April 16, 2008

After leading UCLA to its third straight Final Four, Bruins freshman Kevin Love plans to enter his name into the NBA draft on Thursday, sources close to the situation told SI.com. Love has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. PDT at UCLA's J.D. Morgan Center to make the announcement, where he'll appear along with his father, Stan, as well as Bruins coach Ben Howland.

A source told SI.com late Thursday that although Love may not make his representation plans public at the news conference, he's expected to sign with agent Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management, whose client list includes 2007's No. 1 draft pick, Greg Oden. Widely believed to be a lottery pick in June, Love was a first-team Sports Illustrated All-America this season after averaging 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds for the 35-4 Bruins.

Love's decision to enter the draft was based on extremely positive feedback from NBA decision-makers, according to sources. He met with Howland on Wednesday afternoon as part of a series of individual meetings scheduled for all UCLA players, and informed the coach of his plans, which were finalized during a trip home to Oregon last week.

DraftExpress has Love slotted as the No. 8 pick in its latest 2008 mock draft, and two NBA scouts told SI.com on Wednesday that they believ Love is a lock for the 5-10 range. Two freshmen who have already made official draft declarations, Memphis' Derrick Rose and Kansas State's Michael Beasley, are expected to be the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in this year's draft -- although the order in which they'll be picked is still up for debate.

While Love was long believed to be leaning toward a one-and-done college career, the NBA decisions of UCLA guards Darren Collison (a junior) and Russell Westbrook (a sophomore) are still up in the air. Collison's mother, June, told SI.com on Wednesday that initial reports of her son turning pro were "not true, because we haven't talked about it at all yet." June said she expected her son to discuss the decision with his family over the weekend, and possibly come to a decision early next week.

The Bruins have Rivals.com's No. 1-ranked recruiting class arriving next season, including three elite guards: five-star combo guard Jrue Holiday, four-star point guard Malcolm Lee, and four-star shooting guard Jerime Anderson. The fourth recruit, four-star power forward Drew Gordon, will be part of a frontcourt committee that includes returners James Keefe, Alfred Aboya and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

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