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Former UCLA standout Tyler Honeycutt found dead after standoff with LAPD

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Former UCLA standout and NBA player Tyler Honeycutt was found dead after a standoff with Los Angeles Police Department SWAT members early on Saturday morning.

The 27-year-old Honeycutt was identified by family members. The LAPD tweeted that they had gone into a Sherman Oaks residence after Honeycutt allegedly fired a gun at police and barricaded himself into the residence. When police eventually entered the home at 3:30 a.m., they found Honeycutt unresponsive.

Police initially received a call from Honeycutt’s mother, who said her son was acting erratically. That began everything around 5 p.m. on Friday when police arrived at the home and Honeycutt allegedly shot at them. Officers returned fire, and it appears that nobody was hit.

An investigation is still ongoing.

Honeycutt played for UCLA for two seasons as he was Pac-12 all-freshman team his first season and all-conference his second season. Eventually drafted in the second round to the Sacramento Kings at pick No. 35 in the 2011 NBA Draft, Honeycutt played parts of two seasons with them.

Honeycutt was traded to the Houston Rockets and waived. After spending some time in the D League, Honeycutt eventually made his way overseas for the past few seasons.

Drew Gordon reacted to SI’s UCLA article the smart way

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George Dohrmann’s article in Sports Illustrated about the downfall of the UCLA basketball program from February shined a negative light on everyone involved with the team during the four years since the Bruins have made a Final Four.

Reeves Nelson is the most public case, as the accusations made against him — that he wasn’t punished for intentionally injuring teammates and that he peed on Tyler Honeycutt’s clothes and bed as revenge for Honeycutt snitching about a party — were the most shocking and sever. Nelson is currently suing the magazine for $10 million in an effort to clean up his image.

Former UCLA teammate Drew Gordon is taking a different approach, one that is much more likely to result in hearing his name called come draft day. Gordon’s not denying what happened. He’s not justifying it, either. He’s taking responsibility for it, owning it, while making it known that his past is his past:

“We were freshmen, and we weren’t getting much playing time,” Gordon said. “So we did take advantage of the college life and make some ill-advised decisions. But when I read that article, there was so much negativity there. It was hurtful.”

It was worse from a mother’s perspective.

“I’m trying hard as a mom to let that stuff roll off my back, but it’s not easy,” said Shelly Davis, a senior manager of technical communications with the semiconductor Altera Corporation in Silicon Valley. “Drew was only 17 when he went to college. And in that situation, he was not reacting well. The coaches were not reacting well. There were times when I wondered when anybody was going to act like an adult. Then the players acted out. It wasn’t a real healthy situation.”

Gordon can be emotional on the court. His mother calls it an “ice-hockey mentality,” which should be no surprise, considering that was his first sport. He turned to basketball only after outgrowing skates and suffering a series of concussions.

Think about it like this: we all did dumb things when we were freshmen in college, and none of us were basketball players at UCLA. Asking a 17 year old phenom that is supposed to be the next star of a team in LA coming off of three straight Final Fours to carry himself as a professional is quite a request.

But Gordon learned. He matured. And now he’s preparing for this draft with the confidence that NBA teams will see that.

“Once people get a sense of my character and have a chance to see how I  really act, they’ll realize that the impression of that article is not accurate,” he said.

And nothing proves that more than the fact that he’s not denying what happened.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Reeves Nelson reportedly suing Sports Illustrated for $10 million, claiming defamation

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Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson is suing Sports Illustrated for defamation, following the publication of a revealing article about the UCLA program, TMZ is reporting.

The $10 million suit, in response to George Dohrmann’s article, published March 5, 2012, says that Dohrmann “recklessly and negligently failed to investigate” the claims in his piece.

Most notably of the claims in question is a detailed account of revenge, when Nelson reportedly urinated on the bed and clothes of a teammate who “squealed” about a New Year’s Eve party.

The lawsuit also cites claims that Nelson intentionally injured players in practice and that he was disciplined for fighting with teammates.

Nelson was dismissed from the team in December of 2011, after a second disciplinary suspension. During his sophomore season at UCLA, he averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Keith Fink will be representing Nelson. Fink has been a part of a number of high-profile legal entertainment cases, including suits involving Ellen DeGeneres, Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love, and Kobe Bryant.

According to TMZ, the suit includes “declarations from 18 UCLA players and ex-players who deny every allegation about Nelson,” among them one from former Bruin Tyler Honeycutt, who claims that the urination incident never happened.

The suit is to be filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Conference Catch-ups: The Pac-12

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Over the course of this week, we will spend a few minutes catching you up on how some of the best conferences in the country currently look. With conference play starting up, its time to get into the basketball spirit.

