Pac-12 links: Why Ben Howland went to Mississippi State

» Ben Howland still has photos of his Santa Barbara house on his phone, but he’s temporarily given up the comforts of Southern California for Starkville — a place that has given him another chance to coach basketball.

» Charges against Dominique Hatfield have been dropped after an alleged armed robbery, opening the door to a possible return for the Utah cornerback.

» An Oregon State student saved a woman from a burning car. Continue reading

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UCLA to break ground on football, basketball practice facilities

UCLA will break ground on its new football and basketball practice facilities in August, less than two years after fundraising first began.

An official ceremony will be held on Thursday, Aug. 27 for both the Wasserman Football Center and Mo Ostin Basketball Center, west of Spaulding Field and southwest of Pauley Pavilion. Football and basketball head coaches Jim Mora, Steve Alford and Cori Close will be present, as will donors Casey Wasserman and Mo Ostin.

“This is confirmation that UCLA will continue as the premier intercollegiate athletics program in the nation while remaining a force to be reckoned with well into the future,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Marcus Mariota is the last unsigned NFL first-round pick

» Former Oregon quarterback and No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Marcus Mariota has not yet signed his contract with the Tennessee Titans, making him the last first-rounder to hold out. A report suggested that Mariota was upset that the contract barred him from surfing — but, disappointingly, others have debunked that reason.

» Utah cornerback Dominique Hatfield has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. A former receiver, he was expected to start as a junior.

» Colorado defensive tackle Josh Tupou has been ruled out for the Buffaloes this season after being arrested in spring, but school officials aren’t commenting further. Continue reading

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Jalen Hill, newest UCLA commitment, 6-foot-8 at just 15

Jalen Hill, a five-star center who committed on Sunday to UCLA, could look significantly different when he arrives on campus in 2017.

The Corona Centennial junior-to-be turned 15 in December. He could easily be a 2018 prospect based on his age alone. Hill is touted as a defensive center, but his offensive game is developing as rapidly as his 6-foot-8 body, according to his high school coach, who noted that Hill’s father is 6-9 and his mother is “at least 6-3.”

“Most kids who are this tall this young can’t chew gum and walk, but Jalen is one of the fastest, most agile players on our team,” Centennial basketball coach Josh Giles said. “A year ago, sure, he was more of a defensive guy, but he’s increased his range and he is a much better outside shooter. He’s got much more to his game than just defense.”

Giles thought enough of Hill’s perimeter skills to call the Scout.com five-star prospect a stretch-4. Hill’s offensive development was on display earlier this month when he set a record for the 16U USA Basketball team on its way to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship. He connected on 88 percent (15 of 17) of his field goal attempts in the tournament’s five games, breaking Jahlil Okafor’s 2011 mark of 71 percent shooting.

It has been an unexpectedly eventful summer for Hill, who wasn’t anticipated to issue a commitment this early. His decision boiled down to UCLA and Arizona, according to Giles. Continue reading

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Five-star center Jalen Hill commits to UCLA’s 2017 class

UCLA has landed a commitment from another big man out of Corona Centenniel.

Two months after center Ike Anigbogu announced his decision to join the Bruins’ 2016 class, his high school teammate Jalen Hill has done the same for the 2017 cycle. Hill is ranked a five-star center and a top-25 national recruit by Scout.com, and a four-star power forward by Rivals.com.

He was picked for the USA Basketball U16 team earlier this month.

The 6-foot-8, 205-pound Hill is the second member of UCLA’s 2017 class, joining three-star shooting guard LiAngelo Ball.

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