UCLA narrowly edges Kentucky for No. 1


The decision by Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove) to attend UCLA put the Bruins over the top. When we tallied the class in its entirety and stacked it up neatly next to Kentucky's, UCLA narrowly got the edge based on the addition of a pair of top-five players in No. 2 Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and No. 5 Kyle Anderson (Fairview, N.J./St. Anthony). Yes, we know, this is splitting hairs but that’s where we are when it comes to ranking these classes.

There isn’t a person on our staff who can definitely tell you who has the No. 1 class. There always tends to be debate regarding the classes, but this time around, the minuscule difference between No. 1 and No. 2, with No. 3 Arizona raising its hand, is difficult to calculate.

The fact of the matter is UCLA has a ton of good players coming in next season. Think about where this program has come in the past few months. It missed the postseason, got skewered by Sports Illustrated and then went out and collected this group of players, three of which were McDonald’s All-Americans.

However, No. 1 today could be No. 2 later this spring. Kentucky is in the mix for Anthony Bennett (Canada/Findlay Prep). Yes, UK fans, the Cats would leapfrog the boys from Westwood should Bennett pick UK. Yes, that would then give the Wildcats a fourth-consecutive No. 1 class. Yes, there will be some outlets that favor UK’s class regardless. No, we wouldn’t have a critical argument if they did. It’s that close.

How UCLA got Parker

When UCLA hired assistant Korey McCray, a former AAU coach in Georgia, there was an expectation that the Bruins would tap into the Atlanta Celtics pipeline. McCray’s father sits on the bench for the Celtics and has for a long time. The hire paid dividends with the current senior contingent.

Jordan Adams (Lawrenceville, Ga./Oak Hill) is a lifelong Celtic. He was the first Georgian to pledge to the Bruins. I went back to the Class of 2002 and found that the Bruins had only one non-West Coast top-100 player and that was Texan J’Mison Morgan. With the addition of Parker, courtesy of McCray, Ben Howland will sign three this year (Anderson is from New Jersey). Though Parker played most of his travel ball with the Georgia Stars, he did some moonlighting with the Celtics. Dion Glover, a former Georgia Tech standout and confidant of McCray, coaches one of the Celtics' younger teams and has a relationship with Parker.

For now, the Bruins own the No. 1 class. It’s Howland’s second time cobbling up such a prestigious group. In 2008, Jrue Holiday headlined what could best be described as an underachieving bunch that included multiple transfers. Though he’s the best prospect in the bunch, Muhammad won’t ultimately define the Bruins' class. His stay is expected to be short in Los Angeles. This class will need Anderson, Parker and Adams to do the heavy lifting once Muhammad exits after his freshman season. Their legacy will be the ultimate judge of these class rankings.