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UCLA: Where the Best Come to Learn, Both On and Off the Court

UCLA head coach Ben Howland never stops teaching.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
UCLA head coach Ben Howland never stops teaching. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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If you want to play for an elite college basketball school but not read a book, you go to Connecticut.  If you don't want to play college basketball, but have to kill a year before you go pro, you go to Kentucky where they care more about draft position than championships.  If you want to play for an elite school, learn basketball, and get an education, you come to UCLA. 

As almost everyone knows by now, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams signed letters of intent yesterday to come to UCLA.  First, on Kyle Anderson: He has been ranked as high as #2 player in the country  and the first word to describe him is "smart" or an "incredibly high basketball IQ."  A 6'8" point guard/forward who has made believers out of the doubters who said he was too tall or too slow to be a point.  Some still say he is a facilitator or passer instead of point, but all say he is a winner. 

Why did he come to UCLA?   According to his AAU Coach:  "[Coach Ben Howland] runs plays instead of freelance offense and that's great training for the next level ." 

According to Kyle himself

However, during the recruiting process, Anderson learned more and more about Howland's reputation on the defensive side of the ball.

"That's an area I need to improve to make it to the next level, so he will help me out a lot," Anderson said. Often listed as a small forward, Anderson has a point guard's mentality and is comfortable with the ball in his hands, a la Magic Johnson. Defensively, he is in position limbo.

Anderson sees big things for himself and the Bruins in his first season. "Of course, winning the national championship and being a strong contributor," Anderson said, while describing his ideal UCLA experience. "Staying at UCLA until I am ready to go to the NBA and enjoying the whole college process."

Why does UCLA have so many players at the next level? Because it teaches basketball, ala the UCLA Factor.  

Anderson is all over Youtube and it is easy to find him.  A number of videos are here.   But if you watch just one, try this one recently posted by Jon Gold.  Why, well multiple times he fakes his opponent out so bad, they literally trip over their own feet.  In this video he dribbles, passes, rebounds, block shots, hits threes, etc.  You can see why he can legitimately be considered a candidate to play any position 1-4.   CBH said of his position

"He's going to have the ball a lot. Next year it will be Larry Drew and him playing the point. He can play with, without the ball. He's so good with the ball. He sees the floor so well. They'll definitely be playing together at times."

. . .

"I hope he can eventually defend the two, the four, the one. Defensively, (the three) is where he'll be most comfortable. He has to get that better at that end. Offensively, hes as good as there is out there."

The moral of the story is UCLA has finally recruited the PG its fans have been looking for, just not in the way we expected. 

The other player is a recruit, while not as splashy, a leader who also fills a need.  You look at the current team, and quite frankly since Michael Roll left, you have to ask where is the true three shooter?  Jordan Adams is "one of the best pure scorers in the country".UCLA has been missing for a while now.  He is also a winner and a leader, as CBH said:

Jordan Adams is a really good shooter. He's a team captain for Oak Hill, a very good team, one of the best in the country. We're really excited about him. Watched him play a lot this summer. He can play the wing, play the two, play the three. He's used to winning.

In one small way I feel sorry for Adams. All the stories yesterday are on Kyle Anderson.  But that is the way it always seems to be for Adams.  Remember when he played against #1 player in the country Shabazz Muhammad?   The stories were all about Shabazz but Adams still scored 39 or so points. Adams put on a shooting exhibition and outplayed Shabazz for parts of the game.  

Adams is 6'5" and only  the number 50 recruit in the nation.  He is a bit thick in the body but he is very young.  Not only is he the best shooter coming out of high school for UCLA since MR, he really reminds me of MR.  He is a fierce competitor. 

As you can see in this mix tape he is not just a three point specialist.  He has touch and can shoot from everywhere.  This tape shows him driving a lot.

I realize this year has just started but I am very excited for next year.  Oh and according to CBH UCLA is not done yet

On what he expects for the rest of recruiting:
"We may still sign another here early. ... I expect to sign four."

Come to UCLA those who want to learn and win.  Go Bruins.