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Ben Howland on Russell Westbrook: ‘He’s actually capable of a quadruple-double’

Before his final season at UCLA, Ben Howland was led to believe that the school had already planned on firing him. At that point, some major schools had an interest in hiring him for their head coaching position. Howland told The Jim Rome Show why exactly he chose to stay in Westwood for that 2012-13 Season and why he’s still proud of what that team accomplished.

“I never want to give up, I never want to be a quitter,” said Howland. “We did win the conference, we won the regular season Pac-12 championship, starting 3 freshmen. Although they were great freshmen, Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams all in the NBA, and we started Travis Wear who’s playing for the Knicks and Larry Drew who’s had multiple 10-day contracts this year with Philadelphia.”

Howland, the newly named head coach at Mississippi State, looks back on his time with the Bruins as an overall memorable experience.

“I feel very good about my years at UCLA,” said Howland. “I feel unbelievably blessed that I had a great opportunity to coach at my dream job growing up as a kid watching those (John) Wooden teams, in our little house in Santa Barbara and I will always always treasure the time that I had at UCLA, and I’m so thankful for that opportunity.”

Howland, who led the Bruins to three Final Fours, said he’s one of the few people who felt like this year’s UCLA team belonged in the NCAA Tournament, and their Sweet 16 run has proven it.

“I’m very happy excited for the year they’ve had, I was one of the few people standing up for them when they were denounced to be in the tournament,” said Howland. “And I thought they deserved to be in they did enough to get in, I couldn’t believe the outlash they’ve received, they’ve proven they’ve deserved.”

Howland also touched on his former player Russell Westbrook’s NBA success and the run he’s been on lately for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The coach joked that the first time he saw the now MVP candidate, he knew he’d go onto NBA stardom someday.

“Absolutely, I knew right away,” Howland laughed. “When Russell Westbrook was a junior in high school, he was like 5’11” 155 (pounds); he was a kid that matured late, as a senior he blew up he had 53 points one game, but still he was a late signee. He was a kid that kept getting better and is so motivated so driven.”

Howland says Westbrook has that rare trait that makes him great.

“The special players in this game have a special something, the drive, like Kobe (Bryant), there are very few guys,” said Howland. “Russell, the one word that describes him when you watch him play is ferocious, he is fearless, he is a great competitor and I’m so proud of him. Every time he gets a triple double I text him and say ‘this is what sets you apart from everybody else’ how many guys can get eleven triple-doubles? I mean he’s capable of a triple-double every night, and he’s actually capable of a quadruple-double.”

Howland says he and Westbrook still have a great relationship, but he doesn’t like to bother him too much.

“This guy is superstar, he has so many people clawing him. I don’t like to bother those guys that much,” said Howland. “But Russell’s been great to me, he sent me a beautiful text when I was announced the coach of Mississippi State.”

  • Ben Howland
  • Mar 27th 2015

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