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3 UCLA

Nov. 17, 2008
Nov. 17, 2008

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Nov. 17, 2008

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3 UCLA

The Bruins' Chances for Another Final Four Are Fab, Thanks to Five Top Recruits

WHEN A school hasa five-star, five-player recruiting class, thoughts inevitably turn to thestoried quintet led by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. "The Fab Five really isthe perfect nickname," says UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday. "But it'salready been taken—by Michigan, right?"

This is an article from the Nov. 17, 2008 issue

Forgive Holiday,who was born in 1990 and was not even two years old when the Wolverines made itto the national championship game in the Fab Five's debut season. Holiday nowheadlines another vaunted first-year fivesome, which includes guards MalcolmLee and Jerime Anderson, as well as frontliners Drew Gordon and J'Mison (Bobo)Morgan.

UCLA needed thistalent infusion after losing three underclassmen to the NBA draft—center KevinLove, guard Russell Westbrook and forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Bruinsdon't have a ready replacement at center for Love, but Holiday should do justfine filling in at shooting guard for Westbrook. Holiday, the 2008 GatoradePlayer of the Year (the same honor bestowed upon Love in 2007), may not be asexplosive as Westbrook, but he is a better shooter and ball handler. "Hedoes a little bit of everything well," says UCLA coach Ben Howland. And hecan do it with either hand: The ambidextrous Holiday shoots with his right butfeels more comfortable dribbling and dunking with his left. "It makes himvery tough to defend," Lee says. "You can't force him any oneway."

Lee has beentrying to guard Holiday since the fifth grade, when Lee was playing AAUbasketball for the Riverside Tar Heels and Holiday was with the RanchoCucamonga Bulls. Holiday's point guard at the time was Anderson, who will backup Darren Collison this season while Lee backs up Josh Shipp. With Anderson'scourt vision and Lee's three-point-shooting prowess, the Bruins are as loadedon the perimeter as any team in the country.

The UCLArecruiting class was already ranked No. 1 when Morgan committed on May 23, thesame day that Love announced he was hiring an agent for his move to the NBA.The 6'10" Morgan, who originally signed with LSU and was released from hisscholarship after coach John Brady was fired in February, picked the Bruins inpart because he saw that they needed him. "They were missing anenforcer," he says.

Morgan's mother,Bianca, called him Bozo when he was a baby, thinking the shock of hair atop hishead made him look like a clown. His older brother, who could not pronounceBozo, went with Bobo instead. For one member of this freshman class, at least,a nickname is firmly in place.

STARTING LINEUP

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, Weber State; winner advances to play in New YorkCity)

Key Game
Can the callow Bruins contain Notre Dame's 6'8", 255-pound strongman LukeHarangody on the inside or shut down sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney on theoutside? The first meeting since 2005 in this rivalry will be a test of UCLA'stoughness.

Coach
Ben Howland (6th year)

2007--08record
35--4

Pac-10 record
16--2 (1st)

NCAAtournament
Final Four

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Seth Davis checks in from UCLA, where a hot freshman and some surprisereturnees could bring the Bruins to a fourth straight Final Four.

PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGHHandy Man The ambidextrous Holiday leaves defenders wondering which way to turn.