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An Uneventful But Very Predictable Signing Day For UCLA Basketball

So to no one's surprise Ray McCallum Jr. just announced his decision to play for his Dad this afternoon. It happened mins ago on what is turning out to be just another anti climatic spring signing day for UCLA (Trey Zeigler, the other so called target is also going to play for his Dad at Central Michigan). Springing signing day has never been much of a big deal for UCLA hoops under Ben Howland except for noticeable exception in RW (and even he was not really a nationally heralded recruit).  Let's just say I don't find McCallum's decision disappointing.  Neither do I consider it as a downer for UCLA basketball.

I do think the Ray decision (which shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone with basketball pulse, just like it wasn't a surprise when that Jrue Holiday was going to cruise to the NBA after his one season in Westwood) should once again underscore the strategic decisions (or lack thereof) the UCLA coaching staff made on the recruiting trail this season. From what I have seen and read it appears to me that the only reason Ray Jr. dragged out his "decision" into Spring was to make sure that his Dad didn't get canned during or right after the season. 

One could reasonably conclude that while Ray might have been sincere in his "interest" in UCLA, his high profile recruiting also helped his Dad's cause of holding on to his job.  Pretty much all recruiting experts (you can just go through the Twitter feeds of pundits such as Dave Telep and Eric Bossi) have been predicting that Ray (and Trey) is going to play for his Dad.  In fact, per Telep, Ray's Dad had been so confident about landing Ray that he didn't bother bringing in a pg in his last two classes.  Honestly, that is ok and I don't think we should be all that upset about it.

The question is if this intel was well known among recruiting junkies closely tracking UCLA hoops or national college basketball recruiting scene, what was our staff doing spending so much resources and man hours to pursue him? I think recruiting him so hard (at expense of perhaps not paying attention elsewhere) wasn't very strategic and efficient on the part of UCLA staff.  I wish we had gone harder for kids like Keala King from our own back yard (who was snatched up during Fall by programs like Arizona State).

Still I don't feel all that distressed about that lack of strategic thinking given the signs we are seeing about Ben Howland moving to address his staff make up. Hopefully next group of staff will be more prudent while helping put together UCLA's recruiting strategy.  The sky is not falling though and I have more thoughts on how nothing really dramatic happened today (in terms of being a setback for UCLA hoops) after the jump.

As I have said previously, it is not a disaster that Howland didn't land McCallum or Zeigler. If somehow McCallum ends up at UCLA, it would have been a miracle. It doesn't happen much in sports . What was more important for me this offseason was to see how the Lee and Honeycutt situation turns out. I like what I have heard from Lee to date on that front. If Honeycutt also stays put, I think that would also be a healthy sign.

The recruiting season is not over with today. We will see if Howland can bring in couple of more role players like Deonte Burton and perhaps Jon Lloyd. Let's hope they along with Zeke Jones turn out to be serviceable options while a new staff helps Howland bring in a great class in 2011. That brings us to the issue of new staff. I think this is one of the key storylines of this off-season. What kind of staff Howland will be putting together? I like what I am reading to date.

We need Howland and a revamped staff to hit the recruiting trail with a full court press and get in the  for 2011 recruits from Southern California such as Angel Chol, and Norvel Pelle, and other west coast recruits such as Josiah Turner (Sacramento) and Gary Bell (Washington). Also note Tuner and Pelle's academics could be potential issues. It's the class of 2011 that will make or break Howland's tenure at UCLA.

We have already gotten good news of Lee's return. We will close out this class hopefully with couple of solid role players. Now let's hope Josh Smith is working hard during the off-season to get in better shape. Let's hope Howland puts together a staff that is more strategic when it comes to recruiting and is more effective in providing leadership by being effective communicators in Howland's staff.

So as I said the sky didn't fall. Nothing really dramatic happened today that is worth getting worked up over one way or another. The pressure is still on Howland though to get it done.  Then again we all knew that around here on BN.