Alumni Q&A: Darren Collison looks back on first season with Clippers

Since helping UCLA to three straight Final Fours, Darren Collison has embarked on what is turning into a bit of a journeyman’s career. He’s played for four teams in five seasons, and transitioned from being a starter in Indiana to a capable backup in Dallas and Los Angeles.

But even though he’ll be a free agent again this summer — opting out of $1.9 million — he insists he wants to stay in his hometown.

Collison talked a bit this week about his first season with the Clippers, the current state of UCLA basketball, as well as his basketball camp for middle schoolers starting June 23.

How did your first season with the Clippers go?

I think as far as the team, we expected to go deeper. We expected to win it all. That didn’t quite go well. It’s stuck with us even now. I think it’s going to be a motivating factor even now. we understood the road that we came from. we felt like we were right there.

My intention is to stick with the Clippers. They’re a good team. Good teams like San Antonio and Miami have stuck with the same core. I’d love to stay for three to four years, but there has to be a mutual agreement.

How does this summer of free agency for you compare to last year’s?

Last year, it was just putting myself in a position where I could find myself again as a player mentally. I’ve been through a lot. The previous season with Dallas, I still had a good season, but mentally I just felt like I needed to be a part of a team that was going to try to win it all. That was my intention. To try and be a part of a team that was going to win a championship.

This year, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just my value went up. I understand that. But I don’t want it to affect my decision with the Clippers. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: O’Bannon trial continues with testimony from economics professor

» O’Bannon v. NCAA rolled on through Tuesday with testimony from Roger Noll, a Stanford professor emeritus of economics. Noll, who calls the NCAA a ‘cartel’, has testified for seven-and-a-half hours through the first two days and will take the stand again Wednesday.

Former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon took the stand on Monday.

» Jeremy Bloom, a two-time Olympic skier and former Colorado All-American receiver, shared his thoughts on the NCAA. Bloom was declared ineligible for football in 2004 due to endorsements he received as a pro skier, but was still taken in the fifth round of the NFL draft.

» Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said eliminating National Signing Day could make sense. Continue reading

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UCLA lineman Scott Quessenberry’s brother David diagnosed with lymphoma

Houston Texans right tackle David Quessenberry was diagnosed with lymphoma on Tuesday at age 23, a week after entering the hospital with coughing and fatigue.

The former sixth-round pick is the eldest brother of Scott Quessenberry, who started six games at left guard for UCLA as a true freshman last season. Another brother, Paul, is a defensive end at Navy.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“My fight has just begun,” Quessenberry tweeted Tuesday. “As long as I have breath in my lungs, I will fight this disease and I will win.”

Two oncology experts said Quessenberry faces a high-grade, life-threatening form of cancer that requires immediate treatment. He’s expected to face months of chemotherapy during a process that could last years. The many forms of lymphoma and multiple recovery scenarios make Quessenberry’s future health status difficult to predict. But his high “performance data,” including youth and excellent physical shape, should work in his favor if treatment goes well

“It’s a rapidly growing lymphoma. … But the tumors that grow most rapidly are usually the ones most sensitive to chemotherapy,” said Dr. Martha Mims, chief of hematology and oncology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Best wishes go out to the Quessenberry family.

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Pac-12 announces 11 a.m. TV window for football to reduce night kickoffs

The Pac-12 announced Sunday that it will introduce an 11 a.m. PT television window to reduce the number of night games that conference teams play this upcoming football season.

The morning kickoffs will replace an evening time slot on Pac-12 Networks, though exactly how many there are will be determined as the season progresses.

“This is a positive step for Pac-12 fans across the Conference,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “There has been an adjustment over the last two years with our new television agreement, and we believe fans — both in our stadiums and in the television audience — will benefit.”

The change is a move away from Scott’s stance last season, when he repeatedly defended the league’s frequent late starts by deferring to TV numbers. Continue reading

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Relief pitchers David Berg, Jake Ehret become final Bruins taken in MLB draft

A pair of relief pitchers capped the MLB draft for UCLA on Saturday, becoming the third and fourth Bruins taken this year.

