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Shipp to stay with the Bruins

June 11, 2008|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

UCLA basketball Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday that redshirt junior Josh Shipp will return for his final season of college eligibility.

Shipp, who has had surgeries on each of his hips over the last three years, announced after the season that he would explore leaving school early for a professional career.

His return means UCLA will have at least two senior starters back from its 2008 Final Four team. Point guard Darren Collison announced in April that he also would return for his senior season.

Howland expects backup center Alfred Aboya will be back for his senior season as well. Aboya had said he might skip his final year of basketball eligibility to concentrate on post-graduate education.

"In my heart and in my mind, yes, I believe Alfred will come back," Howland said.

In a statement Shipp said, "I am glad I went through this process. It gave me the opportunity to get input and prepare my body and my game for the next level."

Two other starters, freshman center Kevin Love and sophomore guard Russell Westbrook, have signed with agents and are expected to be NBA draft lottery picks June 26.

Another starter, junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. He has until Monday to either withdraw his name and return to school or stay in the draft.

Howland said Mbah a Moute has either worked out or planned to work out with Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Dallas before the deadline.

Howland said Shipp, who has spent much of the last two summers rehabbing after his hip surgeries, is doing yoga and other work to get his body stronger. "I think it will benefit him immensely to have a whole summer to work out. Right now he's in the best physical condition of his life," the coach said.

Also, Howland said sophomore Nikola Dragovic would remain at UCLA this summer to work out instead of returning home to Serbia.

Dragovic spent last summer in Serbia recovering from a hernia surgery that Howland was not aware of.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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