After signing three multi-talented, multi-position players last year, UCLA nabbed another one when versatile 6-foot-7 forward Evan Burns of Los Angeles' Fairfax High made a commitment to play for Steve Lavin and the Bruins.
"He was born and raised here and has always followed UCLA basketball," said longtime Fairfax head coach Harvey Katani.
If Burns qualifies academically – a big question given his borderline GPA and the fact he has yet to take the SAT -- he would join Class of 2001 recruits, 6-foot-8 Andre Patterson, 6-foot-8 Dijon Thompson and 6-foot-6 Cedric Bozeman, to give UCLA one of the most athletic and versatile lineups in the country. Patterson, Thompson and Bozeman were all rated among the top 40 seniors in last year's class.
"Athletic" and "versatile" are words that describe the Fairfax senior well.
"He has great skills, a good court sense and has the ability to lead a break and dish the ball," said recruiting expert Tracy Pierson of prepwesthoops.com and bruinreport.com. "He can pass the ball really well and is a good shooter."
Pierson rates Burns among the top 10 seniors in his class. In the current issue of Student Sports Magazine, Burns is ranked No. 13 in the prep ranks regardless of class and is classified in the top 10 in leaping ability and in finishing around the basket.
Those rankings followed a sterling spring and summer that saw Burns re-establish a reputation that had lagged during a lackluster junior year, when the talented three-year starter for the Lions often appeared distracted and lacking in intensity on the court. But showing more dedication to defense and an improved shot to well beyond three-point range, Burns zoomed back into the top 10 in his class with a complete package of skills that had every major college salivating.
When asked about Burns' upcoming senior season, Kitani said he could see that his star's maturity level had risen and that he expected big things out of him.
"Physically he is much stronger and I'm starting to see him do things on the court that I've never seen him do before," Kitani said. "He has prepared more than ever for this upcoming season."
That should position the Lions, who also have talented juniors Alex Bausley, Kevin Bell and Josh Shipp, as one of the teams to beat in the L.A. City Section, along with defending champ Westchester and perennial power Crenshaw.