Favorite: Oregon State

Yeah, I said it. I’m going with the Beavers, and it all starts with Jared Cunningham, who, for my money, is the best player in the Pac-12 this year. He’s a sensational defender and impossible to keep out of the paint offensively. The rest of his offensive game is still developing, but there may not be a more difficult player in the conference to slow-down when they decide to put the ball on the floor and go to the rim. Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson are both underrated and effective playmakers in the back court so long as they keep their decision-making under control. What Oregon State’s front line lacks in size they make up for in versatility — Devon Collier and Eric Morehouse are long, athletic bigs; Joe Burton is a nimble post-scorer that really understands how to pass the ball; Angus Brandt is a lights-out shooter. Most importantly? I believe there is a reason for the dud they threw up against Idaho: it came 36 hours after Fred Thompson, an OSU football player and a friend to a number of players on the hoops team, passed away.

And-1: Cal has to be considered right up there with the Beavers as the favorite in the conference. For starters, they have the best perimeter attack in the league with Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe. Gutierrez is as underrated a player as you are going to come across nationally, while Crabbe has picked up where he left off scoring the ball last season. Justin Cobbs has come into his own in his first season in Berkeley, averaging 12.5 ppg and 4.5 apg with a 2.5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting 65.2% from three. My concern with the Bears is on the front line. Harper Kamp has had a slow start to the year while Richard Solomon, who was already suspended for a game for violating team rules, is now out with a stress fracture. This wasn’t a deep team to begin with, either.

Biggest Surprise: Stanford

At least we knew that Oregon State had Jared Cunningham. With Stanford, I don’t think anyone truly knew to expect this kind of season from the Cardinal, at least not yet. It will be interesting to see what happens with this group heading into league play. The Cardinal’s strength right now is on the defensive end of the floor, where they force turnovers and rebound the ball well. Where they have struggled a bit this season is offensively. As good as Josh Owens is, he’s not really a back-to-the-basket scorer in the post. Dwight Powell may be one day, but he is still a long way from being much more than just a project. Stanford does have a talented back court with Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, but neither of them are true point guards. That said, this team has a couple of nice wins (NC State, Oklahoma State) and took Syracuse down to the wire. In a wide open Pac-12 race, who knows?

And-1: How about the Buffaloes? With conference play kicking off, Colorado has shaken off the loss Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to start the year 8-4. Carlon Brown seems to be embracing playing the role of leading scorer while Andre Roberson has continued he ascent towards being labeled the next Kenny Faried.

Biggest Disappointment: UCLA

Since I didn’t want to put “the league as a whole”, I’ll go with UCLA over both Washington and Arizona. The Bruins came into the season with quite a bit of hype, as their front line looked to go about six deep and their back court was stocked with young talents that were supposed to make Bruin fans forget about just how much the loss of Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt hurt. Instead, Josh Smith ate his way into mediocrity, Reeves Nelson lost his damned mind and that back court that was supposed to be improving instead looks better suited for the Big West. The good news? The Bruins look like they might have turned a corner, winning four in a row, including a game against a solid Atlantic 10 team in Richmond.

And-1: Maybe I’ve just come to expect to much out of Washington given the amount of talent they have on their roster and the success they have in the postseason, but I am truly shocked at how far the Huskies have fallen this season. There’s a legitimate chance that they don’t make the NCAA Tournament, which is crazy considering they have pieces like Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and CJ Wilcox. That said, I fully expect this group to get it all together and make a run to the Pac-12 Tournament title. Its what they do.

Something left to prove: Arizona

I don’t think Arizona has as much upside potential as a team like Washington simply because I don’t think they have the same kind of star power. Josiah Turner is not going to be the difference this season. Maybe down the road, but not this year. Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes are both players that I would take on my team any day of the week, but neither of them are true point guards. The three best players on Arizona right now are Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kevin Parrom, and none of those three should be considered a star. They are all very good role players, but they shouldn’t be all-league caliber players. Arizona also has a lack of size. The Wildcats will get by on Sean Miller’s ability to coach and the fact that they do have so many good players. But I need to see more to believe this is anything more than solid.

Player of the Year: Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

With all due respect to Jorge Gutierrez, Cunningham’s the best defender in the league and he is leading the league in scoring. What else do you want him to do?

All-Conference Team:

POY: Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
G: Tony Wroten, Washington
G: Jorge Gutierrez, Cal
F: Allen Crabbe, Cal
F: Terrence Ross, Washington
F: Solomon Hill, Arizona

Power Rankings

1. Oregon State
2. Cal
3. Stanford
4. Arizona
5. Washington
6. Colorado
7. Oregon
8. UCLA
9. Washington State
10. USC
11. Arizona State
12. Utah

Pac-12 sure could use some of its 50 NBA players right now

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The Pac-12 is hurtin’.

