NCAA Basketball Pac 12 Basketball

Tony Parker’s Commitment Bolsters a Loaded UCLA Class

The recruitment of Miller Grove H.S. (GA) prospect Tony Parker remained a mystery right up until his formal announcement on Monday afternoon.

The announcement itself was quite strange, as a press conference that was scheduled for 4 p.m. (EST) began with a number of speakers that ultimately delayed Parker’s decision until shortly after 5 p.m.

That decision, however: UCLA.

Parker chose the Bruins over Ohio State, Duke, and in-state Georgia on Monday, adding to loaded recruiting class that instantly raises expectations out west, yet also may increase the pressure on head coach Ben Howland.

With Parker in the fold, UCLA is now widely considered to be featuring the top incoming recruiting class in the country, at the moment.

The 6-foot-9 big man, currently ranked No. 26 in the ESPNU Top-100, joins a loaded group that includes Oak Hill Academy product Jordan Adams, as well two of the top five recruits in the nation in Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

Parker’s decision vaulted the Bruins to the No. 1 spot in ESPN’s class rankings, with Kentucky and fellow Pac 12 rival Arizona listed behind them.

After last week’s slew of NBA draft entries from Kentucky, many are speculating that the Wildcats should be able to add even more to a class that had previously been ranked in the top spot prior to Parker’s announcement. Mainly Anthony Bennett (No. 7), who Kentucky commit Nerlens Noel would love to have join him in Lexington.

However, yesterday was about UCLA, one of college basketball’s most storied programs, in relaying a vibe that might not only help the Bruins emerge from their recent struggles, but maybe even the Pac 12 as a whole.

After qualifying for three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 through 2008, the Bruins came up emptied handed in terms of a title during each run. Since then, UCLA has manged just one win within the Big Dance, including two seasons (2010 and 2012) in which the team missed the tournament all together.

Less than one month since Kentucky claimed a national championship with three freshmen in the starting lineup, Bruins’ fans turn their attention to the 2012-13 season with the hopes of similar success.

While UCLA will feature a squad likely-to-be ranked in the nation’s Top-25 heading into the season, it is important to point out that the Bruins were also nationally ranked to begin this past season before finishing the year at 19-14 overall and 11-7 in a weak Pac 12.

On-the-court disappointments, transfers, and off-the-court issues have surrounded the Bruins’ program over the past few years, but optimism is in the fore front for UCLA looking ahead to the 2012-13 college basketball season.