UCLA: J'mison Morgan

Players reject SI allegations against Nelson

May, 23, 2012
Former UCLA player Reeves Nelson filed a lawsuit against Sports Illustrated and reporter George Dohrmann Wednesday and the suit includes declarations from 18 current and former UCLA players who reject various claims made in a March Sports Illustrated article that depicted Nelson as a boorish player with a propensity for violence and out-of-control behavior.

Some, such as Drew Grodon, and Tyler Trapani, were alleged victims of Nelson's violent antics who said Nelson never did to them what the Sports Illustrated story said. Others, such as Blake Arnet and Alex Schrempf, said they spoke with Dohrmann and told him the information he had was incorrect only to see it end up in print anyway.

All of them disagreed with the Sports Illustrated depiction of Nelson as a player who intentionally injured teammates and was coddled by coach Ben Howland, who turned a blind eye to Nelson's transgressions.

"I never saw Nelson intentionally hurt or intentionally try to hurt any member of the UCLA basketball team or staff, nor do I believe that Nelson ever intentionally hurt or tried to hurt any member of the UCLA basketball team or staff," reads a passage in each of the 18 declarations. "I did not observe and do not believe that Coach Howland favored Nelson over the other players in any fashion, not with respect to discipline or anything else."

Some players addressed specific incidents alleged in the article. Gordon, for instance, was reported to have gotten into an off-campus fight with Nelson that resulted in a black eye for Gordon, but Gordon's declaration stated "The article’s description of Nelson’s behavior toward me is false. We have never had a fight, not at a teammate’s apartment or anywhere else, nor has Nelson ever given me a black eye from a fight or otherwise."

The Sports Illustrated story also reported that Schrempf, a former UCLA walk-on, suffered a serious back injury as a result of a Nelson attack during practice. Schrempf's declaration said that never happened. In his declaration, Schrempf acknowledged speaking with Dohrmann but told Dohrmann his facts were wrong.

"During our conversation, Dohrmann specifically told me that he had 'heard' that Nelson intentionally injured me during practice by knocking me to the ground from behind," Schrempf's statement says. "According to Dohrmann’s 'source,' Nelson’s conduct caused me to suffer a serious back injury. I explained to Dohrmann that this version of events was incorrect."

(Read full post)

Basketball faces uncertain future

April, 8, 2010
Three weeks ago, we projected next season's basketball depth chart. Well, so much for projections.

Sophomore center J'mison Morgan was dismissed from the program and freshman guard Mike Moser announced his decision to transfer. On top of that, freshman forward Brendan Lane is slated to be out five months while recovering from left ankle surgery. All three weren't necessarily slated to be starters on next year's squad, but each case affects UCLA.

Morgan was a potential backup for incoming freshman center Josh Smith. Moser was a versatile guard who could play the two or the three. Lane will be back in time for the season, but missing the summer could be disastrous for a player looking to add bulk and improve in the post.

That only leaves Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson, Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson and Anthony Stover on the current active roster -- not a good sign for a program looking to bounce back from a rough season.

Moser's announcement should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, the Portland, Ore. native played a total of only 70 minutes this past season. And that was on a bad, bad team.

During postgame conferences with reporters, coach Ben Howland often complained about the lack of depth and the immense amount of minutes Lee and fellow guard Michael Roll were playing. Roll and Lee led the team with an average of 36 and 35 minutes played per game, respectively.

Moser, meanwhile, spent his time sitting on the bench. His decision to leave can't really be questioned.

"The way the season worked out for me this year, I feel it is necessary for me personally, to make a move somewhere else so I can play," Moser said in a statement released by the school. "I have enjoyed my time here at UCLA and have built great relationships with my coaches and teammates."

But what kind of relationships are brewing on the current roster? The two transfers plus Drew Gordon's departure early last season make three for Howland this past year. Assistant coach Donny Daniels left the program too (for the same position at Gonzaga).

There may be more on the way. According to ESPN Insider, Lee is a projected late-first round pick in the NBA Draft.

What awaits around the corner? Stay tuned...

Mike Moser to transfer

April, 5, 2010
At this rate, UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland might not have any players to work with next season.

