The UCLA Bruins basketball program received a lot of negative publicity with the Sports Illustrated article bringing to light some the internal issues that has led to the team’s struggles the past couple of years. A loaded recruiting class that includes McDonald’s All-American Kyle Anderson is ready to return the Bruin program back to prominence.
When the SI story was published, there were questions as to whether it might effect UCLA’s recruiting. Anderson, a 6-8 point forward-type player from St. Anthony High School in New Jersey and a consensus top-ten recruit in the 2012 class, had already committed to the Bruins and didn’t waver on his decision after reading the article.
“People make mistakes and things like that go on at colleges campuses a lot,” Anderson said of the SI story at the MMA media day. “It’s all about getting better. Off-the-court, it’s about making on better decisions, and I’m sure the team is growing into making better decisions.”
Even though the article pretty much slammed Ben Howland, Anderson’s faith remains strong in the UCLA head coach. “Somebody I look up to, Brandin Knight (the Brandin Knight who played for Howland at Pitt, not Kentucky’s recent point guard Brandon Knight), told me Coach Howland took very good care of him. So I trust Coach Howland and we have a great relationship.”
Besides his relationship with Howland, there were several factors in Anderson’s decision to sign with UCLA. Unlike many college recruits, staying close to home was not a requirement as Anderson will move across the country. “L.A. I wanted to leave and be far from home.” Anderson added, “Tradition, what a great job Coach Wooden did in the 60′s. We have so many banners and Pauley Pavilion has so much history.”
Next season, Anderson is hoping that he can help write another chapter in UCLA’s rich history. But he won’t have to do it alone. Anderson is part of one of the top recruiting classes in the country which includes fellow McDonald’s All-Americans Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker who made late commitments to the Bruins, and top 50 small forward Jordan Adams. Add in North Carolina transfer point guard Larry Drew and the return of four of their top five scorers, and Anderson likes the Bruins chances to make some serious noise next season.
“I actually think we have all the pieces this year,” Anderson said confidently. “It’s going to be tough but with all the returning players, Jordan Adams and myself, and the sophomores, the seniors, the juniors; I think we got what it takes.”
We interviewed Anderson prior to Muhammad’s commitment to the Bruins, but when we asked the lengthy 6-8 forward what his prediction for the Bruins would be if Muhammad chose UCLA, his response was simple, “National Championship.” That sort of statement actually isn’t all that crazy as the Bruins should be a top ten preseason team which will help further eliminate the program’s black eye.
(This was a Paul M. Banks/David Kay collaboration.)
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.