New Face, New Place: UCLA

According to ESPN, UCLA will be home to the #6 recruiting class in the nation for the 2016-17 NCAA basketball season. This class includes two 5-star players in the form of PG Lonzo Ball and PF T.J. Leaf and is rounded out by 4-star C Ike Anigbogu. Kobe Paras recently withdrew from UCLA after he failed to meet academic requirements. Fans of Bruins basketball are excited to see whether the incoming talent can mesh well with returnees to secure a berth to the Big Dance in March.

PG Lonzo Ball

The 6-6 point guard out of Chino Hills, California headlines the incoming freshman class. Lonzo Ball led the Chino Hills Huskies to a undefeated 35-0 record en route to being named the 2016 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year and the 2016 Naismith High School Player of the Year as the nation’s top boy’s high school basketball player. Ball AVERAGED a triple double during his senior year with 25.4 PPG, 12.9 APG, and 11.5 RPG. He was ranked the #4 overall player and #1 point guard in the class of 2016 by ESPN. Ball’s fantastic court vision has been praised by scouts, coaches, and players alike. For UCLA this upcoming year, Ball will look to distribute the rock to his teammates and facilitate the offense. This would allow Bryce Alford to play off-ball and focus on being less of a playmaker and more of a scorer. One thing is for certain. Ball can really ball.

PF TJ Leaf

T.J. Leaf can be compared to former UCLA great Kevin Love. Leaf, a 6-9 power forward out of El Cajon, California and Foothills Christian High School, was rated the #13 overall player and #3 PF in the class of 2016 by ESPN. He can score the ball from the perimeter and stretch defenses but he can also go down low into the post and work in the paint. He has an inside and outside game. T.J. averaged 28.4 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, 3.1 BPG, and 1.7 SPG during his senior year and played varsity basketball throughout his high school career. The versatility in Leaf’s offensive game gives coach Alford the ability to play small ball by putting Leaf at the C position. Hopefully T.J. Leaf doesn’t end up turning out like a certain other Leaf.

C Ike Anigbogu

Anigbogu, a 6-10 center out of Centennial High School in Corona, California, can provide rim protection for a UCLA basketball team that sorely needs defensive help. Ike can serve as an interior presence and defensive anchor. He demonstrated an ability to alter shots last year by averaging 2.3 BPG. Anigbogu was ranked the #60 overall recruit and #8 center in the class of 2016 by ESPN.

The future is looking bright for UCLA basketball. Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill, 4-star recruits in the class of 2017, have already committed to UCLA. Bruins basketball is back and I am certainly ready for the ride.

Korosh Bahrami

UCLA Class of 2020

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