This afternoon at 4 p.m. PST on ESPN, the Jordan Brand Classic, will take place featuring UCLA's recruits and Shabazz Muhammad, for one of the last times on different teams. The recruit Bruin fans are now waiting for, Tony Parker, will also be playing with Anderson's East team. Although Parker is no closer to a decision, you know Shabazz and Kyle will be lobbying him hard and that can't hurt. Anderson in particular has been great recruiting throughout the process.
"He's going to definitely score," Howland said. "What numbers? I don't know, but he's definitely going to have the ability to put the ball in the basket."
The test of Howland as a teacher will be on display as well though. Shabazz will likely show that he needs some work on defense. This is why his dad said he is coming to UCLA:
Known for his defensive mind, Howland believes Muhammad can become an elite defender, a selling point in the recruiting process.
"I think potentially he can be a monster (defensively)," Howland said. "That's one of the things I know his dad (Ron Holmes) and he and I have talked about a lot. One of the reasons our players have gone from this level at UCLA and gone to the NBA and done so well is that, the difference between the NBA and college is there is less help-side defense in the pros because of the rules.
Shabazz is very close to a lock for success but more important than his individual abilities it is how these guys (including are "winners."who is not in the game this afternoon)
Anderson is the perfect compliment to Muhammad who has the ability to make Muhammad a 25-points-per-game scorer. A 6-7 "point forward," he has excellent court vision, a knack for finding the open scorers, is among the top passers in the game and has the unselfish attitude you want in a skilled ball handler. They could put on quite a two-man show if Howland lets them, but it's doubtful any one or two players would become that much of a focus on a Howland-coached team. . . .
Later, he added that the incoming recruits all share a team-first, unselfish mentality. He noted that Muhammad has won three state titles at Bishop Gorman high in Las Vegas, Anderson's St. Anthony's team in New Jersey has gone 65-0 over the last two seasons and Adams was part of an Oak Hill Academy team in Virginia that went 44-0 this season.
"All these kids are about winning," Howland said.
We have been critical of UCLA assistants since Kerry Keating left. That problem may have been fixed. For as Howland said of assistant coach Phil Matthews:
As for this class, Howland congratulated assistant coach Phil Mathews for "spearheading" the recruitment of Muhammad, Adams and Anderson.
Of course the other key recruiter may have been Kyle Anderson. After Shabazz called Howland to tell him he accepted, he passed the phone to Anderson:
"The first thing I said to Kyle is, 'Not only are you a great player, you are a great recruiter,' " Howland recalled. "What's great for me is these kids recruiting each other. That's the best kind of recruiting in the world.
Hopefully Kyle and Shabazz can work together to get Tony Parker to come as well. Winners know they can't do it alone.