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April 25, 2007

Collison returning to UCLA for junior season

LOS ANGELES — UCLA starters Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said Wednesday they will return for their junior years rather than enter the NBA draft.

Collison, who was second in the Pac-10 in assists and led the league in steals, and Mbah a Moute, who was the Bruins' leading rebounder, made the announcement four days before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

UCLA reached the Final Four for a second straight year, losing 76-66 to Florida in the semifinals. Junior guard Arron Afflalo, a first-team All-America, announced two weeks ago that he would enter the NBA draft.

The Bruins lost to Florida in the championship game when the 6-foot-1 Collison and 6-8 Mbah a Moute were freshmen.

Collison averaged 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals this season and was a first-team All Pac-10 selection. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 assists in his freshman season as a backup to Jordan Farmar, who left early a year ago and now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Mbah a Moute averaged 8.2 points and 7.4 rebounds last season and was an honorable mention all-conference selection.

"This is the right decision. The NBA isn't going anywhere," Collison said on a teleconference. "It wasn't too difficult. My goal is to always win a championship. I'm ready to take a knock at it my junior year.

"I want to get stronger, smarter and learn how to control the game," said Collison, adding that he didn't look into where he potentially could have been drafted before deciding to stay in school.

For more coverage of UCLA, visit BruinBlitz.com.



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