UCLA signs three elite basketball prospects, giving it fifth-best class in nation
Mick Cronin has long talked about having multiple NBA draft lottery picks on the same team.
He could be getting close.
UCLA signed three top prospects Wednesday, including two of the top 18 players in the nation, according 247Sports.com’s composite rankings. The website ranked Amari Bailey, a combo guard from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High, as the second-best prospect nationally, while listing Adem Bona, a 6-foot-9 center from Napa’s Prolific Prep, as the 18th-best player in the nation.
Cronin called Bailey the best player he had ever recruited and the top high school player in the nation.
“He is an unbelievable competitor with tremendous skill,” Cronin told The Times. “It’s so rare to see a guy who is as explosive as he is but shoots it as well as he shoots it. He’s just a special player. He’s as good as there is.”
Bona will provide a blend of skills that Cronin said make him pound for pound the best high school big man in the country.
“He’s the most explosive athlete and highest motor guy in high school basketball; combine that with his energy and athleticism and he just immediately impacts the game because he’s so athletic and so strong and so explosive,” Cronin said. “When he dunks the ball, sometimes you think there’s no way the rim’s not coming off. There’s times he blocks shots that land at the top of the gym.”
The Bruins also signed Dylan Andrews, a point guard from Chandler (Ariz.) Compass Prep who is ranked No. 42 nationally by 247 Sports after having started his high school career at Los Angeles Windward.
“He’s a 6-2 point guard with size and reminds you of the guys like Darren Collison and Jordan Farmar,” Cronin said. “Some argue he’s the best point guard in the country.”
No. 2 UCLA opens the 2021-22 season on Tuesday against Cal State Bakersfield and could continue the March magic from last season’s NCAA tournament run.
UCLA continues to pursue Mark Mitchell, a small forward from Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Christian Academy who is expected to give a nonbinding verbal commitment next month and sign in the spring. Mitchell is reportedly considering the Bruins in addition to Duke and Missouri.
As it currently stands, UCLA’s class is ranked No. 5 in the nation by 247Sports despite consisting of only three players, leaving room for it to climb should the team snag Mitchell.
“It’s a great start to our recruiting class,” Cronin said. “We know we’re going to need one or two or three more guys depending on who goes to the NBA, but all of these guys are elite recruits in their own way.
“Obviously these guys are tremendously talented but for me, the most important thing is they’re all high-character winners. These guys have been recruited by me and my staff under the guise of, you’re coming here to win. The expectation here is that we live up to the tradition of our program and these guys all embrace that. That’s what I love most about them, they’re all tremendous guys.”
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