UCLA basketball Lands Top California Prospect
July 30, 2020
UCLA basketball has had a pipeline to the NBA for decades, producing some of the greatest players in NBA history. In the spirit of that storied tradition, Long Beach Poly star Peyton Watson announced on Monday that he has decided to take his talents to the UCLA campus in Westwood. Watson, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound small forward, is considered the top high school basketball prospect in the class of 2021 in the state of California.
The five-star talent averaged 23.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in his junior season. The addition of Watson has moved UCLA into the 7th spot in the 247sports.com team national basketball recruiting rankings for 2021. UCLA also has a commitment from Will McClendon, a four-star recruit from Bishop Gorman high school In Las Vegas. McClendon is a 6-foot-3 guard who should fit in well with Watson.
Watson is not lacking in confidence, telling ESPN that, "I'm the No. 1 player in California, and I feel like UCLA is the original blue blood. It's hard to pass up an amazing school where my parents can see me play and have the support of my community behind me. I'm a huge family guy. It means a lot to me that my family will be able to come to the games."
Playing at UCLA comes with expectations. UCLA recently announced their 37th Hall of Fame Class and among the members of this class are Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Love and Westbrook became the 50th and 51st members of UCLA men's basketball to earn a spot in the Bruin Hall of Fame. Love was a First-Team All-Pac-10 and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2008. He is also a five-time NBA All-star, NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and led the NBA in rebounding in 2011.
Westbrook is a nine-time NBA All-star and NBA Most Valuable Player in 2017. He is a two-time NBA scoring champion and two-time NBA assist leader. Westbrook was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Watson is up for the challenge, stating: "I think I can make a huge impact immediately with my versatility and skill set. My goal is to lead UCLA to a national championship."
For UCLA head basketball coach Mick Cronin, adding local star Watson was extremely important. First, and foremost, UCLA needs to win the recruiting wars in Southern California. USC has already added two four-star recruits to their 2021 class, and they are currently ranked 4th in the nation in team basketball recruiting by 247sports. With the abundance of talent in Southern California, both USC and UCLA need to keep the local talent at home and to this point, they are both accomplishing that goal.