Local TV station profile on Zach LaVine (via YouTube)
As 4everBruin and Bellerophron have noted, and much of the Bruin-related media have written on since last night, Coach Howland and his staff have picked up their first verbal commitment for the 2013 class. And it is a good one - Zach LaVine, a 6'3 point guard out of Bothell, WA. Zach holds the expected offers from the major Pacific Northwest programs, as well as scholarship offers from Baylor, Louisville, Memphis, Tennessee and Texas.
The last few months have seen Zach grow both in physical stature - with a concern that he may outgrow the point - and in recruiting profile. He is currently rated by Scout.com as the 17th best point guard in the Class of 2013, and the 73rd ranked high school prospect overall. That might be an understatement of his potential however - folks who have a subscription to BRO might want to log on and read up on Greg Hicks' thoughts on LaVine to see where I am coming from. CBSsports.com currently lists him as the 76th best prospect in their own rankings, but their college recruiting blogger also noted that he may move higher when that list is next refreshed in light of his play last spring. No matter who is doing the ranking of or leading the discussion of Zach, he is one of the elite players on the west coast in next year's high school class.
After news of his verbal commitment broke, Zach talked to the local beat writers and to some of the national writers covering recruiting. He told CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello that UCLA felt like a home away from home, while sharing with Jon Gold that UCLA is his Dad's favorite school and an overall family connection to Westwood. SI.com wrote a bit about the commitment in this morning's recruiting roundup, including this note and following quote from Zach.
LaVine has the ability to play either the one- or two-guard and has boosted his stock since the beginning of the AAU camp circuit. He's well aware of UCLA's recent recruiting success (top prospects Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson pledged in the 2012 class), and he hopes to improve -- and be positioned to make an immediate impact -- before his arrival to campus in 2013.
"I can score, but I need to work on my fundamentals as a point guard," LaVine said. "I come with the mindset that I feel like I'm better than anyone I step on the court with."
Jon Gold posted a transcript of his interview with Zach on the Daily News UCLA blog, finishing up with Zach's thoughts on finally committing to UCLA (bolding mine)
JG: I talk to some kids, and they talk about playing time or they're opportunity and the team, but you sound really excited about UCLA. What does this mean to you, now that you can finally say the process is done?
ZL: "It means a tremendous amount to me right now. Me and my dad, going through the hardest process. I feel like not many kids have had the process my dad and I have had over the last couple years, staying up late, shooting in the rain, running in the rain, 1,000 shots, 600 shots, 500 shots, working on core flexibility, plyometrics. It's been a long process. Im glad to get it over with. It's monkey off my back. It's an accomplishment for my family.
"It's a compliment to go to UCLA. It's an honor."
Yep, I think we all know how you feel Zach!
To be honest, I can't say that getting another elite recruit from under Lorenzo Romar's nose in Seattle is giving me a sad. And while this is certainly a positive development for next fall's recruiting outlook and a great get for the program, let's all remember not to take this moment for more than it is. It will be several months before LaVine can sign his Letter of Intent and formally become a Bruin, let alone step on the court at Pauley Pavilion.
In the meantime, it is up to Scott Garson and Phil Matthews to keep their feet on the gas over the next few months to get Zach some good company, and for Coach Howland to use that top-rated class coming into Westwood to the best of their talent in the coming season. And with the concern that Zach may grow into a combo guard by the time he comes to Westwood, the need at point guard will still need to be addressed in this incoming class of 2013.
Still, a great moment for Zach LaVine, his family and for the Bruins. For anyone looking for tape of Zach, he has a YouTube channel with a few highlight clips.