Star closer David Berg went to the Texas Rangers in the 17th round as the 516th overall pick, 91 selections after teammate Jake Ehret was drafted in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Lightly recruited out of Bishop Amat High, Berg made 101 appearances in his first two seasons at UCLA — setting an NCAA single-season record with 24 saves during the team’s 2013 national championship run. He also became the first reliever to win Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.

Limited by strained bicep for part of his junior season, Berg still finished with a 1.50 ERA and 11 saves. Ehret had a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings as a righty setup man.

UCLA signee Griffin Canning, another right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 38th round by the Colorado Rockies.

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Myles Jack, Malcolm Bunche lead UCLA on Phil Steele’s preseason All-Pac-12 list

Is UCLA’s best offensive player … Malcolm Bunche?

Maybe in the wonky world of preseason all-conference teams. College football writer Phil Steele released his All-Pac-12 selections today, going four lineups deep on offense, defense, and special teams.

Seven Bruins made the four offensive teams, but the one ahead of them was arguably the strangest pick in the entire list. Bunche is no doubt an important piece of UCLA’s offensive line this upcoming season, but he transferred from Miami in the first place because he lost playing time. It’s also unclear whether the 6-foot-7 lineman is best suited at guard at tackle, though he practiced more at the former in spring.

Quarterback Brett Hundley, right guard Alex Redmond, and Y-receiver Thomas Duarte each made the second team, with Duarte slotted in at tight end. Continue reading

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Catcher Shane Zeile drafted No. 160 overall as Tigers’ fifth-round pick

UCLA catcher Shane Zeile was taken in the fifth round of the MLB draft on Friday, becoming the first current Bruin off the board.

The junior went No. 160 overall to the Detroit Tigers after leading UCLA in nearly every hitting category, including a .324 batting average and 28 RBI. A former infielder, the All-Pac-12 selection successfully converted to catcher and started 105 games behind home plate over the last two seasons. Continue reading

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How much will the MLB draft hurt UCLA baseball’s recruiting class?

Each June, living rooms across the country erupt as college baseball programs groan.

The MLB draft pushes scores of teens toward their pro dreams, but also guts the recruiting classes UCLA has suffered its share of the burden, losing five recruits last year — including a pair of 11th-round selections.

The blows are coming earlier this time, which at least makes for less guesswork on the part of the coaches. Lefty Brady Aiken was as good as gone even before he officially became the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, as the UCLA signee was already a consensus top-three prospect. The first high school pitcher selected first since 1991 is in line to sign for just shy of $8 million, and the Astros certainly wouldn’t have risked the top pick without confidence they could ink him.

The same likely goes for righty Grant Hockin out of La Verne’s Damien High, who was picked 61st overall by the Cleveland Indians. Continue reading

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UCLA schedules home-and-home series with BYU in 2015, 2016

UCLA’s rush of schedule additions never seems to end.

Its latest move? Etching in a home-and-home series with BYU in 2015 and 2016, replacing its prior games against Nevada. The Bruins will host on Sept. 19, 2015, and visit Provo on Sept. 17, 2016.

This doesn’t carry the same aura as scheduling Texas A&M (2016/2017), Oklahoma (2018/2019) or LSU (2021/20214), but the Cougars have at least made a bowl game for nine straight years.

While the Bruins lead BYU, 7-3, in the all-time series, the Cougars’ have taken the last two in memorable fashion: a 17-16 win in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl, and a 59-0 blowout in Provo the following year.

Nevada and UCLA mutually agreed the cancel their series, allowing the Wolf Pack to fill its Sept. 19, 2015 slot with a trip to Texas A&M — one with a reported $1.5 million payout.

A full look at the Bruins’ scheduled nonconference opponents through 2024 below: Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: An inside look at the life of a basketball recruit

» Worth reading: An inside look at the recruitment of Marvin Clark Jr., a one-time Oregon commit whose future flickered when he fractured his foot.

» Former USC coach Lane Kiffin’s three-year contract as Alabama’s offensive coordinator will pay him $680,000 for the first two years, then $714,000 in the third.

» Arizona State may ban beer kegs at its tailgates. Continue reading

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