Why Is UCLA Taking Larry Drew?

Since leaving Carolina abruptly on February 4th, Larry Drew II has mostly laid low in his hometown of Los Angeles, surfacing only for his 21st birthday, and for the most part letting UNC fans direct their ire at his mom. But today UCLA announced that Drew enrolled at UCLA on Monday, the first day of the spring trimester. This has lead to numerous jokes about UCLA's willingness to take in Chapel Hill émigrés, and the great Bruin Nation headline Howland's Answer to UCLA's Point Guard Crisis: Bring in a Rapping Quitter from North Carolina, but little else.

It's obvious what Drew gets out of this. He has a chance to run the point at a high-profile institution, while playing close to home (and family!) and reunite with the Wear twins, who I'm sure are just thrilled to reconnect with their teammate. He'll also get the opporunity to prove his belief that Roy WIlliams was holding him back. But a lot of people are asking the question, what is Ben Howland thinking?

He's thinking he really needs a point guard. UCLA, a point guard factory for most of the decade, doesn't have any recruits coming in at this position next season. They're current starter, Lazeric Jones, will be a senior next season, as is Jerime Andersen, who lost his job to Jones this season.  This leaves for 2012-13 any players Howland recruits this year, making Drew a nice little insurance policy. 

Of course, it also has risks for both Howland and Drew. UCLA is getting a player who hasn't demonstrated much in the way of leadership skills and who could be a personality problem for the team. But the real danger for both men is what happens if Howland does land a strong point guard recruit for the following season. Drew, now a senior and no longer under a coach who really dislikes lineup changes, could be usurped by a second freshman point guard. If it can even get to that – reports were that Sharon Drew was less than happy that John Wall had called Williams after the national championship, and made that displeasure known the UNC basketball office. A lot of UCLA fans aren't to thrilled with this move, and I hope for the sake of everyone involved those fears are unwarranted.

The Bruins may have made a good choice, if in the end they get the Larry Drew of the 2010 NIT who could do some amazing things in a down year. But I can't help but think of the classic recommendation you write for the guy you're glad is leaving. So to UCLA, I say this:

Congratulations on getting Larry Drew. When you get to know him like we have, you'll understand the way we feel about him.

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