Howard University's basketball team took another step into the big time with the announcement yesterday that the Bison will play UCLA Dec. 19, 1983, at Pauley Pavilion.

In the next few days, Coach A.B. Williamson also expects to receive confirmation of a game against the University of Hawaii in Honolulu scheduled for December 1983.

"Obviously, I'm very happy," Williamson said. "We've been trying to schedule top-flight opponents and that's a perfect West Coast trip."

Meanwhile, Williamson has to worry about next week, when the Bison open play Monday night against St. Paul at Burr Gymnasium. Two nights later, Bradley, the defending NIT champion, plays Howard here.

"We were 17-11 last year and the media and some people say we'll be a .500 team this year," Williamson said. "I'd be remiss as a coach if I felt we couldn't do better than that.

"We recruited some fine players and we're going after the MEAC championship. (North Carolina) A&T beat us three times and went to the NCAA's last year and we beat them three times the year before. We plan to turn things around."

Williamson said he is expecting big things from his only returning starter, 6-foot-5 Bernard Perry, a senior guard. Two transfers, 6-2 guard Charles Johnson and 6-5 David Wynn, will start and will have to make major contributions immediately if Howard is to contend in the conference.