As if the 2012-13 season point guard situation is not confusing enough, wait until one thinks about the 2013-14 season.
First consideration, does Kyle Anderson stay for his sophomore year? This, of course, is assuming Kyle is soon allowed to play his freshman year. It is now rare for a top five recruit to stay past his freshman season. Even if Kyle does play point guard, there is reason to believe he is not the point guard for 2013-14.
UCLA has recruited two players for 2013-14 that can pass, Zach Lavine and Allerik Freeman. Rivals and ESPN list Lavine as a point guard but Scout.com now lists him as a shooting guard. Zach is growing fast from just 6' a few years ago to 6'4" now. Maybe he is not a point guard anymore but he certainly has the size and athletic ability to play other positions.
For their part Scout who doubts Lavine as a point guard now, in an old article mentions Freeman as one:
Freeman made some impressive strides with his game from his sophomore summer to his junior summer. The 6-foot-4 combo guard prospect developed his body and is significantly stronger. A talented passer, Freeman is especially effective in transition where he can make plays for himself and others. By the end of the 2011 summer, Freeman had developed a legit jump shot and is a guy that can play both guard spots.
Allerik is one of the more unique players in the Class of 2013. He can play the 2 or the 3. He has the ability to create as a passer. He possesses an exceptionally strong upper body and can best be described as a power wing player.
What does this mean? UCLA has two very good recruits who can play multiple positions. Can they play point? Maybe but that seems like a gamble. Remember Malcolm Lee came in as point guard? Lee was a very good player for Ben Howland but was not successful as a point.
This brings up an interesting point. When was UCLA last true freshman point guard recruit? Answer: Jerime Anderson in 2008. (Notice, I did not say successful recruit.) It has been a long time since UCLA has recruited a true point guard, and even longer since we recruiting one who turned out to be a success in Westwood.
UCLA came close late with Stevie Clark who decided to return to high school this year. UCLA is still in the hunt for one true point guard who would be a very good get, Rysheed Jordan. Rysheed is coming to UCLA this Saturday for a visit. Rysheed is an exciting player:
Jordan is a big point guard and high level athlete complete with long arms and a sturdy frame. Right now his bread and butter is as a north to south creator but he has the first step to get his own shot east to west as well.
Rysheed is ranked 56th nationally by ESPN and 26th by Rivals. He would be a great edition to Howland's successes and may be the next point guard pro (Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Jordan Farmar, and Russell Westbrook all played and learned from Howland).
If Jordan does not come, then UCLA probably goes without a true point guard recruit in 2013-14. However, 2014 has two really good local point guard recruits in line in Jordan McLaughin and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, ranked 35th and 37th nationally. UCLA has a good shot at both.
But here is the thing. Point guard is arguably the most important position in basketball. Here's UCLA's point guards the last four years:
- 2012: (at least on defense) is a North Carolina transfer, Larry Drew II
- 2011: Jerime Anderson, possibly the only person to start at point guard on 2two UCLA teams to miss the tournament.
- 2010: Lazeric Jones, a JC transfer. Hard working kid but hardly an elite recruit.
- 2009: Jerime Anderson, the lazy party boy edition.
You have to go back to 2008 until UCLA has a real point guard in Darren Collison. More interesting during Howland's successful run from 2005-08, Howland had TWO NBA point guards on the roster.
- 2005: Farmar and Collison
- 2006: Collison and Westbrook
- 2007: Collison and Westbrook
- 2008: Collison and Holiday
A lot of things have gone wrong for Howland recently but failing to have good point guards may be pretty high on the list. Howland is gambling his job on the Kyle Anderson/Larry Drew combo for 2012-13. If that gamble is not successful, he may not be around for the next gamble in 2013-14.