After seasons of mediocre records, overblown exposes’, and boring, unwatchable play, the UCLA Bruins are now set to return to the top echelon of college basketball.
The announcement today that massive (6’9″, 270 lb) teenage center Tony Parker has committed to the Bruins rounds out one of the great recruiting classes of the past decade (or longer). By adding the number 27-rated player in the nation to a class that already includes numbers one and three in Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, respectively, plus Jordan Adams, rated at number 62, Ben Howland has his work cut out for him in molding this group, along with the best returners from last year’s team, into a cohesive, unselfish unit, in only a few short months.
It has to be done quickly, for two very obvious reasons. The most obvious is of course that one, two, three, or perhaps all four may be in Westwood for only a single season, given the realities of 21st century sports and the millions of dollars the NBA dangles in the faces of 19-year-olds. Second, next season will feature the opening of the “new” Pauley Pavilion, and brand new prices for seat licenses and seats.
After a vagabond year of playing games in the decrepit Sports Arena, the Honda Ponda, and even in far-off Ontario, Bruin faithful have been required to open their already worn pockets to pay new premium prices to view games, and that pain can only be reduced by seeing exciting, winning games on the court.
Howland has weathered a few storms since his early glory days of final fours, but if the Bruins fail to get at least that far next season, and then lose the heart of the team in one-and-out style to the NBA, the faithful, now penniless alumni, will be calling for his head.