NOV 11, 2015 | MEN'S BASKETBALL
UCLA Signs Three Standouts to NLIs
By: UCLA Athletics
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA basketball program has received signed National Letters of Intent from high school seniors Ike Anigbogu, Lonzo Ball and Kobe Paras on the first day of the early signing period, it was announced today by head coach Steve Alford.
Anigbogu (first name pronounced ee-KAY), Ball and Paras will enroll at UCLA in 2016 and begin their freshman seasons in Westwood in the 2016-17 academic year.
Ball, a 6-foot-5 guard who has starred at Chino Hills High School (Chino Hills, Calif.), has been rated as the No. 8 player, nationally, in his high school class. ESPN.com and Scout.com have pegged him as the top point guard in the state of California and the Western region.
"Lonzo is an extremely talented player who will make an immediate impact for us as a freshman,” Alford said. “He’s established himself as one of the nation’s premier players, and we’re excited that he’s going to take that next step at UCLA. Lonzo is a tremendous scorer, passer and defender who has displayed great athleticism, instincts and size. Our coaching staff is excited to see what he can do in our program, and we know that he’s going to have a special career at UCLA.”
Ball averaged 24.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.1 assists for Chino Hills last season. He helped lead his high school team to the Division I state title game last season, securing first-team All-CIF Southern Section honors as a junior (2014-15) and sophomore (2013-14). He was among six finalists selected for the 2015 Player of the Year award sponsored by CalHiSports.com.
Anigbogu, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center from Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., has been rated the No. 35 player in his high school class by Scout.com (and No. 37 by Rivals.com). Scout.com has listed him as the top center in the state of California and in the West and as the No. 6 center, nationally (ranked No. 13 in the country by ESPN.com).
“Ike has established himself as one of the top centers on the West Coast and has made significant strides in the last year,” Alford said. “He’s a player with an NBA body, a very athletic big who has a chance to be a superior defender. His confidence continues to improve, he has a tremendous ceiling, and we know that he’s going to be a major part of our frontcourt when he arrives next season."
Paras, a 6-foot-6 guard who has spent the last two years in Los Angeles, grew up in the Philippines. As a junior last season at Cathedral High School, Paras averaged 15 points per game. He is currently attending Cathedral High School and is playing for the Middlebrooks Academy Team.
"We're always looking for players who’ve grown up immersed in basketball, and Kobe definitely fits that mold,” Alford said. “He just loves the game. To add a talented player like Kobe to our program is terrific. He’s a very athletic guard who plays with tremendous energy. We like how he can attack off the dribble and get to the rim in the open court, and we’re excited that he’ll be joining us in Westwood.”
Paras helped lead the Philippines to a gold medal in the FIBA Asia Under-18 3x3 championship in May 2013. He won the FIBA 3x3 Championships’ slam dunk contest in June 2015, representing the Philippines. Paras’ father, Benjie, was a professional basketball player in the Philippines and was the only player named both the rookie of the year and MVP in the same season (Philippine Basketball Association).
NOV 13, 2015 | MEN'S BASKETBALL
UCLA Basketball Inks T.J. Leaf to NLI
By: UCLA Athletics
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA basketball program has received a signed National Letter of Intent from high school senior T.J. Leaf during the early signing period, it was announced today by head coach Steve Alford.
Leaf, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward from El Cajon, Calif., has been rated the No. 13 player in his high school class, nationally, by ESPN.com. Named the CIF San Diego Section Division II Player of the Year last season, Leaf has also been tabbed No. 15 in the country by Rivals.com and No. 22 by Scout.com. He will enroll at UCLA in 2016 and be a freshman for the Bruins in 2016-17.
"We’re thrilled to welcome T.J. to the Bruin family,” Alford said. “He’s a very polished player who can knock down shots from all over the court and handle the ball. His great length, skill and athleticism make him especially dangerous both in the half court and in transition. The addition of T.J. to a recruiting class that already features Ike Anigbogu, Lonzo Ball and Kobe Paras really gives our program great momentum moving forward. We’re very excited to welcome these four outstanding young men to Westwood.”
Leaf averaged 27.4 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.8 steals per game as a junior last season at Foothill Christian. He guided is high school team to the CIF San Diego Section Division II championship in addition to earning 2015 Coastal League Player of the Year honors. Scout.com and ESPN.com have ranked Leaf as the No. 1 and No. 2 best power forward, respectively, in his high school class in the state of California and in the Western region.
As a sophomore in 2013-14, Leaf averaged 26.5 points, 12.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.0 steals per game. He was named the Sunset League Player of the Year as both a sophomore (2014) and freshman (2013). Leaf secured a spot on the 2013-14 MaxPreps Sophomore All-American honorable mention team.
During his freshman campaign in 2012-13, he earned first-team All-State Division V accolades from CalHiSports.com, becoming the only freshman named to the 10-person first or second teams. Leaf was a 2013 San Diego Union Tribune All-County second-team selection (was the only underclassman selected to the first or second team).
Leaf joins a recruiting class that already features a trio of high school seniors who signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. The Bruins other signees include Lonzo Ball (6-foot-5 guard from Chino Hills, Calif.), Ike Anigbogu (6-foot-10 center from Corona, Calif.) and Kobe Paras (6-foot-6 guard who resides in Los Angeles and grew up in Manila, Philippines).