JUCO big man Ikenna Okwarabizie commits to UCLA

Days after missing on a major frontcourt recruit, UCLA has landed 6-foot-10 big man Ikenna Okwarabizie out of Tyler Junior College.

Okwarabizie grew up in Nigeria, but played his senior year of high school at Sioux City (Iowa) East before spending his first season of college ball 100 miles east of Dallas. According to the Sioux City Journal, he also drew interest from Iowa, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.

The Bruins have considered offering the 245-pounder as early as last October.

Okwarabizie averaged 6.5 points and 7.0 rebounds through his lone JUCO season, shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 57.9 percent from the line. His announcement on Sunday morning helps add depth to UCLA’s frontline, which lost all-conference forward Kevon Looney to the NBA draft and little-used reserve Wanaah Bail to a transfer.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar undergoes quadruple bypass surgery

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Thursday at UCLA Medical Center, but is expected to make a full recovery.

UCLA released a statement today at the request of the former Lakers and Bruins star. He was operated on by Dr. Richard Shemin.

From the university’s statement:

At this time, Abdul-Jabbar would like to thank his surgical team and the medical staff at UCLA, his alma mater, for the excellent care he has received. He is looking forward to getting back to his normal activities soon.

He asks that you keep him in your thoughts and, most importantly, cherish and live each day to its fullest.

For those wanting to send well wishes, he thanks you in advance and asks that you support those in your own community who may be suffering from various health issues.

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Four-star wide receiver Darian Owens commits to UCLA

Four-star receiver Darian Owens committed to UCLA on Friday, announcing his decision in a ceremony at Clovis West High.

He becomes the seventh verbal commitment in the Bruins’ 2016 recruiting class, giving them a 6-foot, 192-pound target with speed. He is ranked just outside the top 100 nationally at any position by Rivals.com, and among the top 20 prospects in California. Scout.com ranks him as a top-10 athlete in his class.

“I already knew where I wanted to go a month ago and I have the best relationship with coach (UCLA wide receivers coach Eric) Yarber out of every other coach,” Owens told Rivals.com. “UCLA honestly gave off a home feel.”

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UCLA’s wait continues as center Stephen Zimmerman picks UNLV

Five-star center Stephen Zimmerman announced his commitment to UNLV tonight, spurning Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA in favor of his hometown team.

Before Thursday, the 6-foot-11 prospect had been one of the top national recruits still undecided on their college destination. His choice leaves the Bruins — who are coming off back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 — looking somewhat precarious in their quest to break back into the sport’s elite ranks.

A player like Zimmerman would have helped reinvigorate a frontcourt that lost Kevon Looney to the NBA draft. Through his first two years in Los Angeles, head coach Steve Alford has yet to construct a roster with depth across the court. Continue reading

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