UCLA Athletics Freshman Mike Moser became the latest player to announce his decision to leave UCLA.

Freshman guard Mike Moser became the latest evacuee on Monday afternoon, announcing that he will transfer following the spring quarter. J'mison Morgan, a sophomore center, was "dismissed" from the team last week. Freshman forward Brendan Lane will be out for five months after having surgery to repair a left ankle injury.

"The way the season worked out for me this year, I feel it is necessary for me personally, to make a move somewhere else so I can play," Moser said through a statement released by the program. "I have enjoyed my time here at UCLA and have built great relationships with my coaches and teammates. I’m going to stay in Division I and haven’t spoken to anyone at all about playing. I won’t rush into a decision. I’ll just wait and see what happens in the next few weeks."

Moser, a Portland, Ore. native, played in just 15 games last season, averaging 0.6 points and 0.5 rebounds per appearance. He made a habit of working out late after home games, often staying to work on his dribbling and perimeter shooting.

"Mike is a good kid, a great student and a very hard worker," Howland said. "I have enjoyed having him in our program. He has a great attitude and I’m supportive of him finding a program where he will have a chance to play more minutes than we envision he will have here."

What has gone wrong with UCLA basketball?

March, 10, 2010
If there's a bright side to UCLA's disastrous 13-17 season, it's that UCLA fans don't need to worry about anyone leaving early for the NBA.

For now, at least.

But the fact that not one player is even thinking about jumping to the league is a cause for concern. It's a pick-your-poison situation, really. Needless to say, coach Ben Howland has missed on some players, or else there would be some rumbling about possible early exits.

UCLA fans were spoiled with guards Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook making Final Four runs. Jerime Anderson, the guy who was supposed to be next in line, has not shown any resemblance to them.

In order for the Bruins to stay atop the Pacific 10 Conference, Anderson had to take over for Collison -- just as Collison did for Farmar and Westbrook did for Afflalo. But Anderson has underperformed, losing his starting spot earlier this season. The sophomore was so bad that Howland was forced to move Malcolm Lee from the off guard position to a ball-handling role.

Lee has struggled there too, at times too sped up to think. His decision-making has been spotty at best. Lee has committed a team-high 82 turnovers. Anderson has 62 while averaging 10 minutes less.

On offense, Anderson is as reluctant with the ball as Farmar, Collison and Westbrook are assertive in the NBA. Granted, the three former players were also restricted by Howland's limit-the-possessions philosophy (let's just say guards dribble more than they drive). But unlike Anderson, the preceding guards showed glimpses of greatness when the clock was winding down and they had the ball in their hands.

Anderson has not.

Howland's misjudgments are not limited to the back court. Six-foot-10 center J'mison Morgan, a former five-star prospect who had conditioning problems coming in, was supposed to be thrive in Howland's methodical and slow-paced offense. Instead, Morgan has seen the kind of minutes that are more appropriately suited for walk-ons.

Morgan is adequate with his back to the basket and can block shots when he finds a defensive rhythm. That's really all we can draw from his two seasons in Westwood. Many expected Morgan to be great (i.e. Kevin Love), but he doesn't rebound with the aggressiveness of No. 42.

If you're seeking an explanation for UCLA's fifth-place finish in the conference, look no further than the Bruins' bench, where Anderson and Morgan have become staples.

(Read full post)

There was good news and bad news for UCLA as it heads to the desert for a pair of games against the Arizona schools.

The good news is freshman Reeves Nelson (left eye) was medically cleared to play. He practiced today after sitting out both games last weekend against Oregon and Oregon State as he recovered from laser-eye surgery.

The bad news is sophomore J'mison Morgan was suspended for Thursday's game at Arizona for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The suspension is the latest setback for the former five-star center prospect who to this point has seemingly yet to fully grasp coach Ben Howland's system.

Morgan played only two minutes in Saturday's two-point home loss to Oregon, though Nelson was sidelined and Brendan Lane played on a bad ankle.

On another note, senior forward Nikola Dragovic (left shouler and right ankle) fully participated in today's practice and should ready for Thursday night's game against Arizona at Tucson.
A large number of fans remained scattered throughout Pauley Pavilion nearly an hour after UCLA's 70-68 loss to Oregon on Saturday afternoon.

