First of all welcome to Norman Powell. We are all excited about him.
Coach Ben Howland gives his reasons of why we should look forward to see him in a Bruin uniform:
"He's one of the most athletic kids that we will have had in this program in a while and one of the most athletic kids since I've been here," Howland said. "He's very explosive and has outstanding quickness and will be an excellent defensive player. He's very good at making plays, both for himself and his teammates."
While Powell sounds more than fired up:
"I'm overexcited," said Powell, who verbally committed to UCLA in September over Arizona and San Diego State. "Words can't explain how I feel right now. I'm so relieved I get to go a college I've been looking to since I was little."
As helpful as the Powell commitment is for our program, we (all of us on the frontpage) are very concerned about no point guards in this year's recruiting class and the state of backcourt recruiting given all the whiffs from last two years. Here are the recruiting targets Howland and his staff went after and struck out on this recruiting season:
- Josiah Turner (Arizona)
- Jahii Carson (Arizona State)
- Quinn Cook (Duke)
Howland and his staff spent so much time recruiting those guys that they ended up being too late and appeared non schalant in recruiting viable targets such as Jabarie Hinds (committed to West Virginia) and Spencer Dinwiddle (committed to Colorado). The list of misses is not pretty and frankly not acceptable for a program in the caliber of UCLA. Right now Bruins apparently don't have any other targets (at least publicly) on their radar and they might end up scrambling this upcoming spring like they did this past one and end up making another desperate signing from the JUCO ranks.
This is not a way to build and maintain an elite program and it raises a lot of concerns about the recruiting strategies being deployed by Howland's staff. This year's recruiting misses also didn't happen in a vacuum. Last year we wasted a lot of time and resources recruiting guys like Ray McCallum (Detroit) and Trei Zeigler (Central Michigan), who Bruins didn't really have a good shot with even though those guys totally egged Howland and his staff on for their own PR purposes (you know the dreaded line of "he is also considered UCLA as one of his other primary offers"). We ended up losing a kid like Anthony Brown to Stanford, who we probably had a better shot at landing if Howland and his staff had gone after him much harder earlier in the process.
We realize there is a lot of guarded optimism around this upcoming season. That is nice. However, the pressure is really on Howland to put together a solid season (in which he doesn't have the team backing into the tourney as some pathetic bubble team). He has not really gotten it done in recruiting last two classes when it comes to bringing in elite PGs.
The fact is we wouldn't have made those Final-4 runs if we didn't have guys like JF, DC and RW leading us at point. That is where Howland needs to eventually get us back to (or at least put us in position to contend for conference championships and Final-4 runs). It is unclear if we have adequate talent in our current roster at the pg spot and it is not a comforting feeling to see our recruiting board and find out we don't have any elite pgs line up to play for UCLA.