More on Josh Smith

UCLA head coach Ben Howland got one relieving phone call on Monday night, from an old friend.

Four years after receiving his first interest from the Bruins, Kentwood (Wash.) center Josh Smith orally committed to UCLA on Monday.

The 6-foot-9, 270-pound center chose between the Bruins and home-state favorite Washington in a tense recruiting battle, picking UCLA because of the past, present and future.

The past, because he knows well of the program’s storied history, hearkening back to John Wooden and the team’s 11 national championships.

The present, because he knows the Bruins are a team in transition, with nine scholarship underclassmen and the opportunity to contribute quickly.

The future, because UCLA has been a ladder to the NBA in recent years.

“Not trying to disrespect any other school, but with UCLA, people see those four letters and they remember all those great players, those champions, Coach Wooden,” Smith said. “I want to wear those four letters well.”

Smith has been vocal about his interest in the Bruins for a long while, even speaking often with former UCLA center – and first-round pick – Kevin Love.

He said that he was particularly enamored with Howland’s style of play and commitment to execution.

“Going and watching them play, I just kind of fell in love with their style of play,” Smith said. “It was one of those things where I look at Pauley, I knew I’d have to live up to a lot. I spoke to Kevin Love multiple times and he worked his butt off and had fun, and look where it got him.
“But I’m not trying to be the next Kevin Love though, I’m trying to be the next me.”
He’ll try to get an early start.

Smith said he planned on heading to Westwood in June to get a head start on weight training and conditioning. A fixture in the post, Smith has said he wants to improve his explosiveness.

“When I talked to the coaches I wanted to be an impact player right away,” Smith said. “That isn’t necessarily starting. If I’m coming off the bench and helping the team win, that’s a good thing. We’ll have a young team, and I think it’d be good for us to gel together, get that chemistry.”

Though he’s leaving his family, Smith said he was eager to begin anew in Los Angeles, where his much of his mother’s family lives and his half-brother, who graduated from USC last year.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and I have nothing but love for Seattle, but I’ve been down that way many times,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to stay too far away from my parents, and it’s one of the reasons I picked those two schools. (Washington), I play five minutes from, and L.A. is only a two-hour flight for my parents.”

Smith is also not looking too far ahead to his next major flight.

He hopes the NBA beckons, and if it happens to call on him sooner than later, he’ll entertain the option. But he said he is not planning to UCLA to be a one-and-done.

“I’ve been telling people, I’d take it if the opportunity comes,” Smith said. “I plan on staying all four years; the first thing I want to do is get my degree. But let’s say I become a lottery pick my freshman year, I’d take the opportunity. I’m not trying to run to the NBA as fast as I can. Success for most people isn’t success for some people. I’m trying to make the most out of my college degree.”

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  • amm

    it looks like the next 4 years are gonna be bliss with this guy around

  • JosephineBruin

    YES!!!
    Welcome to Westwood Josh Smithand thank you Coach Howland!

  • UCLAVES

    But let’s say I become a lottery pick my fresh year, I’d take the opportunity.

    Jon what did you mean to write here?

  • bbruin

    Wow, that was well said. Totally honest about the NBA and college. I hope he can stay as long as possible at UCLA.

    Stay healthy Josh, have a great year of HS BB!!

  • Jewin

    Jon, nice scoop by the way!

  • jdoggbruin

    Awesome news. Welcome aboard Josh! Sounds like a bright kid can’t wait to have him in Westwood.

  • edob3017

    Awesome!!! How many can we sign for 2010 class? 4? So there are only two spots left for McCallum, Zeigler, Jones, and Barnes. Seems to me that McCallum would be priority becasue we need PGs.

  • bruinbiochem06

    I admire his honesty regarding leaving early to the League.

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to give a little love to KLove as well. Even though he was a one and done, he’s still represents UCLA and is doing it well. Can’t believe those that were hating on him cuz he left for the NBA when it was calling.

  • Fan4Life

    I am so thankful for the state of Washington. :)

  • BruinFaithful

    edob3017:

    We currently have 4 guaranteed spots for 2010. 5 if Malcolm Lee develops and leaves early. There is a decent chance this will happen.

  • BruinFaithful

    Looks like perseverance pays off. Congrats to Ben Howland and our whole great staff, including Coach Wooden.

