Kyle Anderson 'excited' to play
Anderson, a 6-foot-9 guard, spoke to reporters after an event to celebrate the re-opening of Pauley Pavilion for the first time since the NCAA cleared him on Wednesday. The NCAA was looking into his family's relationship with NBA agent Thad Foucher, but found no violations.
"I got a lot of load off my shoulders being able to play next Friday so I'm pretty excited, actually," Anderson said after an exhibition event to celebrate the re-opening of Pauley Pavilion. "To hear such great news about me being able to be out there with my team next week, it was great. I can't describe how happy I was."
The investigation had been going for at least three months and those involved had expected him to be cleared nearly two months before he was. Anderson said he finally found out Wednesday morning when he was summoned to the athletic department offices.
"I thought I was in trouble," Anderson said. "But it actually turned out to be the exact opposite and I was very happy. I was very excited."
He said he wasn't given any indication about why the process took so long and that it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster waiting for a decision.
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"I didn't know what to think about it," he said. "I was just ready for anything and let the chips fall. I'm happy to be out there now and happy to be able to play next Friday."
Anderson will be a welcome presence when the Bruins open their season No. 9 against Indiana State. He is a versatile guard who can play every position on the floor because of his combination of size and ball handling ability.
He was rated the No. 5 prospect in the nation coming out of high school last season and is a major reason why UCLA is ranked No. 13 in the preseason Associated Press poll.
"It's a big relief," center Joshua Smith said. "We've been practicing and to have questions like that it's kind of like the 'what if' game. Maybe he plays and maybe not and for him to get cleared is a big thing. Now he knows that he doesn't have to worry about anything with the NCAA right now and he can play and just be focused."
Next up is Shabazz Muhammad, the consensus high school player of the year last year who is the subject of a separate NCAA review and has yet to be cleared. Muhammad was present at the event Friday, but was not made available to the media.
He strained his shoulder, but participated in warm-up drills and dunked several times. Coach Ben Howland said he is "not that far away" physically. Still, nobody knows if he will be cleared or not in time for UCLA's opener. The Bruins are preparing as if he will not be available.
"That's how it is right now," Smith said. "When we get the news from him we'll go from there but right now we're playing as if he can't play."
Muhammad's investigation is more complex, involving financial dealings with his club team and possible improper benefits during recruiting. Investigators are said to be sorting through thousands of pages of financial documents and were scheduled to interview Muhammad's parents today, a source said.
Anderson said the only advice he has for Muhammad is to stay patient and hope for the best.
"It's just up to him to stay strong through this," Anderson said. "I'm sure everything is going to work out."
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