Kyle Anderson’s commitment raises hopes for UCLA resurgence
By Jeff Eisenberg
Tue Sep 20 09:59am EDT
In the three-plus years since Kevin Love and Darren Collison propelled UCLA to its third straight Final Four in 2008, the Bruins have missed the NCAA tournament altogether once and failed to get out of the first weekend twice.
Expect the 2012-13 season to be UCLA's return to the national stage.
Although the Bruins lack the perimeter talent to complement one of the nation's deepest and most talented frontcourts next season, the 2012 recruiting class coach Ben Howland has reeled in should replenish the roster.
Versatile 6-foot-8 point forward Kyle Anderson, the No. 2 prospect in Rivals.com's class of 2012 rankings, committed to UCLA late Monday night, selecting the Bruins over Florida, Georgetown and hometown Seton Hall. The New Jersey native adds his unique blend of size, vision and facilitating skills to a class that already includes four star forward Jordan Adams and quick-rising point guard Dominic Artis and may yet include some more top talent.
UCLA has long been considered one of the favorites to land Shabazz Muhammad, a Las Vegas native who is the class 0f 2012's consensus top-ranked prospect. Furthermore, new assistant coach Korey McCray reportedly has made serious inroads with a pair of big men from his former state, Georgia's Shaq Goodwin and Tony Parker.
It's always dangerous to think more than one year ahead at UCLA because of Howland's history of players leaving for the NBA a year earlier than expected, but consider the lineup the Bruins could field if Muhammad commits.
Either Artis or North Carolina transfer Larry Drew would start at point guard with the trio of Muhammad, Anderson and defensive stopper Tyler Lamb sharing time at wing. Reeves Nelson and Joshua Smith would start in the frontcourt if both return to school for another year, but even if one leaves, twins Travis and David Wear or defensive specialist Anthony Stover are all adequate replacements.
A potential resurgence for UCLA could coincide with a revival for the recently struggling Pac-12's basketball fortunes.
Two straight monster recruiting classes for Arizona's Sean Miller have the Wildcats in position to potentially contend for a Final Four again in 2013. Furthermore, Washington should be better in two years than next season assuming young perimeter talents Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross haven't left for the professional ranks.
Arizona's surprise run to the Elite Eight last March not withstanding, it has been a bleak couple of years for the Pac-12, which was gutted by early defections in 2008 and 2009 and then experienced too much coaching turnover to quickly replenish its rosters. The 2012-13 season, however, may be the year the league finally returns to the forefront.