Much has been made about the newcomers in the Angelino schools and there's no two ways about it: the newcomers are important. The unfortunate dialogue has been the pending non-arrival of UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad. But let's not linger there. The NCAA certainly hasn't.
Kyle Anderson is now cleared to play and that has Coach Howland "very pleased." Pleased indeed because, as Howland tells us, Anderson is pretty talented. When describing his game, Howland mentioned that he can offensively play any position from the one to the four, precisely what he did on the team's trip to China over the summer.
Accompanying Anderson's versatility in the backcourt will be the senior and new-to-UCLA, Larry Drew II. Here is a player who had a tumultuous time at North Carolina where he maybe didn't quite see the success he'd expected to see. Howland feels things will be different in Los Angeles, "For Larry, I think the big thing for him is he's happy to be back home." After all, it is where the heart is.
And speaking of heart, much has been made of whether or not Josh Smith has gotten the rate of his up. Howland deflected questions about his conditioning but was quick to remind us that Smith had a very good freshman campaign; a season that perhaps jaded expectations. Whatever the case, Junior David Wear believes that Smith, Freshman Tony Parker, and twin brother Travis Wear on the same team is a good thing, "Competing against each other every day, it's obviously going to make us better and practices have been extremely competitive." Competition, in theory, breeds success; as do versatile players (Anderson) and senior point guards (Larry Drew II).
The newcomers in Watts are a different story. Here we find a group coach Kevin O'Neill says "already has good chemistry." Which is great news! This is a group that introduces four incoming transfers and three returners who played minimally if at all last season due to injury. There are lots of new faces but this is a group that should not be lacking talent.
Highlighting the injured group is senior point guard, Jio Fontan. About his upcoming season, Fontan had this to say, "I want to go out there and play as hard as I can." For a player like Fontan that means he's playing hard and often, because that's what KO point guards do.
O'Neill also has rave reviews for the Aaron Fuller's motor. The scrappy senior returns from double shoulder surgery and looks to bounce back from only getting to play half of his junior year. Also worth keeping an eye on but not mentioned during media day was Wake Forrest transfer JT Terrell. The junior can light it up and if the Trojan bigs are doing their job on the block, look out for Terrell from distance.