison Morgan

Bracket reveal: Charleston Classic

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
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Tournament bracket for the 2012 Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant

When and where: Nov. 15-16, 18 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.

Initial thoughts: This could turn out to be one of the better nonconference tournaments. ... Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight last season, Murray State went 31-2 and returns the bulk of its team and Colorado beat UNLV in the NCAA tourney and has plenty of momentum under Tad Boyle. ... Some of the country’s top freshmen post players will be in action. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin is projected as a top-five pick in next summer’s NBA draft. His teammate, Ricardo Gathers, was a top-40 recruit along with Colorado’s Josh Scott. ... It will be good to see St. John’s coach Steve Lavin back on the sideline. Lavin missed almost all of last season while recovering from prostate cancer. ... Archie Miller won 20 games in his first season as Dayton’s head coach in 2011-12. Will be interesting to see how the Flyers follow up. ... It also will be interesting to see what kind of improvements -- if any -- have been made at Auburn, which is regarded as one of the worst programs in the SEC but has recruited well lately. ... After the retirement of Bobby Cremins, College of Charleston has a new coach in Doug Wojcik, who spent the past seven seasons at Tulsa.

Matchup I can't wait to see: Dayton vs. Colorado. Of the four first-round games, this is probably the only one where both teams have the potential to earn NCAA tournament at-large berths. Colorado touts a potential lottery pick in forward Andre Roberson, who ranked fourth in the country in rebounding last season with 11.1 boards per game. Dayton returns three of its top five scorers, including Josh Benson, who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury.

[+] EnlargePierre Jackson
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireBaylor's Pierre Jackson, one of the nation's quickest point guards, has some sizeable help down low.
Potential matchup I'd like to see: Baylor vs. Murray State. Event organizers -- and college basketball fans -- would certainly be pleased with a championship game featuring two of the top five point guards in the nation. Pierre Jackson (Baylor) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), both Cousy Award finalists a year ago, would put on a hell of a show. The game, however, would likely be decided in the frontcourt. Murray’s Ed Daniel is poised for a breakthrough season, but the Racers might have trouble matching Baylor’s overall size and depth down low.

Five players to watch

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: The 7-foot freshman has a unique skill set. On offense, Austin is hardly limited to the paint. He has a nice touch from mid-range and can also handle the ball on the perimeter and swish 3-pointers. Austin is also expected to be one of the nation’s top shot-blockers.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: There may not be a better all-around point guard in the nation. Canaan shoots from long range, slashes to the basket with ferocity and generally makes good decisions. He averaged 19.0 points last season for a squad that went 31-2.

D'Angelo Harrison, St. John’s: As painful as it was to lose Maurice Harkless to the NBA draft, the Red Storm couldn’t be more excited about the return of Harrison, a shooting guard who averaged a team-high 16.8 points last season. Harrison, though, shot just 37 percent from the field, a number that will have to improve in 2012-13.

Pierre Jackson, Baylor: The 5-foot-10 junior-college transfer changed the culture of Baylor’s entire program last season by bringing swagger to a squad that was often criticized for being soft. Jackson averaged a team-high 13.8 points and 5.9 assists. There might not be a quicker point guard in America.

Andre Roberson, Colorado: The 6-7 Roberson may be a bit undersized in the paint, but that hardly showed last season when he averaged 11.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for a team that won the Pac-12 tournament before upsetting UNLV for its first NCAA victory in 15 years. Roberson will likely be a first-round pick in next summer’s NBA draft.

Title-game prediction

Baylor over Murray State: Isaiah Austin, Ricardo Gathers, Cory Jefferson and J’Mison Morgan will be too much for the Racers down low.

Whom others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Baylor over St. John's
Andy Katz: Baylor over Murray State
Myron Medcalf: Baylor over Murray State
Dana O'Neil: Murray State over Colorado

UCLA's No. 1 class no guarantee of success

September, 6, 2011
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UCLA coach Ben Howland told Andy Katz that guard Jerime Anderson will miss a few games after being arrested in July in connection with the theft of a laptop. While that means Anderson is expected to be sidelined for more than the team's regular-season opener, as had been previously announced, it also puts the senior on track for possible reinstatement by the time the Bruins leave for Hawaii to play in the championship round of the Maui Invitational and open with Chaminade.

That will be big for a team that is short on guards. But discussion of the suspension status of the last remaining member of the nation's top-ranked recruiting class of 2008 heading into the senior year was far from what was expected.

When UCLA brought in five top-50 recruits coming off a third straight Final Four appearance, there were expectations that more big-time success was on the way for Howland.