Children ran around pulling on their jerseys, holding pens and programs, scavenging for leading scorers Michael Roll and Malcolm Lee.

A line gathered around Nikola Dragovic too. The senior signed autographs and posed for pictures whenever he was approached. Dragovic had a smile for every flash, though he might have very well been the unhappiest person in the building.

In his final home game, a season-long trend continued -- Dragovic left something to be desired. He scored seven points, missing all but one of his six 3-point attempts. Despite staying around the paint on the defensive end, the 6-foot-9 forward grabbed only one rebound in 34 minutes. Oregon capitalized inside, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds and scoring 13 second-chance points.

A more frightening thought? Roll and Lee, mostly perimeter players who were busy chasing around Tajuan Porter, combined for seven rebounds. Dragovic played 11 more minutes than freshman Brendan Lane, yet Lane had four more rebounds.

Granted, none of this comes as a surprise. Dragovic will not be winning any athletic competitions any time soon, but a freak accident during pregame warm-ups didn't help his cause. Dragovic said he rolled his right ankle when he landed on a ball two minutes before tip-off.

"It happens," he said with a shrug.

Coach Ben Howland said he was notified of the injury just moments before the start of the game. But how does he justify playing 6-foot-10 center J'mison Morgan just two minutes while the Ducks were having their way on the glass? How does Dragovic get 34 minutes on a bad ankle? How does Lane, who was dealing with ankle issues too, get 23 minutes? Howland's choice of player rotation was just one of the things that seemed puzzling Saturday.

Dragovic wore a protective boot following the game and added that X-rays would be taken Sunday morning. He said he would be sidelined until at least Wednesday. Dragovic had been questionable for Saturday's game after sustaining a left-shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball on Thursday. Yet, he went into the treatment room at 8 a.m. Saturday for a cortisone shot and was able to play through the pain.

"I could shoot at least," Dragovic said.

Like many times this season, shooting with accuracy was his problem.

The Tyler Honeycutt Show

February, 25, 2010
Reeves Nelson and Brendan Lane were in street clothes on Thursday night, meaning coach Ben Howland would be without two of his big men against Oregon State.

Due to the injuries, senior Nikola Dragovic shifted to the center spot -- though the term is used loosely since the 6-foot-9 forward hovered around the three-point line anyway. Without an inside presence, UCLA allowed 21 offensive rebounds, yet still found a way to win 65-56 at Pauley Pavilion.

Freshman Tyler Honeycutt, the best rebounder on the team, was a big part of that. The lanky 6-foot-7 forward stepped up in Nelson's absence, posting his third double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The 18 points were a career-high (previous was 14) for Honeycutt, who also had a career-high five blocked shots.

"I knew I was going to have to rebound a lot more, especially because we were smaller," Honeycutt said afterward.

No other UCLA player had more than three rebounds. Dragovic grabbed two in 35 minutes and sophomore J'mison Morgan, who stands at 6-foot-10, did not have any in 12 minutes.

"They have a freshman [Honeycutt] who stood up and played like a senior tonight," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said.

Morgan got an opportunity just three minutes in when Howland called on him after Dragovic injured his shoulder while diving for a loose ball. He received a nice response after blocking a shot, but then missed a dunk shortly after to balance his book. With Honeycutt playing the way he was, Morgan took a seat next to Nelson for much of the second half.

When Howland interrupted the course of his press conference to ask Honeycutt how many double-doubles he had this season, Honeycutt answered correctly.

"That’s great, see, he knows," Howland said with a wide grin. "It’s a good thing to know. We want him to know. There’s no such thing as a selfish rebounder."

Having lost three of four heading into Thursday, UCLA sure needed one.
Freshman forward Brendan Lane is out for tonight's game against Oregon State.

He was listed as a game-time decision but is still wearing a protective boot on his left foot after spraining his ankle in practice Tuesday. Freshman Reeves Nelson (left eye) and James Keefe (left shoulder) are standing next to him as UCLA warms up.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion.

