by Diego Marquez
UCLA men’s basketball announced its highly-talented incoming freshman class earlier this week.
Headlining the 2018 recruiting class is Shareef O’Neal, the son of Hall-of-Fame center Shaquille O’Neal, who committed to the UCLA Bruins earlier in the year, but had to straighten out his academic affairs and will join his teammates in Westwood soon. On Monday, O’Neal officially signed with the school after attending Crossroads School for his senior year. The No. 40 player overall in the 2018 signing class, O’Neal ranks as a top-10 power forward in the country. In his senior year playing basketball at Crossroads, O’Neal averaged 27 points per game en route to leading Crossroads to their first state championship since 1997, when Baron Davis, who also played and starred at UCLA basketball, led them to the title.
O’Neal is a four-star recruit and is part of a six-man incoming recruiting class that includes three other four-star recruits, including David Singleton, Jules Bernard and point guard Tyger Campbell, as well as three-star recruit center Kenneth Nwuba and the five-star center from Jamaica, New York Moses Brown. This, along with the fact that redshirt freshman Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were reinstated earlier this week after a year-long suspension, which was placed on them after both players, along with ex-UCLA men’s basketball player LiAngelo Ball, shoplifted sunglasses and other items from luxury shops in Hangzhou, China on UCLA’s trip to China about a year ago.
Singleton is probably the best all-around player in the Bruins signing class. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches, the combo-guard can play and defend multiple positions. He can create for himself off the dribble or create for his teammates with his excellent ball-handling skills. In his senior year at Bishop Montgomery, Singleton averaged 25.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.
Bernard is the No. 54 ranked recruit in the incoming class and can be a two-way player for UCLA head coach Steve Alford. At 6 feet 6 inches, Bernard can defend the 2 through 4 spots and can keep up with the quicker guards, if need be. He gets off the floor quickly, thanks to his long wingspan and leaping abilities, and should impact the Bruin rotation in one way or another.
Campbell is a top-100 recruit and is one of the best “true-point guards” in the 2018 freshman class. He is a little bit undersized, but at 6 feet, Campbell doesn’t back down from anything and have proven to be a leader. During his senior season at La Lumiere in Indiana, Campbell averaged 16.6 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 7.7 assists per game. The guard is as crafty as any point guard and has amazing court vision. He will fill the void that Aaron Holiday left when he entered the 2018 NBA Draft.
Nwuba stands 6 feet 10 inches and is a true center who does his damage when his back is to the basket. He doesn’t need to touch the ball all that much, as he can set solid screens and is a high-level rebounder. He loves to fight for inside position; this is one of his best attributes for getting second-chance opportunities. Playing for Huntington Prep in West Virginia, Nwuba averaged 6.3 points on 57.6 field going percentage, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Brown is the UCLA Bruins top-ranked freshman for the 2018 incoming class, and is arguably the best player to come out of New York. The 7-foot center is the No. 27 ranked player in this year’s class and brings incredible athleticism and agility for a man of his size. He is a nightmare for defenders as he can utilize the pick-and-rolls with ease and can snatch almost every rebound that comes his way. During his senior season at Archbishop Molloy High School, Brown averaged 26 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks per game.
With the amount of talent that the UCLA men’s basketball program brings with the incoming 2018 freshman class, along with the return of Riley and Hill, the possibilities are endless for the Bruins and their capabilities.