UCLA Big 3
For the first time in a long time, Coach Calipari doesn’t have to the incoming recruiting class with the most juice. Ben Howland and UCLA’s big freshman three include Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, and Tony Parker. That’s not even counting top-100 guard Jordan Adams.
Anderson is the player that I love the most out of the entire class of ’12. He’s a silky smooth heralded point guard or point forward who happens to be 6-8 in height. He’s ranked as a top-5 consensus player in the class of ’12. He has tremendous length and wing span for a perimeter player, but just needs to improve his play-making skills and an already adequate jumper. Most likely a one-and-done candidate and a surefire lottery pick in next years draft. Guys this size with Anderson’s skill level are few and far in between.
Muhammad is a small forward who showed his skill level in the 2012 McDonalds game by taking the MVP award. He doesn’t have great length at 6-5, but his body is strong and league ready. He is going to be as pure of a scorer as there is in college basketball right out of gate. He can put the ball in the basket any way that you ask him to do it; from the inside, from the out, to the rack, off the dribble. Muhammad is another one-and-done candidate and an instant impact player for the Bruins and on a national scale next season.
Parker is a 6-9 280 huge physical specimen. That is a huge boost in size in the paint for a team to add a center like Parker, but he’s not even the biggest guy on the team. Returner Joshua Smith checks in at 6-10 310, so put Parker and Smith down on the block and you are nearing 600 pounds of rim protection. Parker is just a bruising forward who dominated with his size in high school and will look to do the same down on the block next season under Howland.
UCLA also returns the Wear twins who are big men along with already mentioned top-100 guard Adams and ridiculously huge Smith. I think the Bruins are no worse than a top-5 preseason team and could find themselves in the top-3. This is a very scary crop of incoming freshman. That’s the beauty of being a UCLA, or a Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, UConn etc, because even when the program is struggling there are going to be big time talents who want to opportunity to bring them back to relevance.