Richard Petruska, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center who was Loyola Marymount's leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer last season, announced Thursday that he will transfer to UCLA.
"I am very excited," Petruska said in a statement released by UCLA. "I want to play in the NCAA tournament, and I think I will reach that goal at UCLA."
Believed to be the first Czechoslovakian citizen to play basketball at a Division I college, Petruska was the only sophomore named to the All-West Coast Conference team last winter after averaging 16.4 points and 7.5 rebounds and making 58.9% of his shots in his only season at Loyola.
Petruska, who also blocked 55 shots in 28 games, had 21 points and nine rebounds in a game against UCLA last December.
After sitting out next season in accordance with NCAA rules, he will have one season of college eligibility. He will join a Bruin roster that includes three centers: 7-6 Mike Lanier, 6-9 Rodney Zimmerman and 7-0 Jiri Zidek, a Czechoslovakian who was signed by UCLA last May.
Said UCLA Coach Jim Harrick: "He is a fine post player who will help our younger players in practice this year, and I expect him to be a major contributor during the 1992-93 season."
A former member of his country's national team, Petruska was approached last summer by UCLA, which sent an assistant coach to Czechoslovakia to meet him.
But last August, after 6-8 forward Ed O'Bannon reconsidered an oral commitment to Nevada Las Vegas and announced that he would enroll at UCLA, Harrick did not offer Petruska a scholarship and Petruska went to Loyola.
Former teammate Terrell Lowery questioned Petruska's decision to leave Loyola.
"I don't understand his rationale," Lowery said. "I think he's getting some bad advice."