Ryan Smith, assistant Sports editor
On June 26, former UCLA guard Russell Westbrook was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player award after a historic year.
The dynamic point guard beat out Houston Rockets guard James Harden and San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
Westbrook became just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double and the first to do so since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season.
He averaged 31.6 points, 10.4 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder and led the team to a 47-35 record and the sixth overall seed in the Western Conference in 2016-17.
The Thunder were eventually eliminated by the Rockets in the first round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.
From 2006-08, Westbrook was a member of the men’s basketball team at UCLA and came off the bench behind starter Darren Collison. As the sixth man, he averaged just 8.3 points, 2.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.
The Bruins have now had three players go on to win the MVP award after centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton each earned the honor during their playing careers.
Abdul-Jabbar won the award a record six times and Walton received the honor once in 1978.
David Gottlieb, Sports editor
UCLA baseball coach John Savage is spending a portion of his summer coaching the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, and he brought one of his pitchers with him.
Rising junior Jon Olsen has made two appearances for the team, and on Sunday he was named a member of the roster for Team USA’s upcoming series against Cuba.
“It’s an honor to be the head coach,” Savage said. “It’s fun being around the best amateur players in the country that are freshmen and sophomores. It’s very competitive.”
Olsen has picked up a victory and totaled 3 2/3 innings pitched, striking out six and yielding three runs without walking a batter.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty good,” Savage said. “90-93. Good curve ball. Kind of an extension of the season. I thought he looked comfortable and he had conviction and he made pitches and seemed to be very comfortable in a USA uniform.”
Team USA has gone 8-1 so far this summer. Savage said that the shortstops and catchers on the team were particularly skilled.
“The talent level is very high and it’s fun to be a part of that,” Savage said. “It’s a really good measuring stick for myself, just in terms of evaluation.”
Kelsey Angus, assistant Sports editor
Torrey Van Winden will not be returning to UCLA women’s volleyball next season.
The rising sophomore was the Bruins’ third-leading hitter in kills as their primary right-side hitter, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in the process. She will be transferring to Cal Poly where her sister, Adlee Van Winden, plays both indoor and beach volleyball.
To fill Van Winden’s shoes, UCLA will bring in a recruiting class that VolleyballMag.com named third in the nation, behind Texas and Wisconsin.
The Bruins, who made it to the round of eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament, will add seven new athletes to their roster this fall – three pin hitters, two middle blockers, a setter and a libero.
The class is highlighted by four players who were included in the VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 list – Alexis Light, Mac May, Jenny Mosser and Emily Ryan.
In addition to seven incoming freshmen, the Bruins also acquired transfer student Sarah Sponcil from Loyola Marymount. Sponcil, the 2017 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and a two-time receiver of All-American Honorable Mention accolades, will have one year of indoor and two years of beach eligibility at UCLA.