Thus far, those recruits have combined to win two NCAA tournament games, and the two McDonald's All-Americans in the group -- Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee -- ended up becoming NBA draft picks.

But Holiday left after one so-so season, and Lee perhaps bolted too early and became a second-round pick rather than bolster a Bruins roster for this coming season.

Drew Gordon clashed with Howland and left the program midseason before transferring to New Mexico. J'mison Morgan was dismissed from the team and went to Baylor.

Anderson had been a disappointment for UCLA because of his inability to hold a starting job, and it's his off-the-court incident that generated bad offseason headlines.

It was a long time ago when the five-player class looked so cheerful the day it posed for pictures for a feature story in UCLA Magazine called "Hoop Dreams."
When asked a serious question about team goals, however, all five freshmen adamantly agree: Nothing short of a Pac-10 championship, followed by an NCAA national championship, will do.

"That's the goal here at UCLA, period, for any sport to win the national championship, you know? It's not just us," Anderson says. "I want to see that happen for the seniors, who've been there three times in a row. Definitely, that's what I want to see."

Now it will be left up to Anderson, who after serving his suspension will get one final chance at achieving what the group originally set out to do.

Perry Jones III makes jaw-dropping move

April, 11, 2011
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For the news conference to announce his NBA draft decision, Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones III sat in between his parents wearing a T-shirt featuring an image of Michael Jordan.

Jones, the one-and-done-talent who the NCAA ruled ineligible last month, then did the unthinkable. He declared he was staying in school.

Bears coach Scott Drew said teammate Quincy Acy's jaw dropped, and according to the Baylor Lariat, "Jones' teammates then burst into applause, handclaps and high pitched screaming."

The reaction was warranted, as Jones' decision to return to the team next season was simply stunning. Rare is the potential lottery pick who gets penalized by the NCAA and then decides to stick to the system and continue playing college ball.

“The whole college experience with my teammates. That was a big part of this decision," Jones told reporters. "Having fun with them. Just enjoying everything, just enjoying life with them. I do not want to cut that short and just leave out of nowhere. I want to have another good time like I did this year."

The 6-foot-11 Jones averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds before the NCAA sat him out for the team's loss in the Big 12 tournament and also suspended him for the first five games of next season if he returned to school. The NCAA ruled he and his family received impermissible benefits.

Jones was willing to pay that price for another year to grow in the program, and he'll have plenty of talent around him. Acy, J'mison Morgan and top incoming freshman Quincy Miller help him form a strong frontcourt. Baylor is also adding guards in Deuce Bello and Cal transfer Gary Franklin.

Jones' return is an added bonus for Drew, whose team should be highly regarded in the preseason.

"Every year you just see him getting better and better, because he is so full of potential and as long as he keeps that work ethic and keeps that drive to get better, which is God-given as well," Drew told reporters.

Morgan explains his transfer situation

September, 14, 2010
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It's clear at this point that the NCAA lacks uniformity in allowing some players to get out of sitting out the year-in-residence requirement for transfers.

Each case is taken on its own and there is room for debate as to why some are granted and others aren't -- whether it's for an extenuating circumstances for a family illness or with the graduate waiver for a player who finishes school and is pursuing a grad degree at another school that isn't offered at the previous school.

This week, J'mison Morgan got a waiver to play immediately at Baylor after playing the past two seasons at UCLA.

Morgan said his grandmother, Dolores Brooks, who is his legal guardian and lives in nearby Dallas, has colon cancer. He said she has had it for the past two-plus years and it has "gotten worse and worse."

"I wanted to be closer to home," Morgan said. "That's who I lived with my entire life."

Morgan said he plans on seeing his grandmother as much as possible and hopes to see her on weekends.

"It's not hard to go from Baylor to Dallas," Morgan said. "Basically it's in the terminal stage. They're doing chemo now as the last resort or else there is nothing else they can do."

Morgan said he is pointing to the Dec. 18 game in Dallas at American Airlines Arena against Gonzaga as a game he hopes his grandmother can see.

"That's the plan," Morgan said. "She wants to be healthy enough to see this."

Morgan said he would've stuck with Baylor even if he hadn't been allowed to play right away. He said he knew in the spring quarter he wanted to leave and transfer closer to home.

"Playing this year wasn't a factor, it was for her," Morgan said. "My case is real. This should be a rule, but I know some people have tried to misuse it. The NCAA has to use the best judgment of what's real and what's not."

According to one source, the NCAA has done a better job of tightening up the reasons for allowing the waiver due to health reasons of a relative.

