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Monday UCLA Basketball Roundup: Recruiting Past and Present

UCLA lost to USC in a game that was pretty upsetting to us old-timers.  However, there may have been an interesting victory at that game for the future.  One of the recruiting visits for SUC that game was Shabazz Muhammad, who is rated 5 stars in Rivals. and by ESPN he is ranked number 4 overall and number 1 at his position at 98 and 5 stars.   Why is it good?  He is not only no longer considering USC but UCLA is on his very short list. 

Don't take our word for it, check out the UK site:

"UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke" sit at the top of Muhammad's list right now.

When asked about who was recruiting him the hardest, he had this to say:

"Probably UCLA. They stay in contact the most. But Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina are recruiting me hard, too.

So does this mean UCLA is the top team for Shabazz right now?

"Oh no, that does not mean it at all. It's hard to pick a top team. UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke are all right there."

Getting Shabazz would be amazing. describes him as follows (note he is a Class of 2012) prospect:

Very talented lefty with versatile game. Can score in a variety of ways and a very good athlete. Potential elite prospect in the class of 2011.

Long and short, Shabazz would be the best recruit UCLA has signed since Kevin Love.  More recruiting news after the jump.

When you look at UCLA's class for next year, right now, you'll only see Norman Powell listed, but in reality that list should also include the Wear twins.  While I don't think the Wear twins are saviors by any stretch, they will be older and a bit more experienced players.  I think that will help make a difference.  Speaking of not being saviors but being good potential players, here is a more recent ESPN review on Powell. 

UCLA signee 6-4 Norman Powell (San Diego, Calif./Lincoln) is still quite raw as an offensive player, but he doesn't need much space to get to the rim and his explosiveness is second to none on the west coast.

While I was watching him jump multiple people in a fun dunk drill, I may have been guilty of too much hyperbole.  The kid looks really good and not quite raw as the ESPN site says above but it is unfair to compare him to Russell Westbrook.  As Jon Gold writes:

In terms of his game, I can see a slight comparison [to former Bruin Russell Westbrook], but not really in terms of the point guard skills that Westbrook developed and honed. I'll tell you, though, I had a long conversation with a UCLA admin yesterday about Westbrook, and I really didn't realize the work he put in between freshman and sophomore year. He was in the gym every day working against college and NBA players, and apparently, Howland would call to check in, ask who was playing well, and they'd say, "Russell is the best one here." Howland would say, "Oh, of our guys? Good, we need him," and they'd respond, "No, the best one here, period. Better than the NBA guys." So before you place those unreal expectations on Powell, let's see him develop those work habits.

Which brings us to the next point.   It has been written over and over how the ML, Jermine Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Drew Gordon, and Bobo Morgan class killed UCLA.  Well, mistakes were made but it is unfair to hang it on those players still here. 

As I said yesterday, Malcolm Lee was the player for the Oregon weekend and interestingly, Malcolm is a strong candidate for first team all defense in the Pac-10.  Malcolm has held Jared Cunningham to his lowest point total for the season and forced BYU star Jimmer Fredette into his most TOs this year to name just two quick statistical examples.  If you watch ML chase around players on defense you will understand why he may be a bit tired on the offensive end most of these games. 

And if people talk about Malcolm going pro is that his fault?  Malcolm likely will be staying his senior year and for the record he has said:

Lee, who is averaging 12.8 points, said he has not pondered anything beyond helping the Bruins reach the NCAA tournament.

That is a perfect answer, shoot the kid is also doing well academically.  Last year Lee stepped up into the PG role and this year he has been the defensive stopper.  He has done all that can be reasonably asked of him.

Which brings me to the other PG of that class Jerime Anderson.  I for one have not been a fan of Anderson.  Last year he was benched for missing rehab sessions, had other issues and did not try on D.  He had his share of bonehead moments which have been documented here. 

But give Anderson credit.  He has worked hard and not given up.  While he has been up and down a bit this year, he IS UCLA's bench scoring (counting Josh Smith as a starter and Lane as a bench player for this purpose).  Anderson has scored 34 of UCLA's 51 bench points in Pac-10 play.  Two-thirds of our bench points are from Anderson.  There is a decent argument that our best team on the floor for smaller teams may include Anderson at the 2 guard. At a minimum Anderson deserves credit for burning teams like U$C and Oregon who play off him and pack it in on Smith and Nelson.

So while I am hopefully for recruiting Shabazz and excited to see Powell and the Wears next year, I think we are learning it is too early to give up on the class of 2008. 

Go Bruins.