Darren Collison: the key to UCLA versus USC hoops?

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UCLA versus USC, this time at Pauley Pavilion, is just underway and I’ve got my eye on one guy right now: Darren Collison, the Bruins wiry, light-footed point guard.

Collison, of course, came back to college rather than enter last year’s NBA draft. He did so precisely for games like tonight’s.

As the 6-foot Collison goes, so go the Bruins. He’s their leader -- emotionally and down at the level of the squeaky shoes, the pick-and-rolls and the cross-court assists.

If he can play to his potential -- solid, smart and speedy -- the Bruins probably win this game. If he plays well the rest of the season, UCLA has a real shot at doing damage when the NCAA tournament comes.

More, proving himself in this kind of tightrope game will help his stock rise in the eyes of NBA scouts, which is a big reason why he’s a Bruin in 2009. Much is at stake for a guy like Darren Collison tonight.


This being the case, I’m going to pay him a little extra attention tonight. Will he be the key to how this game ends? We’ll see.

-- Kurt Streeter