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10 UCLA The Bruins lost one of the nation's top point guards--and may be better without him

"A team's personality is shaped by its point guard," says UCLA
coach Steve Lavin, which explains the smiles around Westwood
these days. Gone is Baron Davis, who after two seasons bolted to
the NBA. Davis was so talented he was the third player taken in
the draft, by the Charlotte Hornets, but his departure may be the
best thing that could have happened to the Bruins. He was
undisciplined on defense--he fouled out eight times last
season--and often out of control on offense, and he was far too
uneven a presence to lead the talented but painfully
inexperienced Bruins, a fact that was obvious during UCLA's
first-round flameout against Detroit in the NCAAs. Taking over
for Davis at the point will be junior Earl Watson, who for the
past two seasons has been UCLA's shooting guard. "Earl's game is
rooted in fundamentals and a deep knowledge of the game," says
Lavin, who's tactful enough not to draw the obvious comparison.

The transition to point guard should pose no problem for
Watson--he played the position in high school and last year had
more assists (142) than Davis (138, though Davis did miss four
games with a knee injury). He'll have a strong rotation of 10
players to get involved in the offense, including a big front
line anchored by Jerome Moiso, the 6'10" sweet-shooting lefty;
JaRon Rush, who needs to develop an offensive package to go with
his relentless efforts in transition and on the glass; and
bruising center Dan Gadzuric, who's fully recovered from the knee
problems that beset him last season.

The key for the Bruins is finding a perimeter game. They finished
ninth in the Pac-10 in three-point shooting (32.8%) last year.
Help in that department should come from highly touted freshman
Jason Kapono, a 6'7" deadeye shooter who made 211 threes in high

"We've got so much talent and depth that all it's going to take
to be successful is leadership," says Watson. "I'm looking
forward to providing that, in excess."

--Alan Shipnuck



SF Jason Kapono 6'7" Fr. 7.6 apg*
PF JaRon Rush[1] 6'7" So. 7.3 rpg
C Dan Gadzuric[1] 6'11" So. 8.6 ppg
SG Ray Young 6'3" So. 5.4 ppg
PG Earl Watson[1] 6'1" Jr. 13.3 ppg

1998-99 record: 22-9 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 21
Returning starter[1] *As high school senior