Tonight marks the official beginning of the college basketball season. However, the UCLA Bruins are still scrambling to find out what they’re team will look like when the first game takes place next month.
UCLA had one of the best recruiting classes this season, yet the program’s best two recruits – Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson – both have their eligibility under review by the NCAA after reports that each may have received improper benefits.
Tony Parker, another top-recruit from UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class, was also being investigated by the NCAA, before being cleared. Jordan Adams, another freshman from that heralded class, is also eligible this season.
“It’s an ongoing process. We’ve got about a month or so before we play our first game. Until that time, we’re waiting to get word from the NCAA. Beyond that, we can’t comment due to student privacy laws.
But I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic. They’re great kids and I’m really excited about the coming season.”
Howland’s optimism is tough to agree with given his current situation. He’s still unsure about whether or not his two top recruits will take the floor this season. To make matter’s worse, junior guard Tyler Lamb will be sidelined 4-6 weeks following surgery on his left knee.
This is all under the cloud of a down season, which was headlined by a cover story on Sports Illustrated, highlighting the program’s issues.
Back in July, junior center Josh Smith told reporters that he had lost 15 lbs. following the season, however before the team’s trip to China in August, Howland was unimpressed with Smith’s progress.
While UCLA awaits news about Muhammad and Anderson and the recovery of Lamb, the Bruins will need to rely on Smith and whether or not he’s in shape, as well as whether or not North Carolina transfer Larry Drew can put his past problems at point behind him and run the show at UCLA.