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John Wooden, college basketball’s most revered living legend, expounded on many topics. One of his topics was “progress” and for Wooden, slow and steady was the order of the day.
“You must never stand still. You’re either moving upward a little bit or you’re going the other way. You can’t expect to go upward too quickly, but you can sure go down very quickly.
“The slide happens in a hurry. Progress comes steadily if you are patient and prepare diligently.”
Under Ben Howland, the UCLA Bruins have been consistent in their wins on the court and steady in its recruiting off the floor. In 2005, Howland’s class checked in at No. 13. A year later the Bruins signed the 21st ranked class and followed it with a No. 12 effort last year.
This time around, not only have the Bruins once again demonstrated a steady recruiting hand, they’ve hit the jackpot. Highlighted by the most competitive wing in America, Jrue Holiday, the Bruins climbed the mountain and occupy the top spot in Scout.com’s early signing period rankings.
A plethora of backcourt players mixed in with an energy power forward gave Howland his first-ever top-ranked recruiting class. In case you may have forgotten, the Bruins played for the national title two years ago and made the Final Four last season. With Holiday at the helm, Howland should steadily progress toward bringing a national title home to Westwood.
Frankly, we didn’t strongly consider another class for the top ranking but concede classes 2-5 are up for debate. Ohio State’s second-ranked group is built around future pros B.J. Mullens and William Buford.
Georgetown, whose class we believe to be solid without Greg Monroe, shot up once the top-ranked player in the country pledged his allegiance.
Skip Prosser is no longer with us but his “Big Three” recruiting class is set to pay homage to the man who worked so diligently to bring Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods to Winston-Salem.
Rounding out the Top 5 is Louisville. On sheer talent alone and in a year when numerous big time frontcourts have been assembled, Louisville’s may pack the biggest 1-2 punch. Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings will be a dynamic handful inside.
* denotes post-grad ranking
2008 Top 25 Recruiting Classes
2008 Conference Breakdown
2008 Top 20 Post Grads
2008 Top 100 Prospects
2009 Top 75 Prospects