One of the most dominant big men in college basketball will probably start games taking up room on the bench instead of underneath the basket.
UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday that he would probably bring center Joshua Smith into games after a few minutes to avoid picking up fouls at a time when referees like to set the tone, similar to how the coach utilized Smith for much of last season.
The arrangement proved effective Sunday, when the 6-foot-10, 315-pound sophomore entered an exhibition game against Cal State San Bernardino with 3 minutes 17 seconds having elapsed in the first half and proceeded to score 26 points in 27 minutes.
“Josh is fine with it,” Howland said. “He’s going to play his minutes.”
Smith, who did not make himself available to the media Tuesday, started 13 of UCLA’s first 15 games last season before coming off the bench for the next 16 games. He was back in the starting lineup during the Bruins’ two NCAA tournament games.
Travis Wear or Anthony Stover figures to start in games when Smith comes off the bench. Wear started in the exhibition and scored 10 points in 15 minutes.
Howland said he expected to use the same starting lineup he did in the exhibition game when the Bruins open their season against Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Sports Arena, but left himself an out.
“It’s always subject to change,” he said.
William “Shaq” Goodwin announced via Twitter that he had committed to Memphis, spurning UCLA only two days after the two-sport standout concluded his official visit to Westwood.
Goodwin, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward and tight end from Decatur (Ga.) Southwest DeKalb High, had told The Times on Sunday that he would not make his college choice until the spring signing period.
UCLA’s early signing class is expected to include highly touted swingman Kyle Anderson and shooting guard Jordan Adams, who could sign letters of intent as soon as Wednesday. The Bruins are also pursuing coveted center Tony Parker and small forward Shabazz Muhammad, who are expected to announce their college decisions in the spring.
UCLA was hoping to tap two inside connections to Goodwin: Assistant Korey McCray was his club team coach and Adams was a former club teammate. Goodwin said Sunday that McCray’s presence was “not a big factor” in his decision.