Steve Alford again will have two future UCLA recruits in the McDonald's All American game. Once again it is a point guard and a forward. However, unlike Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf, next year's McDs Freshmen will play on different teams with Jaylen Hands playing for the West and Kris Wilkes for the East.
The differences don't end there. Unlike Ball, Jaylen Hands is a traditional point guard at 6' tall who loves to drive and dish. As ESPN states:
Hands is a rangy point guard prospect with long arms and big hands. He is a dynamic passer (left-and-right handed passes) in the open court and his vision is uncanny. He has a good burst off the dribble to get by his defender and he can finish in the paint
Hands is a good for UCLA as it will be the first time since 2004-5 and 2005-6 seasons that UCLA recruited "true" point guards in back-to-back years. Of course, unlike 2005-6, there is no chance that Lonzo Ball stays around for another year to play with Hands like Jordan Farmar did with Darren Collison.
(And before the quibbles start, guys like Russell Westbrook, Lazeric Jones, and Aaron Holiday were not point guards coming into college but rather combo guards. I am saying there is no doubt that Hands, like Ball, will be playing the point next year.)
The other recruit is the star of the class and more unique. Kris Wilkes is something Steve Alford has never recruited in his time at UCLA and something of a dying breed position wise, a true "small forward." As Scout wrote in a story not behind a firewall:
Wilkes, who is a very high upside 6-foot-8 wing, always mentioned his comfort with the UCLA system and how he will be used in the future. The Bruins did a tremendous job of selling Wilkes on his future with the school as a wing, and with how he would improve within their system.
"I watched a lot of tape and did a lot of research into the roster, and I saw all the centers and power forwards they had on their roster so I knew I'd be playing my position," said Wilkes on what sold him about UCLA. "I was just very confident that I would develop there, and that I could reach my potential in their system."
So far UCLA has mostly played three guards under Alford (caveat being Howland recruit Jordan Adams who was arguably a small forward). Thus, no more of Norman Powell and Isaac Hamilton playing small forward. Nor even having your superstar point guard have to play three on defense like Ball does this year.
That's a great job by Steve Alford. I want to be greedy and say I hope these two McDs All Americans are as good as this year's turned out to be, but I will just say I am looking forward to another talented team next year.