The “baby blue” UCLA pipeline to the NBA is a well-traveled one with 15 Bruins currently on NBA rosters entering the upcoming season – the most of any college program.
In fact, UCLA has delivered the most players to the NBA with Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA 2012-’13) being the 83rd Bruin headed to the show this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he’ll team up with another former Bruin, Kevin Love (UCLA 2007) .
A third of all the currently active Bruin alums in the Association reside, appropriately enough, in Los Angeles. The Lakers have guard Jordan Farmar (UCLA 2004-’06) and center Dan Gadzuric (UCLA 1998-2002).
But you might want to work the UCLA 8-Clap for the L.A. team just down the hall at Staples Center.
The Clippers have three Bruins on their roster – center Ryan Hollins (UCLA 2002-’06), guard Darren Collison (UCLA 2005-’09) who joins the Clippers after playing with the Dallas Mavericks last year, and forward Matt Barnes (UCLA 1998-2002) – the most of any team in the league.
Not only is a quarter of the Clippers roster filled with UCLA products, former Bruin Gerald Madkins (UCLA 1992) is beginning his second season as the Clippers Director of Player Personnel and former Lady Bruins star Natalie Nakase (UCLA 2002) is serving an internship with the Clippers in hopes of being the first female to one day coach in the NBA.
By no means is this a novelty or a coincidence that first-year Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has three UCLA Bruins on his bench. Barnes, Collison and Hollins will be counted on to come off the bench and produce if the Clippers want to make a run at a championship.
Darren Collison, who will be asked to back-up Chris Paul as he did his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets, has had quite a productive career starting three seasons for the Indiana Pacers. His career numbers are 12 points, five assists and two rebounds per game.
Matt Barnes had a career year for the Clippers last year averaging ten points and five rebounds off the bench. He’s a defensive asset often asked to guard the opponents best player and can shoot the three as well.
Ryan Hollins is familiar with Rivers having played for him one season in Boston. Last year, he backed up starter DeAndre Jordan averaging eleven minutes a game scoring five points, grabbing two rebounds and a blocked shot.
I asked the three former Bruins about playing together in Los Angeles for the Clippers. I also asked Clippers head coach Doc Rivers about his "Bruins Bench." Click on the video to hear their reaction.
The Clippers will open the regular season October 29th against the Lakers at Staples Center.