UCLA opens the signing period with the best class in the Pac-12, and although technically a commitment from T.J. Leaf to Oregon on Thursday could change that, the Bruins are considered the favorites in that recruitment so we'll move forward under the assumption that Steve Alford is bringing home the best group of prospects in the conference.
For UCLA it starts with Chino Hills (Calif.)'s Lonzo Ball, Scout's 14th ranked 2016 prospect. The best passer in the class, Ball has elite size for the position at 6-foot-5 and is also a very good rebounder. He's one of the most versatile and exciting offensive players in the country.
UCLA isn't only bringing in an offensive specialist but also an elite defender. 6-foot-10 Corona (Calif.) Centennial center Ike Anigbogu is one of the nation's top shot blockers and has a significant upside. Angibogu comes in at 35th nationally.
The Bruins also have a commitment from four-star wing Kobe Paras. The Los Angeles Cathedral athlete has good size and long arms with a smooth stroke and impressive leaping ability. He has the chance to help UCLA on the offensive end.
UCLA has a successful class no matter what, but if the Bruins can land a commitment from El Cajon (Calif.) Foothills Christian power forward T.J. Leaf, Scout's 22nd ranked prospect in 2016, it would really cement this group for Alford and company.
Oregon still has a shot at the best class if the Ducks can secure a commitment from Leaf, who is choosing between UCLA, UO and San Diego State. With or without Leaf, however, this is a successful haul for Dana Altman and his staff.
Seattle Rainier Beach wing Keith Smith is Scout's 42nd ranked prospect in 2016 and will give the Ducks a lot of versatility on the perimeter given the fact he can play multiple positions on offense.
M.J. Cage, Scout's 60th ranked 2016 prospect, is a skilled center out of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. He has good size at 6-foot-10 and will help the Ducks inside with his ability to shoot and pass so well for the position.
Oregon also landed a skilled point guard in Payton Pritchard, ranked 61st in 2016. Pritchard's combination of handle and shooting ability is impressive, and he'll enter Eugene capable of contributing at the one.
Washington landed one of the nation's top prospect in Hyattsville (Md.) Dematha point guard Markelle Fultz. Ranked 7th nationally in 2016, Fultz is a true combo who will be counted on right away in Seattle due to his combination of size, athleticism, ball handling, vision and shooting ability. Washington also landed four-star center Sam Timmins, who projects as a big, skilled post at the next level.
Other Pac-12 schools landed some nice pieces as well, including Arizona with five-star Finnish post Lauri Markkanen, Arizona State with Jethro Tshisumpa and Sam Cunliffe, Utah with Devon Daniels, USC with Jonah Mathews and De'Anthony Melton, Oregon State with JaQuori McLaughlin, Stanford Cardinal with Trevor Stanback and California with Tyson Jolly.
Who Will Help the Most as a Freshman
It's hard to bet against Fultz. He's going to walk right into a Washington team that will need help at point guard and play big minutes right away.
Fultz' improvement over the last two years has been extreme and if he continues down the same path, he'll be a high level player very early into his Washington career.
Offensively, UCLA will no doubt find use for Ball's passing and versatility right away, while Markkanen's shooting ability at roughly 7-feet will likely get him minutes in Tucson.
Top to Bottom
Here is how the Pac-12 stacks up from top to bottom.
How the league stacks up
The Pac-12 is only signing a few five-star prospects in Fultz, Ball and Markkanen, but as a whole the league has added 14 four-star prospects, with 10 of 12 programs in the conference pulling in at least one.
Right now the ACC is squarely ahead of the Pac-12, but the league is very competitive with the Big Ten and SEC for the second best conference nationally.
Should Leaf choose UCLA or Oregon, that would help the conference's case, while other Pac-12 schools are still in the mix for five-stars, such as Arizona with Josh Jackson and Arizona State with Thon Maker.