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WHEN A school has a five-star, five-player recruiting class, thoughts inevitably turn to the storied quintet led by Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. "The Fab Five really is the perfect nickname," says UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday. "But it's already been taken—by Michigan, right?"
Forgive Holiday, who was born in 1990 and was not even two years old when the Wolverines made it to the national championship game in the Fab Five's debut season. Holiday now headlines another vaunted first-year fivesome, which includes guards Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson, as well as frontliners Drew Gordon and J'Mison (Bobo) Morgan.
UCLA needed this talent infusion after losing three underclassmen to the NBA draft—center Kevin Love, guard Russell Westbrook and forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Bruins don't have a ready replacement at center for Love, but Holiday should do just fine filling in at shooting guard for Westbrook. Holiday, the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year (the same honor bestowed upon Love in 2007), may not be as explosive as Westbrook, but he is a better shooter and ball handler. "He does a little bit of everything well," says UCLA coach Ben Howland. And he can do it with either hand: The ambidextrous Holiday shoots with his right but feels more comfortable dribbling and dunking with his left. "It makes him very tough to defend," Lee says. "You can't force him any one way."
Lee has been trying to guard Holiday since the fifth grade, when Lee was playing AAU basketball for the Riverside Tar Heels and Holiday was with the Rancho Cucamonga Bulls. Holiday's point guard at the time was Anderson, who will back up Darren Collison this season while Lee backs up Josh Shipp. With Anderson's court vision and Lee's three-point-shooting prowess, the Bruins are as loaded on the perimeter as any team in the country.
The UCLA recruiting class was already ranked No. 1 when Morgan committed on May 23, the same day that Love announced he was hiring an agent for his move to the NBA. The 6'10" Morgan, who originally signed with LSU and was released from his scholarship after coach John Brady was fired in February, picked the Bruins in part because he saw that they needed him. "They were missing an enforcer," he says.
Morgan's mother, Bianca, called him Bozo when he was a baby, thinking the shock of hair atop his head made him look like a clown. His older brother, who could not pronounce Bozo, went with Bobo instead. For one member of this freshman class, at least, a nickname is firmly in place.