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Shipp recovered; others are hurting

Times Staff Writer

Josh Shipp is all sharp angles and defined muscles. He has the shoulders of a swimmer and the legs of a weightlifter. Most important, he feels great.

Shipp says he is fully recovered from surgery in April on his left hip, his second hip surgery in two years. He was all smiles Tuesday when the UCLA men’s basketball team reported to Pauley Pavilion for photos, interviews and health reports.

After the Bruins’ resounding defeat to Florida in an NCAA championship semifinal, Arron Afflalo departed for the NBA and the rest of the team scattered to work on shots and defense, on gaining strength and toughness.

They also sustained several injuries.

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James Keefe, a 6-foot-8 forward who had begun contesting for rebounds and making shots in the lane during the NCAA tournament, suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder while playing pickup basketball in Orange County. The shoulder was popped back into place and Keefe thought nothing more about it until a week later when he had an MRI and found out surgery was necessary.

Keefe just this week received doctor’s permission to resume running. He’s not allowed back in the weight room yet.

Coach Ben Howland says he hopes the forward is available by Dec. 15 when UCLA plays host to Idaho State.

Lorenzo Mata-Real, who has added his mother’s last name to his jersey, sustained a sprained right foot a couple of weeks ago and showed up at a UCLA football practice wearing a boot. The team’s only scholarship senior and last year’s starting center, Mata-Real was walking without a limp Tuesday and hopeful he would be cleared to fully participate when the team has its first practice Friday.

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Nikola Dragovic, who was suspended for 10 games last season for playing on a team with professionals in his native Serbia, had surgery for a double hernia over the summer, a procedure Howland said he was unaware of until Dragovic returned to UCLA. Dragovic left media day early for a doctor’s appointment.

Shipp’s recovery is key for UCLA.

Two years ago, Shipp had surgery on his right hip to repair a similar muscle tear. It cost him all but four games of what would have been his sophomore season.

Howland said he was impressed with Shipp after a 50-minute individual workout Monday. “He went hard,” Howland said. “He’s done a great job eating right, taking care of himself. I was very anxious, but now he’s fine.”

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Kevin Love, the consensus top high school player in the nation last year at Lake Oswego High in Oregon, was poised, confident and funny Tuesday in his debut as a Bruin.

The 6-10 center, who is constantly praised for his passing ability, listed as his accomplishments so far while working out in Westwood as having trimmed down, strengthened up and learned how and where his new teammates liked to receive the ball.

He also promised that he would not be too aggressive in throwing elbows -- or anything else -- in the general area of point guard Darren Collison. USC freshman and fellow high school superstar O.J. Mayo reportedly broke the jaw of Trojans point guard Daniel Hackett with a misplaced elbow during a pickup game last month.

“An elbow, yeah, right,” Love said. “Dan’s a good friend of mine too. I’m never going to lay a hand or lay a fist or elbow on a teammate like that.”

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The players wore a new basketball uniform Tuesday. In commemoration of UCLA’s 100 NCAA championships, the bright white jersey had a blue “U”, “L”, and “A” and a light yellow “C” that represents the number 100 in roman numerals.

Mata-Real thought the jersey was “ugly,” several of the players admitted they hadn’t known what the yellow “C” stood for, and there was a sense Howland wasn’t enthusiastic about the design -- even from only a few feet away, it appeared as if the “C” was missing.

Shortly after the media gathering ended, it was announced that the yellow “C” would be redesigned, possibly with a blue outline.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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