The ambidextrous Holiday leaves defenders wondering which way to turn.
John W. McDonough/SI
Nov. 12-13 Prairie View A&M* Nov. 29 Florida International Dec. 4 at Texas Dec. 7 Cal State-Northridge Dec. 13 DePaul (in Anaheim, Calif.) Dec. 17 Loyola Marymount Dec. 20 Mercer Dec. 23 Wyoming Dec. 28 Louisiana Tech Feb. 7 Notre Dame** *2K Sports Classic (plus Miami [Ohio], Weber State; winner advances to play in New York City)
Can the callow Bruins contain Notre Dame's 6' 8", 255-pound strongman Luke Harangody on the inside or shut down sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney on the outside? The first meeting since 2005 in this rivalry will be a test of UCLA's toughness.
Coach: Ben Howland (6th year) 2007-08 record: 35-4 Pac-10 record: 16-2 (1st) NCAA tournament: Final Four
Josh Shipp *
*Returning starter **High school stats
The Bruins' chances for another final four are fab, thanks to five top recruits
When a school has a five-star, five-player recruiting class, thoughtsinevitably turn to the storied quintet led by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. "TheFab Five really is the perfect nickname," says UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday. "Butit's already been taken -- by Michigan, right?"
Forgive Holiday, who was born in 1990 and was not even two years old when theWolverines made it to the national championship game in the Fab Five's debutseason. Holiday now headlines another vaunted first-year fivesome, whichincludes guards Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson, as well as frontliners DrewGordon and J'Mison (Bobo) Morgan.
UCLA needed this talent infusion after losing three underclassmen to the NBAdraft -- center Kevin Love, guard Russell Westbrook and forward Luc Richard Mbah aMoute. The Bruins don't have a ready replacement at center for Love, but Holidayshould do just fine filling in at shooting guard for Westbrook. Holiday, the2008 Gatorade Player of the Year (the same honor bestowed upon Love in 2007),may not be as explosive as Westbrook, but he is a better shooter and ballhandler. "He does a little bit of everything well," says UCLA coach Ben Howland.And he can do it with either hand: The ambidextrous Holiday shoots with hisright but feels more comfortable dribbling and dunking with his left. "It makeshim very tough to defend," Lee says. "You can't force him any one way."
Lee has been trying to guard Holiday since the fifth grade, when Lee wasplaying AAU basketball for the Riverside Tar Heels and Holiday was with theRancho Cucamonga Bulls. Holiday's point guard at the time was Anderson, who willback up Darren Collison this season while Lee backs up Josh Shipp. WithAnderson's court vision and Lee's three-point-shooting prowess, the Bruins areas loaded on the perimeter as any team in the country.
The UCLA recruiting class was already ranked No. 1 when Morgan committedon May 23, the same day that Love announced he was hiring an agent for hismove to the NBA. The 6' 10" Morgan, who originally signed with LSU and wasreleased from his scholarship after coach John Brady was fired in February,picked the Bruins in part because he saw that they needed him. "They weremissing an enforcer," he says.
Morgan's mother, Bianca, called him Bozo when he was a baby, thinking theshock of hair atop his head made him look like a clown. His older brother, whocould not pronounce Bozo, went with Bobo instead. For one member of thisfreshman class, at least, a nickname is firmly in place. -- Lee Jenkins
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