Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook’s UCLA history
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love spent some time together on the court Sunday night for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game. It wasn’t the first time they were teammates.
In 2007-08, Westbrook and Love were UCLA teammates. The Bruins reached the Final Four, where they lost to Memphis 78-63. That Memphis team was led by Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose.
In that NCAA semifinal, Rose was sensational, with 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and just one turnover. Douglas-Roberts scored 28 points in that game. Rose, of course, is the reigning NBA MVP. Douglas-Roberts played the previous three seasons, averaging 7.7 points a game, but now is out of the league.
But in that NCAA semifinal, Westbrook was equally superb. Westbrook had 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting, with three rebounds, two assists and three turnovers.
That was a loaded UCLA team: 35-4, including 16-2 in the Pac-12. Love led the Bruins with 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds a game. Westbrook was the shooting guard and averaged 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The point guard was Darren Collison, who now quarterbacks the Pacers; Collison averaged 14.5 points and 3.8 assists. Yet another Bruin, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, also made the NBA and has made 180 starts for the Bucks the last four years.
Interesting to note that Westbrook led that UCLA team in assists, even though Collison clearly was the point guard. Love made first-team all-Pac-12. Collison made second team. Westbrook made third team but was named the league’s defensive player of the year.
People, me included, long have popped UCLA coach Ben Howland for not doing more with such a lineup, but the truth is, you put Derrick Rose with coach John Calipari and another NBA talent, and you’ve got a ballteam. So there’s no shame in that UCLA season.
The previous UCLA team, 2006-07, did not have Love, who then was a high school senior, but it did have Arron Afflalo, now the Nuggets’ sharpshooter.
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