Now that Morgan is going to play this season at Baylor, he immediately gives the Bears another big body up front. Morgan has battled injuries from a meniscus tear and a quad strain that limited his play at UCLA. He saw limited time for the Bruins last season with 8.7 minutes a game, averaging 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 center could be the primary backup to highly touted freshman Perry Jones.

"I think I can help our team defensively and rebounding-wise," Morgan said. "I want to help in the zone. I can be a big body who block shots. Perry is incredible. He's incredible to watch. He does something new every day. It's a joy to play with him."

Baylor gets J'Mison Morgan this fall

September, 13, 2010
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Usually, by the time mid-September rolls around, college basketball lineups are set. Sure, there are a few eligibility concerns to be dealt with here and there (apparently, someone named Enes Kanter is still trying to get eligible; have you guys heard about that?). But for the most part, it's rare to get this close to Midnight Madness and still see roster situations in flux.

Which is why Baylor's enthusiastic Monday morning news announcement comes as a major surprise. That announcement? UCLA transfer J'Mison Morgan was granted his waiver transfer request by the NCAA and will be eligible to play for the Bears in 2010-11, pending his completion of the necessary NCAA paperwork. Usually, transfers sit out for a year and return to their new teams the season after their transfer, but not this time. Morgan will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Baylor fans have to be awfully happy about that, but the real boon is for the coming year. Baylor lost forward Ekpe Udoh, its best interior player from 2009-10's Elite Eight team, to the NBA draft lottery in June. Morgan isn't a must-have for Baylor -- with the return of center Quincy Acy and the introduction of uber-recruit Perry Jones, Baylor's frontcourt was already going to remain formidable. But the 6-foot-10 Morgan is undeniably talented (he was the No. 4-rated forward in the class of 2008) and does have some college basketball experience, despite his limited production under coach Ben Howland at UCLA. If anything, he's an insurance policy, the type of player that can fill in for Jones if the highly rated freshman needs time to figure out the college game.

Of course, Morgan himself is a risk. He was dismissed by Howland in March after another disappointing, injury-riddled season. Among other presumed slights, Morgan was suspended early in the year for missing a team meeting, and he also didn't play in the Pac-10 tournament. In his two-year career, he's averaged 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds. Needless to say, he has not been productive.

Still, the Bears don't need Morgan to be brilliant. They already have some very good frontcourt players, and plenty of scoring at the guard position in player of the year candidate LaceDarius Dunn. They just need Morgan to show up. Thanks to the NCAA's waiver, he'll do that even sooner than expected.

The Bears were already looking like an Elite Eight team. With Morgan on board, they assume more risk -- but if things work out, the payoff will be well worth it.

Academics cause Washington State transfer

June, 8, 2010
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James Watson had quite a life story to tell during his time at Washington State, and unfortunately for the freshman, his basketball career will now be taking a detour because of academics.

Watson, a 6-foot-7 forward who appeared in 29 of the Cougars' 31 games this season, was declared academically ineligible for the fall semester and will transfer to a junior college rather than sit out during that time.

"We wish James nothing but the best," Wazzu coach Ken Bone said in a statement.

Here's the updated list to all the West Coast transfers from this offseason.

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson, Victor Rudd

Boise State: Tyler Young

BYU: Michael Loyd Jr.

Cal: D.J. Seeley , Omondi Amoke (dismissed)

Cal State Bakersfield: Marcus Hall

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly, Mychal Ladd

Gonzaga: Grant Gibbs, G.J. Vilarino

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown, Colt Idol

Nevada: London Giles

New Mexico: Nate Garth, Will Brown (dismissed)

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey, Josh Crittle

Pacific: Royal Edwards, Sterling Carter, Everson Lacerda

Pepperdine: Andy Shannon

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn , Nikola Stojiljkovic

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UC Davis: Julian Welch, Adam Malik

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (dismissed), Davis Rozitis

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Utah State: Anthony DiLoreto (dismissed), Modou Niang, Tyrone White, Jaxon Myaer

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen, James Watson

Weber State: Franklin Session

Pac-10 loses another transfer

May, 13, 2010
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Freshman forward Victor Rudd has received his scholarship release from Arizona State, becoming the fourth player on the team to transfer.

The 6-foot-7 Rudd averaged 6.2 minutes in the 15 games he played. He's the second player in the Sun Devils' recruiting class from only a year ago to depart.

Here are the rest of the players on the West Coast known to be transferring, including a bevy leaving behind the Pac-10:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson, Victor Rudd

Boise State: Tyler Young

BYU: Michael Loyd Jr.

