The 2012-13 NCAA men's basketball season is over. It ended when Louisville took home their own trophy on Monday night, which is just their third in program history.
(Big deal – UCLA has 11; call us when you reach the halfway point, Rick Pitino.)
With that, though, comes the scrambling associated with basketball recruiting. For UCLA, that scramble is mostly over. The Bruins' 2013 class already has three commits, all wingmen: Zach Lavine out of Washington, Allerik Freeman out of Nevada, Bryce Alford (yes, Steve Alford's kid) out of New Mexico, and Noah Allen out of Salinas, CA.
Of course, there's still one more big fish to be caught: Point guard Rysheed Jordan, whose final list includes St. John's, Temple, and UCLA.
And although some scouting services have LaVine as the superior prospect, the five-star 2-guard out of Washington doesn't provide what Jordan can. While LaVine is an electric scorer, he's not the playmaker that Jordan is.
LaVine isn't a true point guard, despite his size and frame, which are point-guard-like. Jordan? He's an above-average passer and has played the on-guard spot in high school rather consistently. While his high school averages don't suggest that Jordan is a gaudy playmaker — he averages around 25 points, six rebounds and four assists a contest — scouting services across the nation think Jordan is ready to play the role of offensive initiator at a major college.
And UCLA won't have that, at least not definitely. While we don't know if Steve Alford's going to have the cajones to use Kyle Anderson the way Anderson should be used — as a versatile, physical point forward — we do know that even unimaginative coaches can do serious damage with traditional-looking point guards. While Anderson is likely the better playmaker and the smarter player overall at this point, Jordan would provide a nice option at the point should Alford be a lazy coach. (We don't know if he is yet, but many coaches are.)
Because if Anderson can't man the offense, and if Jordan doesn't head west, then the Bruins are left with a slew of off-guards whose primary goal is to score. With Jordan Adams and Norman Powell returning, and with Allen, Freeman and LaVine coming in, someone's going to need to play the role that Larry Drew II played so well in 2012-13.
Of course, it's fair to note that UCLA is at a bit of a disadvantage with Jordan. The high school senior is from Philadelphia, PA, and St. John's is an hour or two away while Temple is in Philly. It was reported that Jordan preferred to stay close to home, but that was many months ago and things may have changed, except for the fact that Temple and St. John's are still options.
Still, neither of those schools come close to measuring up with the basketball culture surrounding UCLA, meaning it's fair to assume UCLA has a reasonable shot when Jordan announces his decision on Thursday.
Still, there's reason to be anxious, both because the Bruins need Jordan, and because the Bruins may not get him.