Ben Howland has had his ups and downs as the head coach for the UCLA Bruins.
He has coached three of the most successful Bruins teams in the past decade from 2006-08 and also three of the more disappointing teams from 2009-2011.
He was the first UCLA coach since John Wooden to coach three straight Pac-10 Conference Championship teams. There is no doubt that he can be a great coach, but his underachieving teams of the past three seasons have made him look like a coach on the hot seat.
Although the previously-named Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) is one of the weaker major conferences in college basketball, Howland hopes to change that reputation. He may be a coach on the hot seat, but he knows how to recruit with the best of them.
This year's incoming freshmen have been dubbed the "Big 3," consisting of Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker and highly-touted Shabazz Muhammad.
Howland is the right coach for these three players, and here's why.
Howland knows how to coach NBA talent and the past is proof to that testament. He has coached players such as Jordan Farmar, Aaron Afflalo, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday.
All of these players have shared some success in the NBA and Coach Howland is a big reason for that. He is a great teacher and his greatest downfall seems to be recruiting talent that is one-and-done.
Shabazz Muhammad seems to be a one-and-done type of player, being one of the best recruits in the nation, and that may be a good thing. If Howland shows these players that he can smoothly transition them into the NBA, he can lock up any recruit.
He is the perfect guy to keep these players grounded until the end of the season when their minds shift towards the NBA. He did so with past UCLA stars, leading them to successful seasons.
His recruiting has been a bit down the past few seasons, but this is a huge class for him. This could be the class that gets Howland off the hot seat and into UCLA greatness.
Managing top talent goes along with the coaching of current NBA players.
Howland has seen top talent before, so he knows the dos and don'ts of dealing with top players. UCLA is one of the best programs, if not the best, in college basketball history.
Although the program has not seen the success that John Wooden had as head coach when he won championship after championship decades ago, Howland can bring the program back. With his recruiting skills, the sky is the limit for UCLA.
Some of these recruits may be done after just one season with the Bruins, but John Calipari at Kentucky recruits one-and-done players like it's going out of style and he still wins championships.
If anyone knows how to manage top talent, it's Howland. He just needs to take the talent to the next level of collegiate greatness.
Ben Howland has been UCLA's head coach since 2003 and is going on his 10th season with the school. He currently has a record of 189-83 as the Bruins' head coach and will most likely improve his winning percentage this year.
Since 2008, Howland is just 56-43—not an acceptable winning percentage for a school that is known for basketball. None of his teams in this span have had less than 10 losses or more than 23 wins. This is uncharacteristic for Howland-coached teams.
Granted, Howland has coached some of the more disappointing Bruins teams in recent history for the past few seasons. He also has a great track record at the school. From 2006-08, he became one of three college basketball coaches in history to win 30 games in three consecutive seasons, joining the likes of Adolph Rupp (Kentucky, 1947-49) and John Calipari (Memphis, 2006-08).
If UCLA wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season, it has to trust Howland's coaching and the "Big Three." If anyone can handle three of the top recruits in the country in one class besides John Calipari, it's Ben Howland.
He will definitely be under a microscope this season.