If there's a bright side to UCLA's disastrous 13-17 season, it's that UCLA fans don't need to worry about anyone leaving early for the NBA.
For now, at least.
But the fact that not one player is even thinking about jumping to the league is a cause for concern. It's a pick-your-poison situation, really. Needless to say, coach Ben Howland has missed on some players, or else there would be some rumbling about possible early exits.
UCLA fans were spoiled with guards Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook making Final Four runs. Jerime Anderson, the guy who was supposed to be next in line, has not shown any resemblance to them.
In order for the Bruins to stay atop the Pacific 10 Conference, Anderson had to take over for Collison -- just as Collison did for Farmar and Westbrook did for Afflalo. But Anderson has underperformed, losing his starting spot earlier this season. The sophomore was so bad that Howland was forced to move Malcolm Lee from the off guard position to a ball-handling role.
Lee has struggled there too, at times too sped up to think. His decision-making has been spotty at best. Lee has committed a team-high 82 turnovers. Anderson has 62 while averaging 10 minutes less.
On offense, Anderson is as reluctant with the ball as Farmar, Collison and Westbrook are assertive in the NBA. Granted, the three former players were also restricted by Howland's limit-the-possessions philosophy (let's just say guards dribble more than they drive). But unlike Anderson, the preceding guards showed glimpses of greatness when the clock was winding down and they had the ball in their hands.
Anderson has not.
Howland's misjudgments are not limited to the back court. Six-foot-10 center J'mison Morgan, a former five-star prospect who had conditioning problems coming in, was supposed to be thrive in Howland's methodical and slow-paced offense. Instead, Morgan has seen the kind of minutes that are more appropriately suited for walk-ons.
Morgan is adequate with his back to the basket and can block shots when he finds a defensive rhythm. That's really all we can draw from his two seasons in Westwood. Many expected Morgan to be great (i.e. Kevin Love), but he doesn't rebound with the aggressiveness of No. 42.
If you're seeking an explanation for UCLA's fifth-place finish in the conference, look no further than the Bruins' bench, where Anderson and Morgan have become staples.