Cal: D.J. Seeley , Omondi Amoke (dismissed)

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly

Gonzaga: Grant Gibbs, G.J. Vilarino

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown, Colt Idol

Nevada: London Giles

New Mexico: Nate Garth

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey

Pacific: Royal Edwards, Sterling Carter, Everson Lacerda

Pepperdine: Andy Shannon

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn , Nikola Stojiljkovic

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UC Davis: Julian Welch, Adam Malik

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Utah State: Anthony DiLoreto (dismissed), Modou Niang, Tyrone White, Jaxon Myaer

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

Weber State: Franklin Session

New Mexico loses an unsurprising transfer

May, 7, 2010
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New Mexico has announced that Nate Garth will transfer after the sophomore guard asked for and received his scholarship release Thursday.

Attrition was expected since the Lobos, with Arizona State transfer Demetrius Walker set to arrive, had run out of scholarships. If Darington Hobson were to withdraw from the NBA draft, the Mountain West champs could very well see another player leave the program.

Garth, meanwhile, is expected to transfer closer to home in California.

On with another updated West Coast transfers list:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson

Boise State: Tyler Young

BYU: Michael Loyd Jr.

Cal: D.J. Seeley , Omondi Amoke (dismissed)

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly

Gonzaga: Grant Gibbs

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown, Colt Idol

Nevada: London Giles

New Mexico: Nate Garth

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey

Pepperdine: Andy Shannon

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn , Nikola Stojiljkovic

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UC Davis: Julian Welch, Adam Malik

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Utah State: Anthony DiLoreto (dismissed)

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

Weber State: Franklin Session

Former Ute Brown looking at NBA

April, 30, 2010
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Carlon Brown opted to transfer from Utah after his junior season, and now he's entered the NBA draft while also looking at options on where he might play his senior season.

Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard, led the Utes in scoring with 12.6 points per game and apparently is drawing some NBA interest.

He has reportedly explored Colorado and Kent State as possibilities in the likely scenario that he removes his name from the draft.

On with the rest of the updated West Coast transfers list:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson

BYU: Michael Loyd Jr.

Cal: D.J. Seeley

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay, Aleksandar Milovic

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown, Colt Idol

Nevada: London Giles

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matthew Humphrey

Pepperdine: Andy Shannon

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn , Nikola Stojiljkovic

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

Weber State: Franklin Session

Morgan the next Udoh for Baylor?

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
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Baylor today announced the addition of former UCLA center J'mison Morgan to its roster, hoping to strike gold once again with a big man transfer.

Morgan didn't live up to the hype at UCLA and didn't play many minutes before being dismissed from the team this offseason, but the Bears are hopeful the talent he showed in high school will show up.

"His size, strength and shot-blocking ability will fit into our system nicely," Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Morgan at 6-foot-10 is the same height as Ekpe Udoh, who also transferred with two years to play and only needed one to get to the Elite Eight and put himself in position to be an NBA draft pick.

The difference, however, is Udoh flashed plenty of potential while already at Michigan while Morgan has battled injuries, been suspended and failed to impress on the court as well.

There's been a few strikes against Morgan, who didn't fit in with Ben Howland's defensive standards, but that doesn't mean it's too late for him to contribute.

He'll now be sitting out year and hoping to find a more comfortable situation close to home.

Exodus from the Pac-10 continues

April, 21, 2010
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The Pac-10 used to lose players to the NBA, but this offseason, they're simply leaving for other schools.

Freshman forward Clarence Trent Wednesday became the latest player to bolt and find a new home elsewhere, transferring from Washington across town to play for former Huskies assistant Cameron Dollar, now the head coach at Seattle.

Freshman guard Demetrius Walker verbally committed Tuesday to transfer to New Mexico after cutting his stay at Arizona State short and visiting Albuquerque over the weekend.

The 6-foot-5 Trent, who earlier this month also left the football team, and sophomore guard Elston Turner are leaving a Sweet 16 team. Walker nearly got to the NCAA tournament with the Sun Devils, who finished second in the conference's regular season standings.

But they didn't receive as much playing time as they wanted.

"The reality is you have schools that play eight or nine guys," Dollar explained. "Something has to give."

On with the ever-expanding West Coast transfers list:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson

Cal: D.J. Seeley

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling, Taylor Kelly

Hawaii: Jeremy Lay

Loyola Marymount: Kevin Young

Montana State: Austin Brown

Oregon: Drew Wiley, Matt Humphrey

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Lateef McMullan, Konner Veteto

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Washington: Elston Turner, Clarence Trent

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

Weber State: Franklin Session

Source: Demetrius Walker to visit New Mexico

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
1:25
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Freshman Demetrius Walker, who once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the nation's best eighth-grade player, has received his scholarship release from Arizona State and is scheduled to visit to New Mexico this weekend, a source close to the situation told me.

