Where does UCLA coach Ben Howland come off reeling in the most talented recruiting class of 2012? Since reaching their third straight Final Four in '08, the Bruins have won a total of just two NCAA tournament games, in large part because of Howland's inability to recruit and retain Southern California talent (SI, Feb. 29). That trend prompted Howland's eyebrow-arching hire of former Atlanta Celtics AAU coach Korey McCray as an assistant—UCLA needs a pipeline to Georgia to get players?—but Howland and McCray appear to be having the last laugh, snagging prime prospects from three states.
A small forward from Lawrenceville, Ga., with a nice shooting touch, Adams was the class's initial recruit, committing to UCLA last summer. The influence of McCray, Adams's AAU coach, was a huge factor in helping the 6'5" 220-pounder to choose the Bruins over Georgia, Memphis and Miami.
The smooth 6'8" small forward, a top 5 national recruit, is the linchpin of the Bruins' new freshman class. Howland snagged the New Jersey native—whose St. Anthony's teams went 65--0 the previous two seasons—last fall, setting the table for this spring's rich recruiting haul, which also included (see right) ...
The 6'6" Las Vegas native's commitment to Howland, a defense-first coach, fueled rumors that UCLA, an Adidas program, benefited from the shoemaker's ties to both Muhammad's AAU team and his tennis-playing sister, Asia (a charge Muhammad's father, Ron Holmes, denies).
Now legendary in recruiting circles for his commitment announcement, which lasted nearly an hour, the sturdy 6'9" center has unusually soft hands for a big man. A native of Lithonia, Ga., he is yet another McCray protégé, who chose UCLA over Georgia and Ohio State, among other top programs.