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Clash of the Classes

By Chris Nguyen

March 1, 2013 12:19 a.m.

UCLA and Arizona waged numerous recruiting battles in the offseason to put together two of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Scout and Rivals both had UCLA at No. 2 and Arizona at No. 3, while ESPN had UCLA at No. 1 and Arizona at No. 3. Both programs’ seasons were contingent on the immediate impacts these freshmen could have. With multiple freshmen receiving starting roles on both squads, inconsistency has plagued both teams, but along with that came flashes of brilliance and potential. However, the Wildcats find themselves ranked at No. 11 while the Bruins are hardly a blip on the national radar. But the game is played on the court, not on paper. In their first matchup of the season, UCLA beat Arizona 84-73. Coach Ben Howland has confidence in his freshmen, starting three of them and beginning to trust the fourth with more minutes. After Wednesday’s game against Arizona State, in which the freshmen combined for 66 of UCLA’s 79 points, Howland said, “I think the media got it right, they are the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.”

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Jordan Adams (Scout: 74, Rivals: 62, ESPN: 41)

Jordan Adams was the lowest-ranked player in the UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class according to all three major rating organizations. Known as a pure shooter with great range, Adams was viewed as a spot up shooter, which the Bruins hadn’t seen since Michael Roll graduated. Like Parker, Adams is originally from Georgia, but played for Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, arguably the most prestigious high school basketball program in the country with alumni such as Carmelo Anthony and Rajon Rondo.

While Adams may not have been the most heralded recruit in the class, he was the first to make an impact on the court. In his first game as a Bruin, Adams came off the bench against Indiana State and posted a team-high 21 points. He would then go on to post three more consecutive 20-plus point performances and eventually found himself a role as a starter. His production has since leveled off as he now averages 15.1 points per game, but he is coming off a 20-point game against USC.

 

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Kyle Anderson (Scout: 4, Rivals: 3, ESPN: 5)

Measuring 6-foot-9 with the court vision and passing ability of a point guard, Kyle Anderson was one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire nation. Anderson attended St. Anthony High School in New Jersey, where he did not lose a single game in his last two seasons there. A proven winner with a unique skill set, Anderson was a consensus top-five prospect in the nation, with offers from across the country.
Anderson was shifted from his high school position of a point guard to be small forward for the Bruins. The adjustment to playing off rather than on the ball led to a seemingly slow start for Anderson. However, as he began having the ball in his hands and calling plays himself, he became an integral part of the offense. He averages nearly a double-double with 10 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game – the most on the team – and is the team’s second-leading assist man.

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Shabazz Muhammad (Scout: 2, Rivals: 1, ESPN: 2)

Shabazz Muhammad was touted as the best player in the nation with a scoring arsenal that could propel UCLA to new heights. With an unrelenting ferocity, Muhammad dominated high school basketball and was expected to do the same at the college level. Muhammad’s talent was enough to render him a top pick in the very next NBA draft according to numerous draft experts.

Due to NCAA eligibility issues, Muhammad was forced to sit out the first three games of the season, with chants of “Free Shabazz” echoing through Pauley Pavilion. When he was finally cleared by the NCAA, Muhammad’s conditioning had regressed after having to sit out and suffering from various injuries. However, once he found his comfort zone in the college game, he has been one of the most dominant players in the Pac-12 Conference, averaging 18.2 points per game.

 

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Tony Parker (Scout: 20, Rivals: 27, ESPN: 26)

In high school, Tony Parker was one of the most highly-rated big men in the country. Hailing from Georgia and playing for arguably one of the most dominant high school programs in the nation, Miller Grove, Parker was sought after by some of the biggest programs in the country such as UCLA, Duke and Ohio State. Known for his unique combination of both size and skill, Parker was believed to make a contribution right away for the Bruins and fill a need in the post. Parker’s decision ceremony received national media attention as he brought up on stage numerous family members, friends and coaches before finally making his decision to attend UCLA.

Much like his ceremony, his career as a Bruin was slow to take off. He is the only player out of the 2012 recruiting class yet to start a game. With the departure of center Josh Smith, many thought Parker would need to step up and fill the void, but he still struggled to receive major minutes. However, Parker is coming off his most productive performance in Pac-12 play against USC, in which he saw 17 minutes. During the away game, Redshirt junior forward Travis Wear, the Bruins’ best post player, was out with a foot injury and Parker stepped up with eight points and three rebounds.

 

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Brandon Ashley (Scout: 10, Rivals: 23, ESPN: 16)

Brandon Ashley was another component of Arizona’s front court-loaded freshman class. He played his high school basketball at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. Known for his overall versatility and refined skills for a big man, Ashley was highly sought after by numerous schools – including UCLA.

With a solid frame and good hands, Ashley capitalized on the opportunity to contribute immediately and did just that, starting 21 of 26 games this season. Ashley scores 7.7 points per game but has great shot selection, scoring 52.9 percent of his field goals. Ashley nearly posted a double-double against the Bruins in their first matchup, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in 24 minutes.

 

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Grant Jerrett (Scout: 9, Rivals: 15, ESPN: 9)

Grant Jerrett is another big man making an immediate impact for the Wildcats. With great fundamentals, hands and footwork, Jerrett dominated during his prep career at La Verne Lutheran High School, averaging 22.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Known to be a hybrid post player, Jerrett possesses the skill set to finish around the rim and shoot threes consistently.

Jerrett is the second man off the bench for Arizona, playing in all but one game and averaging 18 minutes per game. He averages 5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Jerrett struggled offensively against UCLA, going just 2-7 from the field for five points. However, he was a menace on the glass, grabbing 10 rebounds, four of which were offensive.

 

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Kaleb Tarczewski (Scout: 6, Rivals: 9, ESPN: 4)

The imposing, 7-foot Kaleb Tarczewski was one of the highest-rated big men in the entire recruiting class. While raw in skill, Tarczewski was endowed with a considerable amount of athleticism for his size: Throughout his high school career, he demonstrated his ability to get up and down the court, block and alter shots, and grab rebounds.

Tarczewski has made an immediate impact for the Arizona Wildcats, starting all 28 of their games thus far and playing for just over half of a game on average. He hauls in a team-leading 5.6 rebounds per game to go with his 6.5 scoring average. Tarczewski was all but shut down against UCLA, scoring zero points and grabbing only one rebound in fifteen minutes of play.

 

 

web.sp.2.28.insert.gabe_york[Gabe York (Scout: 80, Rivals: 46, ESPN: 65)

At Orange Lutheran High School, Gabe York was known as a prolific scorer with unlimited range and athleticism. Despite being 6-foot-2-inches, he can fly toward the rim for spectacular dunks. In his senior year of high school, York averaged 24.9 points per game and became the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Playing behind multiple upperclassmen in a veteran backcourt, York has yet to make an immediate impact for Arizona. He has seen action in 14 games off the bench thus far.

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