UCLA basketball lands eerily similar top 5 recruiting class

UCLA gained recruiting momentum when it landed the best class of the Steve Alford era last year. But the who knew the Bruins were being so efficient?

UCLA was working on both classes at the same time considering its 2017 recruiting haul includes high school teammates – and in one case, a blood relative – of each of the three players from the 2016 class. Most importantly, the caliber of talent is similar too.

On the first day of the early signing period, the Bruins’ signed the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, according to espn.com. And that doesn’t include the potential addition of five-star small forward Kris Wilkes, an Indiana native expected to choose the UCLA over Indiana and Illinois. Rivals.com and scout.com rated UCLA’s haul the fourth-best in the nation.

The headliner is freshman T.J. Leaf’s former teammate, point guard Jaylen Hands of El Cajon Foothills Christian, rivals.com’s No. 26 prospect. Ike Anigbogu’s former running mate in the front court at Corona Centennial High, Jalen Hill, is the espn.com’s No. 50 recruit and Lonzo Ball’s brother, LiAngelo, is a 3-star shooting guard from Chino Hills High. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon power forward Cody Riley, scout.com’s No. 30 prospect, is the fourth member of the class and one of the best rebounders in the country.

Jalen Hands
Point guard
Foothills Christian High School, El Cajon, Calif.
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 170
Rivals.com: No. 26 overall

Scout.com: No. 27 overall
Espn.com: No. 31 overall
Steve Alford: “Jaylen is an elite point guard who brings great speed to our backcourt. He has the ability to change the tempo of a game. Jaylen is a terrific athlete who thrives in transition and can make good decisions at full speed.”

Cody Riley
Power forward
Sierra Canyon High School, Chatsworth, Calif.
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 240
Scout.com: No. 30 overall
Rivals.com: No. 34 overall
Espn.com: No. 45 overall
Steve Alford: “Cody gives us a physical presence inside. He has tremendous size and explosiveness and can play both in the post and also out on the floor. His versatility and strength with that elite skill set makes him a special player.”

Jalen Hill
Power forward
Centennial High School, Corona, Calif.
Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 220
Espn.com: No. 50 overall
Rivals.com: No. 61 overall
Scout.com: No. 87 overall
Steve Alford: “Jalen has a very bright future. He’s a young player who is long and athletic and takes great pride in rebounding the basketball. He runs the floor very well and has the potential to be an elite shot blocker.”

LiAngelo Ball
Shooting guard
Chino Hills High School, Chino Hills, Calif.
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 240
Espn.com: No. 14 in California
Scout.com: unranked
Rivals.com: unranked
Steve Alford: “Gelo can flat-out shoot the basketball. At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, he brings size, strength and a guy who knows how to make shots. We love his physical approach to the game and his ability to post as well as play on the perimeter.”