It’s seventh in kenpom.com standings, ninth in the RPI, hasn’t beaten any Top 25 teams and has racked up so many bad losses, Rob had trouble recounting them all last week.

UCLA is in freefall, Arizona and Washington are enduring growing pains, and Cal and Stanford have fattened up on soft schedules. Don’t ask about everyone else.

Guess all the good players went to the NBA.

As Dan Hanner notes over at RealGM.com, only the ACC placed more players on NBA opening day rosters. Fifty former Pac-12 players – including Derrick Williams – dot the pro ranks, two more than last season. That’s more than the Big East (46),  SEC (45), Big 12 (43) and Big Ten (just 27).

And somewhat remarkably, half of those Pac-12 players come from just two schools: UCLA and Arizona.

The Bruins have regularly sent guys to the NBA for the last decade. Scouts apparently love their solid fundamentals and defensive ability. Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt became the two most recent. (What that says about how much Ben Howland gets out of all that pro talent is another post.)

Arizona’s still coasting off Lute Olson’s heyday, though Williams represents the start of what should be plenty more Wildcats in the NBA.

At some point the league’s performance will have to reflect the amount of conference talent, right? Drew Cannon noted this summer that the Pac-12’s “footprint” was better than observers thought and the conference was recruiting just fine (though not as the ACC).

Guessing it’ll help when the conference’s coaches settle in, too. Nine of them have been running their programs four years or less. Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Mike Montgomery (Cal) and Sean Miller (Arizona) all seem to have their teams on the upswing. Dana Altman (Oregon) and Craig Robinson (Oregon State) are close.

Good thing, too. The Pac-12 could use some better results.

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You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

UCLA’s woeful season may ends its hopes for No. 1 recruit

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After UCLA’s 69-58 opening night loss to Loyola Marymount on Nov. 11, sophomore center Josh Smith took to Twitter to vent his frustrations.

“Just lost to some straight bums lol…” Smith tweeted, before removing it a short time later.

Now, nearly two weeks after that tweet was sent out, the Bruins sit miserably at 1-4, have yet to beat a Division I team, and have lost their four games by an average of 16 points.

Wednesday night in Maui was the latest unfortunate outing, as the Bruins gave up the lead to No. 15 Michigan at the 14-minute mark of the first half and never got it back, losing by double-digits for the second straight night, 79-63.

It begs the question: have the name-callers, themselves, become the subjects of ridicule?

Compounded by UCLA’s storied past, the general mediocrity of the Pac-12 this season, and the off-the-court antics that add to the negativity, the Bruins need a fix.

Aside from Smith’s Twitter jab at LMU, the team’s leading scorer from last season, junior forward Reeves Nelson, became the latest to draw question marks. On Saturday, Nelson missed the team bus to the airport and, subsequently, the team plane to Maui, less than seven days after serving a suspension for (you guessed it) lateness.

“To be late to that meeting after we just got beat was really, really inappropriate,” head coach Ben Howland told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. “He understands it doesn’t look good.”

But where is the sense of urgency?

With both Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt leaving for the NBA Draft after last season, their departures cut 37 percent of total scoring out of the picture. Instead of stepping up, Nelson’s numbers have taken a hit. He has dropped from nearly 14 points per game in 2010-11 to eight this season, including having to sit out the Bruins’ 20-point loss to Middle Tennessee, due to suspension.

As dismal as this start may be, there is time to turn things around. With how bad the Pac-12 has been, a strong finish to the non-conference schedule and some momentum in conference play could turn things around.

The difficulty comes in defining “turn things around.”

Being that Cal and Arizona are looking like the two strongest teams in the conference, and with at-large bids from the Pac-12 at a premium, “turning things around” may not mean a tournament berth.

The more important part of all of this will be how the Bruins are viewed on the recruiting trail.

UCLA already has signatures from 2012 blue chipper Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (N.J.), along with four-star forward Jordan Adams of Oak Hill (Va.). Anderson was recently quoted in full support of his future college team, discounting the rumblings of those who cried, “The sky is falling!”

The question is less about the two prospects already bound by letters of intent and more about the big fish that still lurks the sea: consensus number one player in the nation for the Class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad.

UCLA is among those courting the 6-foot-6 swingman from Las Vegas, along with USC, Kentucky, Duke, UNLV, and others. Muhammad is a versatile lefty who finishes with authority above the rim. He has a polished mid-range game and has a body ready for high-major basketball.

Howland, whose knack for sending players to the NBA was most likely a motivating factor in Anderson’s decision, cannot afford to give off the sense that his house is not in order. Not with a crosstown rival, a rebuilding program with local ties, and two national powerhouses breathing down your neck.

Muhammad says he will sign during the spring signing period, which gives the Bruins most, if not all, of the season to determine their own fate.

UCLA has four days to regroup, before a Monday night matchup with in-state foe Pepperdine.