Trevor Ariza, the freshman forward, declared his intentions of pursuing a pro basketball career, while also asking for his release from UCLA, Tuesday.
The 6-7 Ariza, who averaged 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, said that he decided to put his name in the NBA draft despite the advice of Head Coach Ben Howland, and apparently his mother, Lolita.
“I think to stay in school would have benefitted him, both as a student and as a basketball player. His mother echoed those sentiments. But he’s made the decision he wants to put all his effort into trying to be drafted this year,” said Howland.
Ariza acknowledged that he’s bucking the opinion of some, but said there were others “close” to him that believed going pro at this time was a smart decision, as he does.
Ariza also said that he’s not really even considering the prospect of not making an NBA team. “I’m not really thinking if it doesn’t happen. Because I don’t think it’s not going to happen. It is going to happen.”
In asking for his release from the school, Ariza almost certainly will not return to UCLA in any scenario. Ariza left open the remote possibility, but admitted it was remote. “For me to do what I have to do, I have to withdraw (from school),” Ariza said. “If it’s possible, yeah, but right now I don’t think it’s possible.”
Coach Howland, after the press conference, admitted that Ariza would not return to UCLA. Howland said, ‘His mother thought that was a good idea (to withdraw from school), to leave all options available. Trevor is expecting to get drafted and make a team. But worst-case scenario, if none of that happens, he’d have the option to look at other programs. He wouldn’t be able to attend school here since he wouldn’t have the units to be able to play next year anyway.”
Withdrawing preserves whatever good standing Ariza had academically at the end of UCLA’s winter quarter. By withdrawing from spring quarter (which just began last week), it prevents him from adding bad grades to his transcript while working out for the draft. It does, though, also make him incomplete for a year academically. If he did, indeed, decide to attend another school, he’d almost certainly have to take classes in summer school.
In other words, no matter how you look at it, the scenario for Ariza to return to college basketball at another program is not a likely one.
Ariza reportedly hasn’t retained an agent, which also enables him to return to college. But Ariza Tuesday didn’t sound like he had much intention of returning to college basketball.