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Basketball: Joshua Smith settles in

7/16/2010

It has been nearly a month since Joshua Smith arrived at UCLA, so the routine is set by now. The projected starting center from Kent, Wash., has been working out daily, hitting the bike machine before class and lifting weights alongside his new teammates.

Oh, and he has yet to pick up a basketball.

"Really, I haven't even touched a basketball since I've been down here," said Smith, ESPNU's No. 2-ranked center prospect in the 2010 class. "It's been all conditioning. I've been working out and that's really all I've been doing."

In fact, Smith, who is listed at 6 feet 10, 305 pounds, doesn't plan on grabbing a ball for at least another couple of weeks. He's staying active by working out three hours a day -- a process with which he's willing to be patient. Last year, Smith watched helplessly as UCLA stumbled through a 14-18 season.

"I followed it through the ups and downs," he said.

Are this year's Bruins headed for a similar campaign? Technically, next season's team is younger. Gone are Michael Roll, James Keefe, Nikola Dragovic and Mustafa Abdul-Hamid. Even so, the roster may be more balanced. Smith's arrival means the smaller Reeves Nelson can switch to power forward, a position that better suits his game.

Smith is the true center coach Ben Howland lacked last season.

"I think we're all excited to put last season behind us," Smith said.