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Bruin Hoops Bites: Kevin Love, Recruiting & More

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The Kevin Love trade to Cleveland appears to be close, tops recruits visit campus and brackets announce for the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like Kevin Love will be a member of the latest NBA Big Three. This report says that the Kevin Love to Cleveland trade is almost complete. Love will join All-World LeBron James and former Rookie of the Year point guard, Kyrie Irving, on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland sends top overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, to the Minnesota Timberwolves, last year's top overall pick, Anthony Bennett, to the Philadelphia 76'ers, and Minnesota receives Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia. The deal can't be announced until August 23rd because league rules prohibit a rookie from being traded until 30 days after his contract is signed. Other draft picks will likely change hands as well.

How good will Cleveland be next year? I would rank them 1A, the Chicago Bulls 1B with Pau Gasol, the Oklahoma City Thunder 3 and the San Antonio Spurs 4. The other two starters will likely be center Anderson Varejao and shooting guard Dion Waiters.  Historically speaking -- in the "Big Three"  era -- this is below the 2007-08 Boston Celtics of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who had a supporting cast that included Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins and the 2010-14 Miami Heat who had an equivalent supporting cast but with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in addition to James. In the post-CBA era, the Cavaliers will be hard to beat.

There are a few other former Bruins affected by the trade:  Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Minnesota was already historically terrible -- now they'll be terrible minus Kevin Love.  Andrew Wiggins is a three, but could be a two on certain teams. Does he eat into Zach LaVine's minutes? LaVine will likely play both one and two, but he could lose wing minutes to Wiggins -- not to mention the media attention.

Back on the UCLA campus, the Bruins hosted three visitors yesterday: Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram and Thon Maker.  "Why do I call out three unofficial recruiting visits?" you ask. Because Jaylen Brown might just be the most important Bruin Hoops recruit since Kevin Love.  With all due respect to Jrue Holiday, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, Brown might be the best of them all and ready to play college ball from day one. I wrote about him here, and, if you check 247Sports Crystal Ball (which is BS so you have to seek out the specific analyst), you will notice that he moved from a Kentucky lean to even money UCLA/Kentucky, and the three most important analysts, Jerry Meyer, Drew Messmer and Jeff Brozello are predicting UCLA.

If you are going to judge Alford's 2015 recruiting on one player, judge it on Brown. I'm going to post more on Alford's apparent national strategy. Nevertheless, he chose this path (as opposed to regional-oriented strategy) and he or his proxies put the word out on their targets. So, it would be a fair judgment.

I watched Brown play in the third place game of the Adidas Nations tournament on Monday. On an all-star team that included Chase Jeter, Justin Simon, Bennie Boatwright and Cameron Walker, all UCLA targets, Brown was, by far, the best player on the court. Why am I so impressed over an AAU game? Brown rebounds and plays defense, and while the other stars still have kid's bodies, Brown is already a man -- athletic and strong. He was very thoughtful and well-spoken in his post-game interview -- it made me think, "this is our type of guy," but alas, he's a sure one-and-done.

Now that Chase Jeter announced for Duke, the dominoes will start to fall with respect to the landing spots for bigs. Here is Scout's list of our recruits, and here is Scout's national ranking.  Notice that eleven of the the top 20 are centers or power forwards. I called Stephen Zimmerman for UCLA, but, as I pointed out last time, he's had a twisting and turning recruitment/PR tour and further, he now plays his AAU ball for the Oakland Soldiers, a Nike outfit and pipeline for Arizona. I made the point that Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona and Duke can't get all the bigs, so if not Zimmerman, then possibly Comanche. That said, my worst fear would be that Zimmerman and Raab to go to Arizona to join Simon (not that impressed with him Monday night), Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith to form one of the best Pac-12 classes, on paper, in the post-Wooden era.

A class of Brown, Ali, Holiday and a top 20 big would be a national top five class. Is that good enough? Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and Duke pull a top five class almost every year, so no, it might not be. Top five classes on paper don't guarantee championships -- ask Howland. Further, if I'm modeling UCLA after any other team, it would be Flordia or Connecticut (ignoring the recent scandal) -- and we have the far superior backyard! These two teams won the most championships recently, and its been with coaching, hidden gems and a healthy dose of three/four year players. The odds do say you'd better bring in the star power under the current rules, but how to do that is where the debate is.

Here's the other news:

--The brackets for the Battle 4 Atlantis were just announced:  we play Oklahoma in the first round in the same bracket with UNC-Butler. ESPN has UNC sixth in their early rankings. All teams play three games, so win or lose, Florida and Wisconsin may be on our plate. 

--The NBA is now considering drafting players out of high school and paying them to play in the D-league. I'm all for it -- just extend two-and-done into three-and-done. Funny how they don't see themselves a source of the problems. I won't hold my breath.

--The Oregon Ducks continue their downward spiral. Three-star power forward Ray Kasongo was denied admission, and four star point shooting guard Jaquan Lyle has yet to be admitted. The Ducks already lost most of their backcourt in their recent rape scandal.