UCLA Leads for Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine, the talented 2013 combo guard, talks how UCLA has retaken the lead in his recruitment, who his primary recruiter is, and when he plans to make his final decision...

Through the early fall of last season, UCLA led for Zach LaVine and there was even talk of him committing early to the Bruins. Then, toward the winter, LaVine opened things up a bit more, wanting to take a look at a wider variety of schools.

Call that nothing more than a passing thought, because now LaVine has returned the Bruins to the top of his list.

"UCLA is the leader for me right now," LaVine said. "I just had talked to my uncle and my sister lives down there, and right now I just feel like it's the best fit for me. It's such a great school, and they've got a great recruiting class coming in. I just hope, if I go there, that I can fit right in and help them to get a lot better."

LaVine's primary recruiter from UCLA is Scott Garson, but Coach Howland has played a significant personal role in LaVine's recruitment.

"I've talked to Coach Howland a ton of times," LaVine said. "I can't even count how many times. I feel like we have a really good relationship."

Right now, LaVine is being recruited primarily as a point guard by most of the schools recruiting him, but thinks that he could grow out of the position. He lists himself at 6'3 ½, but thinks he could keep growing, and anticipates possibly playing more of a combo role in college.

LaVine's also paying extra special attention to the NBA playoffs, and how many UCLA players have been participating.

"They've had so many great guards," LaVine said. "I mean, if you look at these playoffs, you had pretty much a UCLA player or point guard in basically every series. So, I mean, they've had a lot of great players. It's a big draw."

UCLA's rise to the top of LaVine's leaderboard comes after a tumultuous season for the Bruins. First, there was the downer of the season, with UCLA not making the NCAA tournament and Howland suffering a reputation hit with the Sports Illustrated article. For LaVine, though, neither situation had much impact.

"It didn't really have much of an effect on me," LaVine said. "I heard a lot of different stories about it. Right after that, on Facebook and Twitter, there was a lot of stuff from former players coming out in support of the program, talking about how great Coach Howland was and how it was kind of a dumb article. And then Coach Howland told me to just take it the way I want to, but that most of the stuff isn't true."

And then, with the incoming recruiting class being heralded as one of the top in the nation, LaVine saw evidence of a program that was beginning to right itself.

"I just look at the guys they have coming in, and it's going to be a really good team," LaVine said.

Academics-wise, LaVine currently stands at about a 2.9 GPA, but he's been progressing steadily upwards, and for that, he's appreciative of the help he's gotten.

"I just want to thank all of my teachers for helping me through this process, helping me to get better grades, and sticking with me," LaVine said. "Just helping me to get everything together, and helping me grow as a person."

LaVine isn't planning on making a commitment until after the AAU season this summer, and he's still got a couple of schools he's considering in addition to UCLA.

"I've got to put Washington up there," Lavine said. "I have to put Louisville. I've loved all the schools I've talked to, and I thank God for them recruiting me and putting in the time. And I've got to mention Gonzaga, they really like me, and Arizona."

He also hasn't gotten a new offer in a while, but says he's getting a lot of increased interest from Missouri and Memphis.

But it looks like UCLA is the big favorite for LaVine at the moment, and it sounds like the family is supportive.

"My parents said, ‘Make this decision for yourself, it's your own life,'" LaVine said. "My dad said he'd like to see me go to UCLA, but the decision's up to me."

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