    Hopefully, we can get Harrison Barnes here too. Here is a GREAT story from Harrison Barnes personal online diary, of his GREAT visit to Westwood.

    http://www.highschoolhoop.com/recruiting-news/2009/11/the-harrison-barnes-diary-official-visit-to-ucla/

  • L.P

    He is LAZY dont run hard why do you think Romar didnt persue hard Have fun with this lazy overweight kid

  • Anonymous

    So let me ask…exactly how sour ARE your grapes LP?

  • theuclan

    Great news for CBH but – he’ll be a one and done and he doesn’t even have to have a big year to get interest from the NBA. Take a look at Jrue Holiday who had a below avg year but recieved interest from the NBA and made the leap.

    The NBA want’s to go younger and younger in it’s drafting of players out of college and that hurts programs like UCLA who push academics. I think there would be a better chance of him staying a few years at a school that wouldn’t care if he attended class.

    I would like to see us go after three star recruits with upside and develop them into good college players so that by the time they reach their 3rd & 4th year – we could have some experience on the team that would serve us well in the tournament

  • Anonymous

    L P:

    Romar didn’t persue him hard? Are you kidding? Are you still upset about Saturdays game? lol.

    Just because the kid picked UCLA over Washington, does NOT mean Romar didnt persue him hard.

  • Charlie Bucket

    we got caught short this year that is true, but recruiting less talented kids is not the way to go. all the top programs have to deal with the one and dones (e.g. UCLA, NC, KY & Kansas) but that is the game now.

    speaking of playing the cards you’re dealt…CBH, one word: ZONE.

  • Bruin62

    Remember when Kevin Love was being recruited there was also another phenomenal player in Oregon that year. The Bruins wanted both players. Looking back, maybe they got the wrong one. Love would have been a junior this year but was one-&-done. Kyle Singler went to Duke, he is still there, and some have projected him to be the player-of-the-year. Recruiting high school basketball players is sort of like watching the ball bounce around on a roulette wheel waiting for it to land — except the ball usually doesn’t later fly off the wheel before you cash in.

  • RobM

    This is a great get! Recruiting is an arms race and you need to keep getting these top rated kids in order to compete on the court and for future recruiting. Yes, “one-and-dones” (basically 5-star kids) have a destabilizing effect on teams and I agree that it is ruining the college game, but that’s just how collegeBB works right now. Recruiting less talented kids (3star) and hoping to develop them (because they never leave early) is definitely not the way to go. That is a 2nd tier school strategy. Those schools are competitive cyclically, and that’s never been good enough for us.(I know that this will sound bad but…) Bringing in lower rated kids will invite mediocrity. If you are talking about recruiting kids that are good HS players that have the potential to be great college players, BUT not good enough to leave too early for the NBA, then that is generally the definition of a 4-star kid. And Bruin62 makes a good point, either way its still a crapshoot: Luc Richard and Russell Westbrook were both 3stars and left early for the NBA. (5-stars: Farmar left as Soph, Afflalo left as Jr., Love left as Frosh)

    The one thing that I think is great that people don’t talk enough about is that Howland puts a premium on character. Check out his first recruiting classes, (all seniors and pretty upstanding guys): Lorenzo Mata-Real, Darren Collison, Alfred Aboya, and Josh Shipp. This year: Michael Roll and James Keefe. Pretty good bunch! (Sorry Dragovic, couldn’t include you..)

  • theuclan

    You need to keep getting those kind of recruits to compete? How did the Holiday signing help us compete? he was a non factor who figured to be a huge factor this year.

    I’m gonna guess the Smith signing almost guarantees us no other big man will consider UCLA for a couple of years creating a void when he leaves early.

    I hope I’m wrong!! great job CBH lets hope we can squeeze two years out of this kid.

  • Brew In

    Definite kudos to KLove. My source tells me Kevin still does his best to help bring recruits this way. He actually had a heavy hand in “swaying” Josh Smith and I am told that he is in contact with Terrence Jones, the 5 star forward out of Oregon. The KLove hating needs to stop as you can’t fault the opportunity given to him by the NBA AND the fact he appears to have the Bruin-For-Life mentality like the rest of us!