So I was going to mostly stay away from my laptop today. My plan was to come on here and put up a post wishing you all a happy and safe 4th of July (which I will post right after this entry) and then enjoy the beautiful day. But I couldn't help myself from writing up a little Holiday roundup.
There are couple of great articles on one of the most momentous recruiting occasions in Howland era in Westwood. Greg Hicks, who is probably the best college basketball scout in America has a great write up over at Bruin Report Online (BRO). And since BRO has lifted their subscription firewall through the 4th, I will go ahead and excerpt some of the poignant grafs from Greg's article on Jrue (which you should read in the entirety by going here). Hicks lays out why Jrue's commitment is a significant development for UCLA basketball:
While the recruitment ended up in the Bruins' favor, Holiday was not always a lock to end up at UCLA. Holiday liked North Carolina when he was growing up and he developed a good relationship with Lorenzo Romar after his brother Justin committed to Washington. The fact that Howland was able to battle back in this recruitment, after apparently trailing early, is noteworthy. This is a good example of what happens when a power in college sports gets it rolling. It's similar to what happened with USC football. When a traditional power starts to put it together, and really has significant success on the field, it usually translates into more recruiting victories. We won't ever know the answer to this question, but you have to wonder if Holiday would've ended up at UCLA if the Bruins hadn't reached their second straight Final Four. From what I heard about the recruitment, it sounded like this year's Final Four appearance was a big deal with Holiday.
Holiday is such a good prospect that other players at his position weren't a real concern, but it's still very impressive that he's joining Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson in the Bruin class of 2008. Lee and Anderson are both exceptional prospects, with Lee also having the ability to play multiple spots. Of course, the Bruins may have been helped in Holiday's recruitment by the fact that Jrue is good friends with Anderson. But when you look at Washington's roster, and the lack of elite talent in the backcourt, it's impressive that Howland was still able to convince Holiday that Westwood was the right spot for him. Russell Westbrook, Mike Roll, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee are a formidable group of guards. Adding Holiday to the mix gives UCLA a pretty good chance at staking a claim to the best backcourt in the country for the next couple years.
"Joe Ford ate him up, but that told me he liked to compete," Kelly said. "(Holiday) has lost seven games and won two state titles in his high school career. He is an absolute winner, and when you define winner I'm not only talking about on the basketball court. I'm talking about in the classroom, with his family.
"Jrue Holiday has a way of leading his teammates in a way they respect him. For example, if a guy misses a pass, Jrue doesn't say, `Hey, you (stink). He says, `You're better than that."'
Jrue is excited:
"Defense is a big thing to me because I like playing defense," Holiday said. "We're going to have so many guards there that when one guy is covered, somebody can bring the ball up the court. But we're all going to play defense."