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UCLA's Ben Howland pleased to see Celtics in Finals

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Most Los Angeles residents would rather brave rush hour on the 405 freeway than root for Boston during the NBA playoffs, but forgive UCLA coach Ben Howland if he fist pumped under the table when the Celtics closed out the Magic last week.

That's because Howland knew a Celtics-Lakers NBA finals meant Boston would practice at Pauley Pavilion this week. And that ensured Howland a little extra face time with Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who just happens to be the father of elite combo guard Austin Rivers, one of UCLA's top recruiting targets in the class of 2011.

The Boston Herald set the scene from Tuesday's Celtics practice:

UCLA coach Ben Howland greeted Rivers when he walked in.

"Great job," he said. "I'm very happy for you."

Then Howland asked about Rivers' son, top recruit Austin, whom he hopes to have by the school this weekend.

Austin Rivers, Rivals.com's top-rated guard in the class of 2011, is in Los Angeles after playing in a Nike AAU event there during Memorial Day Weekend. Rivers recently listed Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Kansas and Kentucky as his favorites, so UCLA certainly has some ground to make up.

It was tough for a while because I was committed to Florida, but I wasn’t completely committed – and I knew that. I wanted to look at other schools, but I have so much respect for Coach (Billy) Donovan and the program that I felt it was wrong to do that. But then I realized that this is my life and I only get one chance to make this decision – and I need to make the right one.

I ended up de-committing and then other schools started recruiting me. Word spreads quickly and it’s gotten crazy. There were schools that were uncomfortable recruiting me when I was still committed, so de-committing just made everything easier for me.

It’s been crazy and I’m hoping to make a decision before my high school season starts.

Sounds like Howland needs all the face with Rivers and his dad he can get.

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