- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — UCLA freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute earned plenty of attention after a 17-point, nine-rebound performance against LSU in Saturday’s NCAA tournament semifinal.

It was no surprise to his teammates, who have watched him average 9.2 points and 8.1 rebounds while starting all but one game for the Bruins this season.

“With Luc, you get consistency,” senior swingman Cedric Bozeman said. “That’s the key word for Luc, consistency. We know what we’re going to get from him every night. He’s only a freshman, so the sky is the limit.”

Mbah a Moute (pronounced um-bah-a-moo-teh), a prince in the village in Cameroon where he was raised, was peppered with questions about that status yesterday. He is quickly emerging as hardwood royalty in Los Angeles and is wildly popular on campus, inspiring baby blue “Cameroon Crazie” T-shirts.

Nearly a Gator

Point guard Jordan Farmar strongly considered committing to Florida before UCLA hired Ben Howland three years ago today.

“He really made a poor choice, didn’t he?” Florida coach Billy Donovan said with a grin.

Had Howland not taken over in Westwood, Farmar probably would be in the opposite locker room tonight. Howland recalled how Farmar had gone largely unnoticed by UCLA’s previous staff and was then impressed with his trip to Gainesville.

However, Howland continued to push, a decision that has helped the Bruins recover from their first consecutive losing seasons since the early 1940s. Farmar has matured into the Bruins’ on-court leader, averaging 13.3 points and 5.1 assists to guide UCLA to its first title game appearance since 1995.

“When he came back, he was really leaning that way, I think,” Howland said. “It took a couple days to try to get him settled down. Then when he came over and played with our guys, he was so dominant he knew he was coming in and playing.”

Picking on Brewer

Florida forward Corey Brewer recalled how he helped his father with work on a farm in Portland, Tenn., while growing up, as well as assisting with hauling trash on the weekends.

The junior, whose excellent defense complements his ability to hurt opponents from the perimeter and on drives to the basket, developed his work ethic at an early age while working in his dad’s tobacco field. That led to some occasional back pain but also some expertise in crop cultivation.

“Pick it, cut it, everything you could do with it,” Brewer said. “I got good at it. I’ve been doing it since I was 5.”

Wake-up call

Florida coach Billy Donovan can’t remember exactly when or where he realized he would need to find a different avenue to remain in basketball as his playing career fizzled.

There’s no shortage of possibilities, though.

“One of the more difficult things I went through trying to latch on to an NBA team, at best I was going to be an 11th man, 12th man, a guy that got cut, a CBA traveler,” Donovan said. “I think probably at 24 years old, I realized, you know what, living in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the Days Inn hotel, living in Casper, Wyoming, another Days Inn hotel [wasn’t great.]”

Donovan, who played briefly for the New York Knicks, then worked on Wall Street for six months. That experience propelled him back to basketball as a coach.

“I knew right then and there this is not something I want to do,” Donovan said. “I felt like I had a lot to offer. I felt like I went through a lot as a player. I had a chance to touch a couple different levels, experience some different things. I thought I could give back.”

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