Two possibilities for coach Ben Howland: start sophomore J'mison Morgan at center or have Jerime Anderson start at point guard. If Anderson starts, Malcolm Lee would slide to his natural position at shooting guard. Michael Roll would play small forward.
With the status of UCLA freshman forwards Reeves Nelson (left eye surgery) and Brendan Lane (left ankle sprain) in doubt for Thursday night's game against Oregon State, little-used sophomore center J'mison Morgan instantaneously becomes more important.

Morgan (also known as "Bobo") is a former five-star recruitwho has yet to make an impact in Westwood. In other words, when questioning whether or not coach Ben Howland has whiffed on the evaluation and projection of some current players, look no further than Bobo.

Morgan made his only shot attempt in Saturday's ugly loss at Washington and grabbed three rebounds in 13 minutes. He is a solid shot-blocker, but the fact that both Nelson and Lane have passed him in Howland's rotation can't be overlooked.

Sure, Morgan has trimmed down since he first arrived from Dallas, Texas, but should it really take nearly two years to learn a defensive scheme?

If Nelson and Lane are unable to take the floor Thursday, we'll get a good look at Morgan. What he'll do with the increase in minutes is anyone's guess.

James Keefe opts for surgery

February, 18, 2010
Time for some trivia.

What do Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez, Spencer Hawes and UCLA's James Keefe have in common?

Answer: the four were teammates on the West squad in the 2006 McDonald's All-American Game. Durant, Lopez and Hawes are in the NBA. Keefe, meanwhile, is done at UCLA after opting to have season-ending shoulder surgery.

"I'm very disappointed to be ending my senior year early," Keefe said in a statement released by the school. "I would have liked to have been able to come back and finish my final season, but as of now, I'm unable to play and my shoulder hasn't improved."

Keefe suffered his latest left-shoulder injury in practice last week. He had dislocated the same shoulder in a game earlier this season and had trouble with it in the preseason. Keefe missed the first 12 games of his sophomore season after having surgery in August 2007 to repair a torn labrum. He was supposed to redshirt that season but returned because the team needed depth in the front court.

"I am very disappointed and sad that James Keefe has had to go through all of these issues with his shoulder this year," coach Ben Howland said. "He has handled it very well and I know he is disappointed that he won't be able to finish his senior year."

Howland was hoping Keefe would be available for UCLA's final four regular-season games.

If there is a bright side, it's that freshman Brendan Lane will have an opportunity to gain experience. Little-used center J'mison Morgan, a sophomore, also played considerable minutes in Thursday night's game against Washington State.
UCLA coach Ben Howland opened his weekly news conference Tuesday by saying senior James Keefe (shoulder) is "unlikely" to play during the team's trip to the Washington schools this weekend.

Keefe sat out UCLA's 68-64 loss at USC on Sundayafter having an MRI exam on his dislocated left shoulder. Howland said the exam results showed nothing new. The coach says he hopes Keefe will be able to play in the Bruins' last four regular season games.

"I think he's going to need surgery once the year is over," Howland added. "It's pretty clear that that [doctors] are going to have to go back in there and take a look."

Freshman Brendan Lane made his first career start Sunday but said he had "no idea" if he'd do the same on Thursday at Washington State.

"[Howland] wouldn't have started me if he wasn't comfortable in me," Lane said. "I know I was comfortable out there."

UCLA didn't lose much with Keefe out. Lane scored two points and grabbed two rebounds in 16 minutes. Keefe, meanwhile, had been averaging about the same (2.2 points and 2.8 rebounds) in 16 minutes per game. The bleak offensive numbers mean nothing in Howland's defense-first system -- and Lane knows that.

"Every game I have to focus defensively," Lane said. "That's the best way for me to get out there -- box out, rebound, play tough defense. The offense is going to come eventually."

The other option at center is freshman Reeves Nelson, though Howland prefers to bring him off the bench to keep him out of foul trouble. Nelson, who made 10 starts before Keefe returned from a previous injury, ranks second in the Pacific 10 Conference in field-goal percentage (63 percent). Nelson said he does not care whether he starts.

"That's up to coach," he added. "Whatever is best for the team."

Howland also included sophomore J'mison Morgan in his list of possibilities. Morgan has not played in 10 games and is registering under two minutes per contest.

