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Morgan will play at UCLA

June 06, 2008|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

It's official. J'Mison Morgan will be playing basketball next season for UCLA.

Bruins Coach Ben Howland confirmed Thursday that the school has received signed grant-in-aid paperwork from the 6-foot-10, 248-pound center from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas.

Morgan, who averaged 13.5 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots as a high school senior, is expected to contend for playing time immediately with the departure of UCLA star Kevin Love to the NBA.

Howland said he expected Morgan to enroll in UCLA's first summer session at the end of June.

Morgan had signed a letter-of-intent to play at Louisiana State, but after Tigers coach John Brady was fired and replaced by former Stanford coach Trent Johnson, Morgan decided to reconsider.

Howland praised Morgan's "good hands and good feet." The coach added, "He's long, he has a nice touch. Good low-post players are so hard to find. Very few players can go inside and score on the block."

Two other UCLA incoming freshmen, guard Malcolm Lee and forward Drew Gordon, will be trying out for the USA 18-under national team that will play in Argentina this summer, Howland said.

With the loss of Pacific 10 Conference player of the year Love after one season and sophomore conference defensive player of the year Russell Westbrook, Howland said he won't predict how many years Morgan might play at UCLA.

"At this point I don't even speculate on that kind of stuff any more," Howland said. "If someone had asked if I expected Russell to be a four-year player I would have said yes. So what do I know?"

Westbrook said Thursday that he would keep his name in the draft and not return to UCLA.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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