Pac-10 will remain strong thanks to big-name recruits
Posted: Wednesday January 17, 2007 12:05PM; Updated: Saturday January 20, 2007 12:30AM
Power foward Kevin Love, one of the nation's top recruits, will play for UCLA next season.
Michael J. LeBrecht/SI
Seth Davis will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his Hoop Thoughts column.
Many people have praised USC coach Tim Floyd for convincing O.J. Mayo, the 6-foot-5 phenom from Huntington, W.Va., to sign with the Trojans in November. The truth is, Mayo never needed any persuading. "I wouldn't have called him given who else was recruiting him, but he called me," Floyd says. "I only talked to him about four or five times during the whole process. He gave us a lot of credibility, and that has helped us get other guys as well."
Indeed, just weeks after receiving Mayo's letter of intent, Floyd got an oral commitment from Brandon Jennings of Compton, Calif., who is widely considered to be the best point guard, if not the best player, in the Class of '08. Mayo and Jennings are just two of several elite schoolboys headed for the Pac-10, which should ensure the league will remain one of the best in America for years to come. To wit:
Next season UCLA will bring in arguably the best player in the Class of '07, 6-9 power forward Kevin Love of Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. The Bruins also didn't have to go further than their own backyard to lock up their backcourt of the future from the current junior class: Jerime Anderson, a 6-1 point guard from Anaheim, and Malcolm Lee, a 6-4 combo guard from Riverside, have both given Ben Howland their verbal commitments.
Arizona further cemented its reputation as Point Guard U by signing 6-3 Jerryd Bayless from Phoenix. He'll be joined in Tucson next season by 6-6 Jamelle Horne of San Diego, a raw, but athletic, swingman.
Herb Sendek landed Arizona State's most significant recruit in years when the best player in California, 6-5 guard James Harden from Artesia High School in Lakewood, signed with the Sun Devils. Dave Telep, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, believes Harden could jump-start Arizona State's recruiting in much the same way Bronx native Julius Hodge did for Sendek at NC State. "Harden can open up some pipelines," Telep says. "He's an exciting player and he's very well-known out West."
Telep calls Washington signee Justin Holiday, a 6-6 guard from Hollywood, Calif., the best sleeper amongst the Pac-10's recruits. As a bonus, Holiday's younger brother, Jrue, is an uncommitted 6-3 guard rated by most scouting services as one of the top 20 players in the Class of '08.
Coaches up and down the Pac-10 are benefiting from this surge of talent west of the Rockies. Floyd, for one, says the pool of prospects is much deeper than he imagined when he was hired by USC two years ago. "The players out here are really skilled, and the coaching is terrific," Floyd says. "The difference now is, more of these players are staying home."