"We'll see how he does," Howland said.
With less than an hour until tip-off here at the Galen Center, senior James Keefe is sporting a pair of denim jeans and a stylish black button-up shirt. It's safe to say he won't be available for tonight's crucial game against USC.

At least we know he has a sense of style.

The 6-foot-8 forward dislocated his left shoulder in practice on Friday and was listed as questionable. He has had two prior injuries to the same shoulder this season and had the shoulder operated on in 2007.

Freshman Reeves Nelson (concussion) will probably make the start at center. He was listed as probable heading into the game, but has not looked limited in pregame warm-ups. Freshman forward Brendan Lane and sophomore J'mison Morgan should also get more minutes with Keefe out.

Revisiting Stanford

February, 5, 2010
Here are a few notes from UCLA's 77-73 win over Stanford Thursday night.

-- The win gave UCLA its 11th victory of the season and a .500 record for the first time since Nov. 23, when it was 2-2. For you number junkies, that's 69 days since the Bruins had as many wins as they had losses. Back then, Drew Gordon was still on the team, Jerime Anderson was still the starting point guard, Tyler Honeycutt had yet to play his first collegiate game and the thought of coach Ben Howland implementing a zone defense seemed laughable.

-- Stanford forward Landry Fields, a Long Beach native, posted a career-high 35 points against UCLA. "He played big," Howland said. "He's from L.A. and wants to come down here [and play well]." The Bruins tried to stop him by playing a combination of zone and man-to-man. The switch was not a part of the game plan. "That was just a game-time adjustment because they were killing our zone," Howland said.

-- Fields and Jeremy Green combined for 53 of Stanford's 73 points. UCLA had four players in double figures, led by Reeves Nelson's 18 and Michael Roll's 16. Surprisingly, UCLA did some damage at the free-throw line, making 18 of 22 attempts in the second half. Stanford only went to the stripe a total of 13 times.

-- UCLA only committed five turnovers Thursday, a vast improvement from its woeful, 23-turnover performance in the teams' previous match-up on Jan. 9 (which UCLA lost by 11).

-- Nelson had made three assists heading into Thursday and left with two more. "That's improvement," Howland said with a smile. The jokes kept coming when the players took their seats at the press conference. When asked if he'd be kind enough to donate the two assists to Honeycutt (who was two assists short of a triple-double), Nelson leaned into the microphone and simply said, "No."

-- The Bruins have won four of five games since the disappointing 21-point home loss to crosstown rival USC. Players have stepped up their game. "We're getting used to each other," Honeycutt said. "We came here as a young team against USC. We weren't ready for what they offered." UCLA has had four players post double-doubles in the last three games. There had not been a double-double in the first 19 games.

-- Sophomore center J'mison Morgan was in uniform but did not see any action. He had been out since Jan. 12 with a partial torn quadriceps muscle in his right leg. Morgan has played in 13 of UCLA's 22 games and averaged two points.
Chalk up another setback for the UCLA men's basketball team.

Sophomore center J'mison 'Bobo' Morgan will be out two to three weeks with a partially torn quadriceps muscle in his right leg, a UCLA spokesperson announced Wednesday afternoon. Morgan suffered the injury during Tuesday's practice.

Morgan's injury is another blow to an already thin UCLA front court. The Bruins lost sophomore Drew Gordon when he and coach Ben Howland mutually agreed on his exit from the program. Gordon was UCLA's starting center and leading rebounder at the time.

True freshman forward Reeves Nelson has held strong since Gordon's departure, but his inexperience is apparent. Senior forward James Keefe has also visited the training room, as he dislocated his left shoulder during a game in mid-December.

Morgan, a 6-foot, 10-inch center from Dallas, Texas, has seen limited playing time (7.8 minutes per game) as a backup this season.

Rated a five-star recruit by Scout.com coming out of high school, Morgan initially showed up to campus in bad shape physically. He worked hard to shed some weight this past summer, but has been passed by Nelson and freshman Brendan Lane for playing time.

Morgan is only averaging two points per game, so UCLA doesn't lose much offensive production.

The injury to Morgan probably means senior forward Keefe's minutes will increase. Keefe had started seven games at power forward prior to his shoulder injury.



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