A 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard, Walker showed flashes of his scoring ability while averaging 4 points and 10.5 minutes in 23 games for the Sun Devils, but was limited in playing time late in the season.

Walker could be a good fit for New Mexico, as he could sit out a year due to transfer rules while guard Dairese Gary plays his senior season.

Arizona State has also granted releases to sophomore Taylor Rohde and freshman Brandon Thompson.

Here's the latest edition of the West Coast transfers list:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Arizona State: Demetrius Walker, Taylor Rohde, Brandon Thompson

Cal: D.J. Seeley

Fresno State: Brandon Sperling

Montana State: Austin Brown

Oregon: Drew Wiley (reportedly)

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed), Mike Moser

UC Riverside: Dwight Gordon

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Marshall Henderson, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

UCLA's Moser to transfer

April, 5, 2010
4/05/10
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Freshman Mike Moser will transfer from UCLA, the school announced today.

The 6-foot-8 forward was rated the nation's No. 55 player in the country by ESPNU coming out of high school and signed with UCLA after decommitting from Arizona when Lute Olson left.

Moser ended up averaging only 4.7 minutes in the 15 games he played and became the second UCLA player to depart this offseason, with center J'mison Morgan being dismissed last week.

"He has a great attitude, and I'm supportive of him finding a chance to play more minutes than we envision he will have here," coach Ben Howland said of Moser in a statement.

Report: Demetrius Walker to transfer from ASU

April, 2, 2010
4/02/10
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Sports Illustrated had Demetrius Walker on its cover at age 14 and asked the question in a 2005 feature story: "The next LeBron?"

Fast forward to today, and the Arizona Republic is reporting that the freshman guard has asked for his scholarship release at Arizona State after playing sparingly down the stretch for the Sun Devils.

The school has yet to officially announce a release for Walker, who averaged 4 points in the 23 games he played.

He'd end up being one of many players in the West looking to transfer. Here are the others:

Arizona: D.J. Shumpert

Cal: D.J. Seeley

Montana State: Austin Brown

San Francisco: Kwame Vaughn

Santa Clara: Troy Alexander

UCLA: J'mison Morgan (dismissed)

UC Riverside: Dwight Gordon

USC: Leonard Washington (reportedly dismissed)

Utah: Carlon Brown, Jordan Cyphers, Matt Read, Chris Hines (reportedly)

Washington State: Xavier Thames, Michael Harthun, Anthony Brown, John Allen

Howland admits recruiting mistakes

March, 3, 2010
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UCLA coach Ben Howland is opening up a little more about what's led to this year's 13-15 team. What's to blame? His recruiting, he says.

From an interview with Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers:
"You can say I know failure because that's what it has been relative to our expectations here," he says. "It's no fun. I have sleepless nights wondering how the heck did we get here.

"But all of it starts right here with me. I'm in charge of making this program competitive year after year, but I did a poor job of evaluation of some of our recruits — from a talent, as well as a character standpoint."

As Howland talks, it sounds as if there is a lot more to be said about what is going on internally with this present group of Bruins.

It's an interesting choice of words because while Howland takes the blame, he does spread it around to his players when he starts talking about character.

Take the players who left for the NBA early -- Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday -- out of the equation, and those who Howland was left to rely on during a rebuilding year clearly didn't resemble some of his tough-minded teams of the past.

His senior class is made up of role players from his Final Four teams: Michael Roll, James Keefe and Nikola Dragovic, who has twice been arrested and suspended during his career.

There's not a single junior on the roster since Chace Stanback transferred (and is now flourishing at UNLV).

Howland clashed with sophomore forward Drew Gordon, who transferred to New Mexico. Guard Jerime Anderson and 6-foot-10 center J'mison Morgan have disappointed while McDonald's All-American Malcolm Lee is out of place at point guard, a position of need when Holiday caught Howland somewhat off-guard by being a one-and-done.

Freshmen forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson have shown all-conference ability, but others in that class have struggled to get playing time.

It's a mix that has left the team lacking athleticism and Howland grudgingly utilizing a zone defense and deflecting questions about the NIT when his team is just struggling to reach .500.

There's still two more games and the Pac-10 tournament left, but Bruins are already looking to the future.

UPDATE: Morgan has been suspended for Thursday's Arizona game due to a violation of team rules.

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