With the UCLA basketball team set to depart for China in the early morning hours Wednesday, much attention has been paid to the fact that blue-chip freshman Shabazz Muhammad will remain on campus while the NCAA continues to investigate whether he received improper benefits in high school.
As it turns out, the Bruins will leave another well-known name behind.
Adria Gasol — the younger brother of NBA stars Pau and Marc — has begun practicing with the team as a walk-on.
At a reported 6-feet-10, he has the size and pedigree but not the experience of his big brothers. He arrived in Westwood with some high school experience and not much else, having failed to make the Spanish under-18 team.
Gasol cannot go to China because he only recently enrolled in school.
“You have to have been here and passed at least one class in summer school to be eligible to go on a trip like this as a freshman,” Coach Ben Howland said. “He wasn’t here for the first quarter of summer school.”
The freshman ran through drills with the Bruins on Monday and is expected to do so again at another practice Tuesday. In terms of contributing, he figures to be a long-range project.
“He gets in and mixes it up with the bigs a little bit,” forward David Wear said. “He’s a big guy. A big body.”