Freshman forward Wanaah Bail was ruled eligible to play this season after his waiver to the NCAA was approved on Tuesday. Bail transferred to UCLA on June 7 after initially committing to Texas Tech.
“We are grateful that this matter has come to a conclusion and are very happy for Wanaah,” coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “I know that Wanaah is excited to get on the floor with his teammates, and we’re all looking forward to him beginning his collegiate career at UCLA this season.”
Bail’s eligibility relieves some pressure on the Bruins’ front court, where redshirt senior forwards Travis Wear and David Wear and sophomore forward/center Tony Parker are the only other scholarship players on the roster.
“He just adds to our inside,” Alford said. “That’s where we got some concerns because we’re not real deep. We got the Wear twins, we got Tony.”
Besides just adding depth to the forward position, Bail brings a different style of play to UCLA’s front court. Whereas the Wear twins are effective scoring from the perimeter with jump shots, Bail, a 6-foot-9 lefty, was known in high school for his athleticism.
Bail scored 18.5 points and grabbed 12 rebounds per game during his senior season at Lamar Consolidated High School in Texas. He was labeled a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
Now in the third week of preseason practices, Bail has not yet taken part in the team’s drills.
“As far ahead as we are (after starting practice earlier than previous years), Wanaah’s that far behind because he’s not getting to do the things on the court,” Alford said. “Now Wanaah’s doing a great job of watching the offense, watching the defensive principles, but it’s like riding a stationary bike; it’s not the same as the conditioning on the court. Neither is going through the offense and defense against your defense, so we need him out there. We need to get him out there practicing.”
Before he gets back to practicing with his teammates, Bail must first continue to recover from surgery he underwent on June 28 to repair torn left knee cartilage.
On Sept. 30, Alford said Bail was three weeks away from being healthy, and four-to-five weeks away from being 100 percent. Barring a setback, that would place Bail about a week from healthiness and two or three more weeks until he is fully recovered. He has yet to be cleared to practice for UCLA.
Still awaiting a similar NCAA ruling is freshman guard Isaac Hamilton, who transferred from the University of Texas at El Paso and enrolled at UCLA on Sept. 26. Alford said he doesn’t expect the ruling to be imminent, given how recently the waiver was submitted.
Compiled by Kevin Bowman, Bruin Sports senior staff.