UCLA New Favorite Out West

        The Bruins haven't been this busy on the recruiting trail since 2008 when coach Ben Howland signed the likes of Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, J'Mison Morgan and Drew Gordon, the top-ranked class in the country that year. Let's just say it was an underachieving bunch as the two bigs in Morgan and Gordon both finished their careers elsewhere, Holiday and Lee left school early for the NBA and Jerime Anderson had career averages of 5.4 points and 2.8 assists when all was said and done.

        Needless to say, this year's class has higher aspirations; it's highlighted by Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, all top-25 prospects at both the college and pro ranks. Rounding out the class is four-star wing, Jordan Adams, a bit more of a project, but a future pro nonetheless. Its core group of three- Muhammad, Anderson and Parker, that single-handedly elevates UCLA from middle-of-the-pack in the Pac-12 conference to the best team, edging out Arizona and Washington too, even if the Huskies had their starting guards remain in school.

        A brief scouting report of each player can be found below that is only comforting to Ben Howland. The pieces all fit together, a dominating scoring guard combines with a long, play-making wing and a load of low-post presence joins an already solid frontcourt.

        Shabazz Muhammad is a left-handed wing that could legitimately lead the conference in scoring as a freshman for the first time since Shareef Abdur-Rahim did it in 1995-96. In the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit featuring the best college prospects in the world, all Muhammad did was set a new scoring record with 35 points in the game. His perimeter shooting is a bit streaky, but his ability to slash into the lane is unmatched.

        Dishing the ball to Muhammad is 6'8" point-forward Kyle Anderson, a smooth, skilled player with top-end court vision and decision-making. His mid-range jumper will be his biggest offensive weapon next year which should open up the driving lanes for Muhammad and keep defenders from doubling-down on the post.

        Earning minutes at power forward and center is the hulking 6'9", 270-pound Tony Parker. Like his size suggests, he carves out space in the post to operate with a soft hook shot over either shoulder and can even knock down a mid-range jumper if he steps away from the rim. Parker's two biggest weaknesses will be 1) keeping his weight and conditioning under control and 2) stealing playing time away from a similar-type player in Josh Smith along with the Wear twins in the frontcourt.

By President - Corey Ruff - 4-25-12