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RECRUITING / JEFF FELLENZER : Bruins Get a Jump on Competition With Commitment From Bailey

July 29, 1993|JEFF FELLENZER

Only three weeks into the college basketball recruiting season and already UCLA Coach Jim Harrick is a happy man.

For Harrick and his staff, good news arrived July 1--the first day that college basketball coaches could begin talking incoming seniors--when 6-foot-5 swingman Toby Bailey of Loyola High made an unwritten commitment to UCLA.

Bailey averaged about 25 points and 14 rebounds as a junior. He has improved his perimeter skills this summer and was selected one of the top 20 players at the prestigious Nike camp in Indianapolis this month.

Bailey, who has a 3.0 grade-point average, has already passed the Scholastic Aptitude Test and will be eligible as a freshman.

"I've always wanted to go to UCLA, and I think everyone knew that," said Bailey, whose father, John, graduated from UCLA in 1972.

"I'm looking forward to playing with Charles and Ed (O'Bannon). Also, by committing early, it may help convince other players in my class to commit to UCLA, too."

As recently as early April, Harrick and his staff had not signed any players for the 1993-94 season. Then the Bruins signed 6-1 point guard Cameron Dollar of Frederick, Md., adding depth to the backcourt, and were able to beat out Kentucky for the services of Charles O'Bannon, Lakewood Artesia's 6-6 All-American forward and brother of UCLA forward Ed O'Bannon.

UCLA, with five scholarships to give for the 1994-95 season, is hoping to put together its most talented recruiting class in years. Now that Bailey has committed, the Bruins are recruiting a group that includes 6-6 guard Rick Price, who recently announced his transfer from Long Beach St. Anthony to Gardena Serra; 6-5 point guard Jelani Gardner of Bellflower St. John Bosco; 6-4 guard Trajan Langdon of Anchorage, Alaska; 6-11 center Omm'A Givens of Aberdeen, Wash.; 6-9 forward J.R. Henderson of Bakersfield; 6-9 forward Jerod Ward of Clinton, Miss.; 6-5 guard Felipe Lopez of New York; 6-4 guard Miles Simon of Santa Ana Mater Dei; 6-8 forward Mark Madsen of Danville, Calif., and 6-5 forward Kris Johnson of Crenshaw High.

Madsen and Johnson, who is the son of former UCLA All-American and current Bruin radio broadcaster Marques Johnson, impressed college coaches and scouts with their play during last week's Slam-N-Jam National Invitational tournament at Cal State Long Beach.

The Bruins are considered front-runners for Givens, the top center prospect on the West Coast; Henderson, who has terrific all-around skills but whose intensity level has been questioned at times, and Gardner, a gifted point guard with a scorer's mentality. All three are being recruited nationally, with Kentucky considered a strong contender for Gardner. If even two of the three eventually sign with UCLA, the Bruins will probably have the makings of a class comparable to any in the country.

Actually, UCLA's recruiting for the 1993-94 season may not be finished. If the NCAA rules that the Wake Forest letter of intent signed by 6-9 forward Makhtar Ndiaye of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., is invalid due to recruiting violations, UCLA will likely be one of the schools that Ndiaye, a native of Senegal, Africa, will visit.

A decision by the NCAA on Ndiaye's status should come any day.

Notes

USC's next basketball recruiting class will be guard-oriented. Now that Stais Boseman, Jaha Wilson and Claude Green have passed their college entrance examinations, Trojan Coach George Raveling and his staff would like to sign three players for the 1994-95 season. Word has it that Jason Pickett, a 6-1 guard from Wilmington Banning, will be the first to give Raveling an unwritten commitment. Pickett scored 40 points against Dorsey in a summer tournament game recently. His speed and style are reminiscent of former UCLA guard Rod Foster.

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