There is something weird happening with UCLA recruiting for 2017 and the name “Jalen.”
Right now, between football and basketball, there are four recruits committed to UCLA for 2017 named some form of Jalen.
Two of the nine committed football recruits are named Jalen, and half of the basketball class.
That means 30% of the prospects currently committed to UCLA in both sports are named Jalen.
Jaelan Phillips, 5-star DE from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley
Jaylan Shaw, 4-star CB, Corona Centennial
Jaylen Hands, 5-star PG, El Cajon Foothills Christian
Jalen Hill, four-star post, Corona Centennial
It’s the Class of Jalen.
There is also the distinct possibility UCLA isn’t done in its Jalen recruiting for 2017.
UCLA is very much involved with 4-star offensive line prospect Jalen McKenzie, from Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley, and is considered the leader at this point; and has a legitimate chance of flipping Oregon-committed athlete Jaylon Redd, from Rancho Cucamonga (UCLA just utilized a helicopter Friday night to see Redd).
It’s shocking that UCLA didn’t actually get the younger brother of current UCLA defensive back Johnny Johnson – who is Jaylon Johnson, verbally committed to Utah.
At one point in the 2017 cycle, UCLA was recruiting Michigan safety prospect Jaylen Kelly-Powell.
UCLA did show some early interest in three-star cornerback Jalen Cole, from Santa Ana Mater Dei, who is verbally committed to Montana State. And, since we're drawing connections to UCLA, he's the high school teammate of UCLA defensive back commit Quentin Lake.
We’re a little surprised UCLA isn’t recruiting:
-- Jalen Reagor, TX WR committed to TCU
-- Jaylen Harris, #10-ranked WR in the nation from Ohio
-- Ja'len Parks, DL from Newbery (Fla.) verbally to FSU
-- Jalen Holston, the #26 ranked RB from Georgia
-- Jaylen Twyman, 3-star DT from Washington DC
UCLA is recruiting Dalyn Wade-Perry, the DT from Sparta (New Jersey), and it’s probably because the cosmic Jalen gods are just mixing up "Dalyn" with "Jalyn."
There might actually be some factual explanation for the Jalen phenomenon. The name Jalen did become popular in the 1990s in African-American communities. Its sudden popularity can be traced directly to Jalen Rose, the Michigan basketball player from the early 1990s. It’s thought that the Rose family coined it as a combination of two names, James and Leonard. It peaked in 2000, when Jalen became the 106th most popular male baby name in the United States. It was also among the top-ten most popular African-American names for 1999 and 2000.
But that doesn’t explain the UCLA-related cluster for the name Jalen.
Among Scout’s top 100 basketball prospects for 2017, there are three players named some form of Jalen. There’s also Jaylen Nowell, a shooting guard from Seattle (Wash.) Garfield, who is committed to Washington (We find it absolutely a dereliction of duty that UCLA didn't recruit Nowell since the Bruins clearly would have had a chance with him). Among the 100 top prospects in the country, there are just three named Jalen and two of them are committed to UCLA (and all three will play in the Pac-12).
Of the top 360 football prospects in the nation for 2017, there are nine players named a form of Jalen. Two of them are verbally committed to UCLA and UCLA is seriously involved with two more. If they do get Jalen McKenzie and Jaylon Redd, it would mean that four of the nine prospects among the top 360 players for 2017 named a form of Jalen would be Bruins.
It's also an amazing coincidence how UCLA-committed Jaylen Shaw and UCLA target Jalen McKenzie appear in the Scout 2017 database. The automated database sorts the players by rankings among the 2,500 listed in the 2017 class, and those two Jalen-named UCLA recruits appearf right next to each other.
There definitely is some cosmic force happening between UCLA and the name Jalen.