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UCLA Basketball: Four-Star Recruit Jaylen Clark Commits to the Bruins

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In other news, great defense leads to individual weekly awards.

NCAA Basketball: California at UCLA
Jaime Jaquez was recognized by the PAC 12 as Freshman of the week.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Basketball is hot. UCLA is just a game and a half out of first place in the Pac-12.

High school senior Jaylen Clark was so impressed with what he saw at Pauley last week that he verbally committed to the UCLA Bruins today. Additionally, two UCLA men’s basketball players won weekly awards. Wow!

First off, Jaylen Clark of Compton Magic and Rancho Cucamonga’s Etiwanda High School verbally committed to UCLA. This review from Josh Gerson of 247Sportsview makes Clark sure sound like a Cronin-type player:

Clark had a strong spring and summer playing for the Compton Magic and has followed it up with an impressive senior season at Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Etiwanda. Clark is known for his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor.

“Clark has long been one of the defenders on the west in 2020,” 247Sports analyst Josh Gershon said. “He has a strong, chiseled frame with long arms, wide shoulders and is a plus athlete laterally and vertically. He consistently plays hard which adds to his value, especially on defense. He is best in transition offensively, although he has continued to evolve his ball skills and shooting throughout his high school career.”

Clark ranks No. 104 on the 247Sports Composite Rankings, but is regarded as the No. 72 overall prospect and the No. 12 shooting guard in the Top247. Clark’s tough, physical style of play fits with the type of players that Cronin has excelled with.

That was not all the good news today. Jaime Jaquez Jr. won the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award.

UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. has secured Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors, as announced on Monday by the Pac-12 Conference office.

Jaquez Jr. averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the Bruins’ two victories at home last week. He scored 13 points and totaled seven rebounds in the team’s win over No. 20 Colorado last Thursday night. Jaquez Jr. followed that performance with 18 points, four rebounds and four steals in a victory against Utah on Sunday.

Jaquez is joined by UCLA/Muscle Milk Student Athlete of the Week Chris Smith.

Junior guard Chris Smith of the UCLA men’s basketball team has been selected the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week for Jan. 27-Feb. 2.

Smith averaged 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in the Bruins’ two wins at home last week. Smith scored a career-high 30 points (8-for-16 FGs) and totaled nine rebounds in the team’s 72-68 win over No. 20 Colorado. Three days later, he tallied six points and made 3 of 5 shots in UCLA’s 73-57 victory over Utah. Smith is currently leading the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and ranks second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg).

This is Smith’s first UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week award of the season and of his career.

Ben Bolch writes for the LA Times about how things are looking up for UCLA as team:

UCLA’s defense has stiffened considerably in recent weeks, allowing an average just 63.8 points over its last five games. The telltale defensive statistic has been the Bruins’ ability to defend the three-point line; they’re allowing opponents to shoot only 30.5% in the games UCLA has won compared to 44.4% in its losses.

Coincidentally, Arizona State [UCLA’s next opponent] has made exactly 30.5% of its three-pointers this season, worst in the Pac-12.

More than the numbers are starting to align for the Bruins given how far they’ve come the last few weeks, particularly on defense.

I don’t expect us to sweep the Arizona trip, but UCLA is playing great defense and better offense right now. More importantly, they are improving and local recruits are noticing.

Go Bruins!