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Collins Twins Back Off UCLA

Basketball: Close to committing to Bruins, they're not so sure after Harrick's last supper.

November 09, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

STUDIO CITY — Jarron and Jason Collins, twin towers for Harvard-Westlake High and among the most coveted college basketball recruits in the nation, said Thursday they were close to making a commitment to UCLA before the firing of Bruin Coach Jim Harrick.

But now, with Harrick out of the picture, Jason, a 6-foot-11 center, and Jarron, a 6-10 forward, are reconsidering their options.

"UCLA was, probably, the [school] we agreed upon most," Jarron said. "But they, potentially, might have lost their whole recruiting class. Coach Harrick being fired does have an impact."

Said Jason: "I was very serious about UCLA, but this could deter us from going to UCLA. I want to sit back and wait."

Jason and Jarron, who led the Wolverines to the State Division III championship last March, probably won't wait long.

The twins have made recruiting visits to Arizona and Stanford, and both players said they want to sign national letters of intent soon after the NCAA early signing period begins Wednesday and before Harvard-Westlake's season begins in December.

The Collinses denied a published report that they have settled on Arizona and insist they haven't ruled out UCLA. But sudden uncertainty surrounding the Bruin program has made UCLA's offer less inviting.

Both players said they like interim Coach Steve Lavin, Harrick's replacement. But indications are that Lavin will last no more than one season and a successor probably won't be selected for months.

"There are a lot of problems over there that haven't completely been settled," Jason said. "I want to wait and see what happens with Lavin. But things might not be settled until after the season."

The Collinses probably will attend college in tandem. Splitting up remains an option, although it is unlikely, Jarron said.

They said they plan to spend the weekend mulling over matters.

"We've had the schools ranked, but in separate order," Jason said.

As for Harrick, the Collinses said they believe the Bruin coach was levied too severe a punishment. Harrick was dismissed for falsifying and subsequently lying about an expense report stemming from a recruiting dinner last month at which the Collinses were guests.

"It's not for us to say, but I don't think he should have been fired," Jarron said. "He should have been reprimanded or disciplined for his actions. For someone to lose their job over a dinner, which is what it came down to. . . . "

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