UCLA basketball players Tony Parker, left, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
On the morning of Halloween, Kyle Anderson was called into an office. The UCLA freshman point guard expected trouble, but instead he received news he had been waiting weeks to hear.
The NCAA had cleared him, meaning he'd be eligible to play for the Bruins this season.
"Words couldn't describe how happy I was," the men's basketball guard said Friday night after UCLA's "Pauley Madness" event at Pauley Pavilion, his first public comments since being cleared.
The NCAA was investigating ties between a sports agent and Anderson's father, Kyle Sr. UCLA officials had long expected Anderson to be cleared, but the process dragged on weeks longer than they expected.
"I was just ready for anything," Anderson said, adding that he wasn't surprised by how long the process took.
UCLA center Josh Smith said the news that Anderson was cleared is a "big relief" for the team and for Anderson as well.
"For him to get cleared is a big step because now he knows that he doesn't have to worry about anything with the NCAA right now and he (can just) play and be focused," Smith said.
For the Bruins, the addition of Anderson, a play-making 6-foot-9 guard, cannot be understated.
"Kyle’s always on the floor making plays for others," Smith said. "We notice that in practice. The thing is, he’s 6-9, he’s a big guy, but with the ball, he’s looking three, four plays ahead, and he’s trying to set up people. He’s a playmaker."
While Anderson was waiting to be cleared, UCLA was stuck in limbo, which Smith called the "what-if" game.
But that game doesn't stop with Anderson being cleared.
UCLA is still in a limbo heading into this season because highly touted freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad has not been cleared to play by the NCAA. Investigators are looking into his family's and his AAU team's ties to two financial planners, and that investigation is considered more complex than Anderson's.
The NCAA was expected to interview Muhammad's parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, late this week, according to people close to the investigation who were not authorized to speak publicly. The timeline for a possible resolution is unclear.
UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Thursday that he's "very optimistic" Muhammad will be deemed eligible, but Smith said the team is preparing to play its season opener Nov. 9 against Indiana State without Muhammad.
"When we get the news from him, we'll go from there, but right now, we're playing as if he can't play," Smith said.
Anderson said Muhammad, who did not participate during Friday's event, has handled being in limbo well.
"It's up to him to stay strong through this," Anderson said. "He's being patient, just like I was."
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Photos: The newly renovated Pauley Pavilion