UCLA’s Collison won’t try for NBA

Times Staff Writer

In the end, Darren Collison said, the decision was easy.

Collison, UCLA’s All-Pacific 10 Conference point guard, will not explore his NBA draft possibilities this year.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore from Rancho Cucamonga said Wednesday he wouldn’t put his name in the eligibility pool and test himself in front of NBA evaluators without an agent.

“It wasn’t too much of a thought process,” Collison said. “UCLA is real enjoyable and the goal is always to win a championship.

“For me, personally, I spoke to my parents about it and Coach [Ben] Howland, and to stay on the safe side it was always UCLA basketball.”

Howland said in a Wednesday conference call that sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute would also return to UCLA for his junior season. Mbah a Moute, who struggled with sore knees toward the end of the season, had not created much NBA buzz.


However, after Collison’s breakout season in which he averaged more than 13 points and five assists and led the Bruins in three-point shooting, he was projected by some as a mid-first-round NBA pick.

On Monday, his mother, June Griffith-Collison, resigned from her job as director of San Bernardino County’s Regional Medical Center in order, she said, to “help my son with his decision-making.”

“For my mom it was just a family decision to spend more time with me,” Collison said. “It wasn’t about any basketball decision.”

Howland said, “Darren had given [the NBA] some thought.... When he tests the waters next year, which is the definite plan, he’ll move himself way up in the draft and be an early instead of a late-round pick.”