UCLA Basketball: Where Wings Soar

UCLA basketball is in hot pursuit of some of the best wings (small forward/shooting guards) in the country (more details on the individual recruits at the end of the post).  If you are a young wing recruit it would make great sense to come to UCLA.  For if Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee get drafted this week and play in the NBA, they will continue the recent tradition under Coach Ben Howland of very successful wings both in the NBA and while in college. 

Ten players have started in the wing position under CBH.  Discounting Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, four of the remaining eight are NBA starters.  Of the four not in the pros, two were not CBH recruits (Dijon Thompson and Cedric Bozeman).  Of the remaining two, Josh Shipp suffered some injuries which hurt his pro potential (Josh was a much better athlete his freshmen year and but-for injuries IMHO would have been a NBA player) and Michael Roll who was the least athletically of the group but was still All-Pac-10 and team MVP his senior year. 

However, it is not just that CBH recruited well. Rather, he made all these players better.  Even Arron Afflalo, arguably the best of the group as a freshman, went from all-freshman team to all-conference team to Pac-10 MVP in his three years.  We have heard a lot from the scouts on how UCLA and CBH improve players and the stats seem to back that up.

Below is a list of the starting wings by season under CBH.  College honors are listed first, then pro-accomplishments in parenthesis. 

2010-11

Malcolm Lee, All-Conference, All-Defensive Team

Tyler Honeycutt, All-Conference

2009-10

Michael Roll, leading scorer, All-Conference

Tyler Honeycutt, All-Freshman Team

2008-09

Josh Shipp, leading scorer, Second Team All-Conference

Jrue Holiday, All-Freshman Team (starter in NBA)

2007-08

Russell Westbrook, Third Team All-Conference, Defensive Player of the Year (NBA All-Star)

Josh Shipp

2006-07

Arron Afflalo, leading scorer, Pac-10 Player of the Year (starter in the NBA)

Josh Shipp

2005-06

Arron Afflalo leading scorer, First Team All-Conference

Cedric Bozeman

2004-05

Arron Afflalo, All-Freshman Team

Josh Shipp

2003-04

Trevor Ariza All-Freshman Team (NBA Starter)

Dijon Thompson

[A few notes, Thompson played 4 his senior year, Bozeman started as a PG, Westbrook and Holiday are pro-PGs, etc.  This list only includes starting position for players that season at UCLA.] 

My point on this list if you are a wing, there is arguably no better place to learn the game than UCLA.  It will help you get to the next level and improve you throughout your career.

This brings me to our current wing recruits.  As best I can tell UCLA is in the running for the some of the best wings for 2012.  Let me highlight just two that according to some reports UCLA is close to signing . 

1. Shabazz Muhammad: simply the best high school player and is from Las Vegas.  My favorite line of the ESPN review: "Each class has a prospect that is willing to do anything to win. . . .[f]or the class of 2012, it appears to be Muhammad."

2.  Jordan Adams, ranked #61 in this class and a great scorer from all parts of the floor, hails from Virginia. 

Now before I say too much on these guys, let me just make a couple points.  First, notice they are not from California or even Pac-10 states.  UCLA has had problems in recent years recruiting non-Californians and/or Pac-10 area players.  Getting either one of these two would be big for UCLA, as it would send a strong signal that UCLA is back on the national recruiting front. 

IMHO the biggest problem in recent years for UCLA has been recruiting.  I do not want to rehash that argument other than to  add that California has been down recently on talent.  It is important for UCLA to have a national reach again. 

Second, attacks are coming against UCLA that despite UCLA being a front runner for Shabazz and Jordan, they will not go to UCLA.  This is very different from recent years when we were not even relevant to the national recruiting discussion.  UCLA is strongly in the running for some of the best players in the country beginning with the wings listed above being just two.  Others don't want to hear or acknowledge that.  Fine, I understand but if CBH and staff land one of the big names from outside California and the Pac-10, it will be a whole new game recruiting wise and other schools know it. 

And for kids like Shabazz and Jordan, listen up; there is arguably no school that can do more for you as past UCLA wings have shown.

Go Bruins!

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