Only three weeks into the college basketball recruiting season and already UCLA Coach Jim Harrick is a happy man.
For Harrick and his staff, good news arrived July 1--the first day that college basketball coaches could begin talking to seniors-to-be--when 6-foot-5 swingman Toby Bailey of Loyola High made an unwritten commitment to UCLA.
Bailey averaged about 25 points and 14 rebounds as a junior. He has improved his perimeter skills this summer and was selected one of the top 20 players at the prestigious Nike camp in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Bailey, who has a 3.0 grade-point average, has already passed the Scholastic Aptitude Test and will be eligible as a freshman.
"I've always wanted to go to UCLA, and I think everyone knew that," said Bailey, whose father, John, graduated from UCLA in 1972.
"I'm looking forward to playing with Charles and Ed (O'Bannon). Also, by committing early, it may help convince other players in my class to commit to UCLA, too."
As recently as early April, Harrick and his staff had not signed any players for the 1993-94 season. Then the Bruins signed 6-1 point guard Cameron Dollar of Frederick, Md., adding depth to the backcourt, and were able to beat out Kentucky for the services of Charles O'Bannon, Lakewood Artesia's 6-6 All-American forward and brother of UCLA forward Ed O'Bannon.
UCLA, with five scholarships to give for the 1994-95 season, is hoping to put together its most talented recruiting class in years. Now that Bailey has committed, the Bruins are recruiting a group that includes 6-6 guard Rick Price, who recently announced his transfer from Long Beach St. Anthony to Gardena Serra; 6-5 point guard Jelani Gardner of Bellflower St. John Bosco; 6-4 guard Trajan Langdon of Anchorage, Alaska; 6-11 center Omm'A Givens of Aberdeen, Wash.; 6-9 forward J.R. Henderson of Bakersfield; 6-9 forward Jerod Ward of Clinton, Miss.; 6-5 guard Felipe Lopez of New York; 6-7 forward Mark Madsen of Danville, Calif., and 6-5 forward Kris Johnson of Crenshaw High.
Madsen and Johnson, who is the son of former UCLA All-American and current Bruin radio broadcaster Marques Johnson, have impressed college coaches and scouts this week with their play at the Slam-N-Jam National Invitational Tournament, which concludes tonight at Cal State Long Beach.
The Bruins are considered front-runners for Givens, the top center prospect on the West Coast; Henderson, who has terrific all-around skills but whose intensity level has been questioned, and Gardner, a gifted point guard with a scorer's mentality. All three are being recruited nationally. If even two of the three eventually sign with UCLA, the Bruins will probably have the makings of a class comparable to any in the country.
Actually, UCLA's recruiting for the 1993-94 season may not be finished. If the NCAA rules that the Wake Forest letter of intent signed by 6-9 forward Makhtar Ndiaye of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., is invalid due to recruiting violations, UCLA will likely be one of the schools that Ndiaye, a native of Senegal, Africa, will visit.
A decision by the NCAA on Ndiaye's status should come any day.
USC's next basketball recruiting class will be guard-oriented. Now that Stais Boseman, Jaha Wilson and Claude Green have passed their college entrance examinations, Trojan Coach George Raveling and his staff would like to sign three players for the 1994-95 season. Among the players Raveling is hoping to recruit is Jason Pickett, a 6-1 guard from Wilmington Banning. Pickett scored 40 points against Dorsey in a summer tournament game last week. His speed and style are reminiscent of former UCLA player Rod Foster.
More hoops: Stanford's recruiting got a much-needed boost when 7-foot center Tim Young of Santa Cruz, the consensus choice as best big man in California, gave the Cardinal an unwritten commitment. . . . Add Duke to the list of schools recruiting 6-6 guard Rick Price of Gardena Serra. Blue Devil Coach Mike Krzyzewski talked to Price on the phone for more than an hour Tuesday night. Price got word last week that he had passed the SAT with a score of 850. . . . Omm'A Givens, the 6-11 center from Aberdeen, Wash., says he'll take recruiting trips to UCLA, Kentucky, Michigan and probably Seton Hall. If he decides on a fifth visit, it is expected to be Arizona, Indiana or Kansas. Givens, who has relatives in San Diego, describes himself as a "West Coast, laid-back type of guy." He toured UCLA on his own in April when in he was in town for a basketball camp. Givens also praised Arizona Coach Lute Olson: "He has a great history of sending big men to the NBA." If the Wildcats are able to sign Givens, he could help offset the expected loss of 6-9 sophomore center Etdrick Bohannon, who reportedly is set to transfer to Tennessee.
California's incoming football recruiting class, generally considered the best or second-best in the Pacific 10 Conference, was dealt a blow when wide receiver Latario Rachal (5-10, 170) failed to accumulate enough credits to earn an associate of arts degree from El Camino College in Torrance. Rachal, from Carson High, was being counted on as a possible replacement for All-American wide receiver Sean Dawkins, who left school a year early and was a first-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts. Rachal is expected to get his degree at El Camino after the fall semester and may still wind up at Cal. But he can again be recruited by other colleges. . . . Add academic casualties: Tyron Gunn (6-4, 230), a linebacker-defensive line prospect from Washington High who had hoped to attend UCLA, also was a non-qualifier after falling short of the minimum score required on his college entrance test. Reportedly, Gunn will attend Kansas and sit out his freshman season as part of the requirements of Proposition 48. . . . The status of former Pasadena High linebacker Treyvonne Towns (6-2, 200), who signed a letter of intent with USC, remains uncertain. Towns is awaiting results of his last attempt at achieving the minimum score of 700 required on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Best prospect at UCLA's recent weeklong football camp was Woodland Hills Taft wide receiver Andre DeSaussure (6-2, 180), one of the top high school sprinters in the country. DeSaussure won City Section titles last season in the 100 (wind-aided 10.58), 200 (wind-aided 20.93) and 400 meters (47.75), and finished second in the 400 (47.11) at the state meet.
All-star football update: Greg Ainsworth (6-0, 180), an option quarterback from Duarte High, sparked the West to a 27-14 victory over the East in the Hall of Fame game Friday night at Citrus College in Glendora. Ainsworth rushed 12 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard scoring run, to earn most valuable player honors for his team. Poor grades kept Ainsworth from signing with a Division I-A college in February. He will attend Long Beach City College in the fall.
Ainsworth shared West quarterback duties with Pasadena Muir's Andy Colbert (5-8, 160), who signed with UCLA as a defensive back. Colbert displayed quick feet on several punt returns. He may end up as a wide receiver-kick returner at UCLA. A standout for the East was running back Lamont Adams (5-10, 170) of La Puente Nogales, who rushed 11 times for 73 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown run. Adams, who has excellent speed, said he thought about attending USC as a walk-on, but will enroll instead at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.