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Henderson Can Contemplate Future


Junior forward J.R. Henderson, considered the most likely Bruin non-senior to make the jump into the NBA draft, said he won't rush into deciding whether to stay at UCLA for his senior season.

"I'll talk with my parents, weigh my options," Henderson said after UCLA's Midwest Regional final loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

Henderson said that figuring out where he might be drafted--which determines how much money he might earn as a rookie--will be a factor in his thought process.

But he said he was determined not to know about his draft potential from anybody connected with the NBA until the UCLA season was over.

"They've tried to [tell him what selection he might be]," Henderson said, "but I always say I don't want to hear it. They ask me, 'Do I want some idea?' And I say no. I'm just not thinking about it yet."


Kris Johnson was not ready to assume that UCLA's three-year run as Pacific 10 champion would be over next season, with Charles O'Bannon and Cameron Dollar graduated and potentially Henderson, Jelani McCoy or Toby Bailey gone to the NBA.

"They might leave, they might stay," said Johnson, who will be a senior next season. "You never know. And with the core group of guys we could have, Jelani, J.R., Toby, me and Brandon [Loyd], that's a good core to have for next year."

Johnson, slowed most of the season by bone chips in his right ankle, will undergo surgery to remove the chips in a week or so, Coach Steve Lavin said Saturday.


Minutes after playing in his last game as a Bruin, O'Bannon sighed and said he hadn't had time to contemplate the end of his collegiate career.

"No chance at all," he said. "There's been a lot of things coming at me. Maybe on the flight home, or when I talk to my parents, I can sit back and reflect on what this meant."

But he said he was satisfied with his own personal growth in his final year. "I'm happy about my level of play being higher than it was, but I'm also pleased at not having an off-the-court problem," O'Bannon said. "After all the problems I had in my junior season, I was happy I was able to just go out and play basketball."


Lavin, who often said during the season that he was heading to Cancun, Mexico, as soon as he could after it was over, said he would be delaying that vacation for a couple of intense recruiting weeks.

"We need a couple of commitments, a couple of more players," Lavin said.

UCLA has received a signed commitment from guard Earl Watson of Kansas City, Mo., and verbal commitments from guard-forward Billy Knight of Westchester High in Los Angeles and forward Travis Reed of A.B. Miller High in Fontana.

Guard Rico Hines, who signed with the Bruins last year but was not academically cleared to play, also is expected to be with the Bruins next season.

The prize remains Santa Monica Crossroads point guard Baron Davis, who orally committed to UCLA in the summer but decided to consider other schools--including Duke and Kansas--after Jim Harrick was fired.


Minnesota point guard Eric Harris, a major question mark heading into the game because of a sprained right shoulder, received loud ovations from Gopher fans when he made most of his shots in the pregame warmups, started the game and, though he looked limited, played 23 minutes.

He did not score, however, missing all three of his shots.

"Eric is a tremendous player and leader," Gopher forward Sam Jacobson said. "We feel very comfortable when he has the ball. It was great to see him play in this game."


How perimeter-dominated were the Bruins in this game? Starting guards Dollar and Bailey combined to take 27 of UCLA's 62 shots, grabbed 14 of the team's 33 rebounds, and committed 13 of the team's 18 turnovers.


The all-regional team, as voted on by a panel of media members: UCLA's Dollar and O'Bannon, Minnesota's Bobby Jackson (the regional MVP) and Jacobson, and Iowa State's Dedric Willoughby.

All but Dollar and Jacobson were unanimous choices.

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