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What does Tony Parker’s commitment mean for UCLA?

Apr 23, 2012, 8:30 PM EDT

Ben Howland

It took 57 minutes for Tony Parker to get around to announcing it, but the Miller Grove HS (GA) big man committed to UCLA on Monday afternoon at a press conference.

That gives Ben Howland arguably the best class in the country. Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad are two of the top three recruits in the country. Parker is top 30. Jordan Adams is top 75. That’s quite a bit of talent to bring into a program.

But does it guarantee the Bruins success?

Frankly, no. The issue with UCLA’s roster isn’t the talent, because there is an abundance of that. The issue is the makeup of the roster:

- Who is going to be UCLA’s point guard? Kyle Anderson is the easy answer, and given his skill set, he should be able to facilitate the Bruin’s offense. He’s an excellent passer and playmaker that can create his own shot off the dribble. But he’s also slow-footed and 6-foot-8. I know the argument: so was Magic Johnson. But Anderson is no Magic. Calling him Jalen Rose may even be a stretch. Can he bring the ball up the floor if he’s being hawked by a smaller, quicker guard?

More importantly, if he is running the point for the Bruins, who is he going to defend? Will Howland put him on the three defensively and slide Tyler Lamb and Shabazz Muhammad onto the other team’s back court? Will UCLA go zone? Or will Kyle Anderson’s physical tools force Howland into playing Larry Drew major minutes?

- How will Parker and Josh Smith share the floor? Both are big, both are strong and both are powerful low-post presences. In other words, they are the same player. What happened with UConn this season should give you concern about two unproven centers sharing the floor. Along those same lines, will Josh Smith’s aversion to exercise rub off on Parker, who is checking in at 270 lb himself?

- Will Howland have enough front court minutes to go around? In addition to Smith and Parker, both of the Wear twins and Anthony Stover will need minutes. Anderson, Muhammad and Adams can all be considered small forwards as well, meaning that you can legitimately say UCLA’s roster has eight front court players and two back court players. How will that work?

- Most importantly, however, is the question of whether or not Howland will be able to get all of that talent to be able to play together. He’s had talented recruiting classes before (see: 2009), and we all saw how that played out. The SI article from February should make you even more concerned about his ability to manage talent.

UCLA will be one of the most talented teams in the country heading into 2012-2013 and will likely be found somewhere near the top of most preseason top 25 lists. They probably deserve that consideration, but there is still plenty for this team to prove before you give them a free-pass to the Final Four.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. imforbigblue - Apr 24, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    UCLA paid big money for this class. looks like there going back to the old days where they bought all there players. should be fun watching them fall on there faces because they all will want to be the star (bazz) and will fight over the ball. they wont even win the pac-10 let alone win the title

  2. urfinished - Apr 24, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Well Las Vegas now considers them the favorite to win the title if that tells you anything.
    Seems shocking, but them are the facts.

    • noot - Apr 24, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      No they’re not. 25/1 isn’t the “favorite”.

  3. csuxrr - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    How can a Kentucky fan question having too many stars on a team?
    You all just won the National Title with a team of superstars.

  4. caseybojangles - Apr 24, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    i dont think the class is a problem at all with existing returning players.

    first thing’s first…shabazz will play major minutes at the SF position. his talent and scoring ability on a team that at times stuggled to score last year (in part to howland’s offense who needs to make clear adjustments to make the most of his talent) will be a welcome change. not controversial here.

    at the C, it all comes down to if josh smith is serious about getting in shape. his minutes were absolutely limited by him being out of shape and thus being lazy on D and just fouling instead of D-ing up. Foul problems limited his minutes most of the time. He only put in 17 mpg last year which was down from the year before so that leaves tons of minutes. clearly smith is no one and done candidate so having parker push him for major minutes can only be a good thing. smith will be on the team for another 2 seasons for sure. if parker pans out, he could be one and done and so you can start smith but parker will see major minutes…obviously adjust as necessary. this is no given either as parker needs to cut some weight too. stover is a non factor at only 8 mpg last year and being the only other C on the team behind a out of shape Smith playing only 17mpg. unless stover comes into the next season a monster via off season training, practice, and crazy hustle, he’s going to be on the team for another 2 years as well or transfer if his unhappy.

    anderson will start as a point forward player as his ball handling skills and court vision warrants it. he gives the team a lot of options on offense and the team gives him a lot of options as well. on defense, shabazz may need to step in and take on either the opposing team’s PG or SG. shabazz’s athleticism combined with his size will give opposing PGs problems. And I think that Shabazz is the kind of player that went to UCLA to improve his defense under howland who demands it. his offense is fine…its his D that people believes he needs to work on. anderson gets major minutes too.

    Lamb will likely start at the other G but Drew and Powell will rotate in during games as well.

    The Wear twins will still work the PF position most of the time but clearly the potention loser is one of these guys…so tough to tell them apart not only from a physical standpoint as they’re twins but their statlines are similar too! i certainly can see a scenario where smith and parker are on the floor at the same time and that squeezes the twins out but the twins are playing another 2 years as well so the risk is not there if their minutes go down.

    i know it sucks but with the possibility of having 1 and done players, you have to take advantage of that (expecially if they are that talented) even at the expense of your sophomores or juniors who have put in.

  5. caseybojangles - Apr 24, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    and yes, that does leave adams as the odd highly touted recruit out. everyone can’t be one and done and adams is probably the guy in the class that most likely is not and will stay on the team for a few years. he’ll share minutes at SF when shabazz needs a breather or in at SG giving the team another option. he’ll start in his sophmore campaign after shabazz heads off to the nba. or maybe i’m wrong and he starts at SG alongside anderson. he’s a tweener at 6’5″ and could D up on opposing G as well.

  6. imforbigblue - Apr 24, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    I didn’t mean you can’t win it all with superstars but I’m saying there coach isn’t good enough I think to get them all to play together. Look what he’s done so far with good players. Plus I think bazz will kill you guys this year I just think he’s to selfish and will want to show off for the nba for the one year he’s in college

  7. rv92673sc - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Come on Rob, no one said this team with their new additions is going to the final four. The press and we fans are saying it. Trust me Howland does not or has not stated such a thing. Sure, the tools are there. Yet no one in the UCLA basketball program mentioned anything about a “FREE PASS” to the Final Four or anywhere for that matter. Sure…their sites are for the path to the CHAMPIONSHIPS. Who’s isn’t.

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