One of the nation's top recruits and one who most have called the key to UCLA's 2010 recruiting class has committed to the Bruins. According to Jon Gold, Josh Smith, a 6'10'', 270 lbs. center from Kentwood High School in Covington, Washington has decided to become a Ben Ball Warrior. The highly coveted center had narrowed his choices down to UCLA and the hometown school, Washington, but the Bruins have long been viewed as the favorite.
According to Rivals.com, Smith is the nation's 19th best recruit and third best center in the class of 2010. He has the potential to be a dominant figure in the low post and along with the plethora of big men in this year's freshmen class, the Bruins appear to be stacked up front for the foreseeable future. Here is Rivals' Jerry Meyer's scouting report on the future Bruin.
Blessed with superb hands and a soft shooting touch, Smith gobbles up rebounds and scores efficiently around the basket. Quick off the floor for his size, Smith is also a tremendous shot blocker and positional defender. He is also a dangerous passer with his overall strong feel for the game. Shaping up to be the dominant low post player in his class.
This is a major get for CBH and with Tyler Lamb already in the fold, a monster recruiting class is in the works. Welcome to Westwood Josh!
Elsewhere in recruiting, Harrison Barnes, the five star small forward from Iowa will announce his college decision on Friday, although he is a longshot for the Bruins. If that name sounds familiar, Barnes is the recruit who N posted about, talking about the amazing blog entry Barnes wrote about his official visit to UCLA.
Another note: Thursday is the first day of the early signing period so the UCLA recruits can put their signature on a National Letter of Intent and make their commitment official.
UPDATE I: David Wharton of the LA Times also has Smith's commitment so it looks like a done deal.
Washington state prospect Josh Smith, one of the top-rated big men in the nation, has committed to UCLA.
A 6-9, 270-pound center from Kentwood High, Smith came to the decision about an hour ago, his father said, choosing the Bruins over Washington.
He made his official visit to Westwood just a few weeks ago but had held off on a decision until after visiting with the Huskies staff.
Continue after the jump for some quotes from Smith.
UPDATE II: Jon Gold, who first broke the story, spoke with Smith and has some good stuff from the center, including how the history of Coach Wooden's lured him in.
"Not trying to disrespect any other school, but with UCLA, people see those four letters and they remember all those great players, those champions, Coach Wooden," Smith said. "I want to wear those four letters well."
Ummm, can anyone here disagree with that line of thinking? I think not. Smith also speaks about wanting to get to work soon to make himself better and to be a part of the team.
Smith said he planned on heading to Westwood in June to get a head start on weight training and conditioning. A fixture in the post, Smith has said he wants to improve his explosiveness.
"When I talked to the coaches I wanted to be an impact player right away," Smith said. "That isn't necessarily starting. If I'm coming off the bench and helping the team win, that's a good thing. We'll have a young team, and I think it'd be good for us to gel together, get that chemistry."
That's the mentality of a Ben Ball Warrior right there. It's tough not to get excited about Smith wearing those four letters across his chest on Nell and John Wooden Court. Smith also has his eye on a degree.
"I've been telling people, I'd take it if the opportunity comes," Smith said. "I plan on staying all four years; the first thing I want to do is get my degree. But let's say I become a lottery pick my fresh year, I'd take the opportunity. I'm not trying to run to the NBA as fast as I can. Success for most people isn't success for some people. I'm trying to make the most out of my college degree."
Now, I warn everyone out there not to get overly excited about this. Yes, he is entertaining the option of returning for a few years, but he does say he'd jump at a lottery opportunity and I think that will happen sooner rather than later. I'm going to treat a sophomore year as a bonus, but the fact that he's even discussing get a degree says a lot about the kid and I hope that whether he stays one or four years, he gets that degree at some point. Check out Gold's entire piece for some other great stuff on Smith talking with Kevin Love and how he feels comfortable in LA with the family he has here.