These past few years recruiting has been dominated by one school and one school only, the Kentucky Wildcats. Head Coach John Calipari has been able to pull recruits from all over the nation, and he has been able to get the best of the best in high school basketball. It has lead to lots of success for Calipari, whether it was with Memphis or Kentucky, Calipari has had dominant teams in college basketball every year. Kentucky needs to move over this year though.UCLA and coach Ben Howland were able to take down the champs and claim the No. 1 spot in the class rankings by edging Kentucky, keeping the Wildcats from their fourth consecutive No. 1 class. Both teams scored four ESPN 100 players, but the Bruins’ two top-five recruits put them over the top.UCLA has done an unbelievable job getting top ranked players to come join him on the west coast. He has been able to bring top player in the country, Shabazz Muhammad, a top five player, Kyle Anderson and many other big name players.
The Bruins have been down the past few years after an unbelievable run of four straight Final Fours. Howland was wanted out this past year after some serious struggles. Howland’s best player, Reeves Nelson, was kicked off of the team for allegedly causing problems within the team. “This is not a great day for the program and, of course, for me,” Howland said, and he was right. The most storied college basketball program in the country was currently at its lowest point in history, and Howland just happened to be at the helm for it all.
These past few summers scouring the AAU circuit, Howland was able to nab top players throughout the country. Keeping them away from schools such as Kentucky, Duke and UNC. The Bruins biggest acquisition came when #1 player, Shabazz Muhammad, signed on to join Howland on the West Coast. The explosive wing shook the Pac-12 when he chose UCLA on signing day. He’s currently projected as a top-three pick in multiple 2013 NBA mock drafts, but before he goes pro, Muhammad could restore UCLA to a prestigious post in the Pac-12 and on the national scene. The Bruins didn’t possess a consistent offensive catalyst during their tumultuous 2011-12 campaign. They have one now. Their 2nd best recruit, Kyle Anderson, has been honing his skills under legendary coach Bob Hurley Sr.. Anderson led the Friars of St. Anthony’s to the New Jersey State Championship. Anderson is a very unique talent. Anderson is a skilled small forward that can play all three perimeter positions. He is a great passer with excellent court vision and is a good decision maker and is probably best playing a ‘point forward’ position where he is a match up problem. Standing at 6’7”, Anderson causes problems all over the floor for opposing teams.
The Bruins have put together the pieces to help get them out of their slump. They have the pieces to help them take the Pac-12 by storm. I am very excited to see what the Bruins do with all this talent that they have brought in, and I want to see if Howland can put it all together. We will just have to wait and see.