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Holiday Gives UCLA Nation’s Best Recruiting Class For 2008:

With the addition of 6-foot-9 Kevin Love for the upcoming basketball season, UCLA is expected to remain a national power following two Final Four appearances.

         Now, the future looks bright for 2008 and beyond with the news that 6-foot-3 guard Jrue Holiday has given UCLA a verbal commitment.

         Even if Love goes to the NBA after one year, as expected, UCLA will remain powerful with a 2008 signing class rated No. 1 nationally by recruiting experts.

         Holiday, like Love, is considered a future NBA lottery pick. He said he chose UCLA over Washington in order to stay close to home.

         His brother, Justin, signed with Washington. Last week Jrue drove Justin to Seattle to enroll. He said he liked Washington, his other finalist, but became tired of travel during AAU basketball.

         Holiday can’t sign a letter of intent until November, but his non-binding verbal commitment ends considerable speculation about his choice and he’s unlikely to change his mind.

         Holiday will join three other players committed to UCLA in 2008 – guards Jerime Anderson of Canyon High in Anaheim, Malcolm Lee of North Riverside and 6-9 forward Drew Gordon of Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. Chace Stanback of Crenshaw, a sharpshooting 6-9 forward who was the LA City Player of the year last season, will arrive for the upcoming season with Love.

         Jrue Holiday can play either guard position and is likely to be the point guard at UCLA. He has led Campbell Hall High of North Hollywood to a pair of state championships, last season as a junior averaging 23 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals for a team that went 33-1.

         Campbell Hall plays in the same league as Brentwood. When Jrue was a sophomore attracting attention I went to the Brentwood gym to see what the fuss was all about.

         Brentwood has a good team and a rabid rooting section, and even a quality opponent figured to have a difficult night when it visited.

         But on this Friday evening with the stands packed the game was no contest.

         Led by Jrue, Justin and Joel Meyers, son of the Lakers’ announcer, Campbell Hall took a 20-4 lead after one quarter.

         Jrue was the star but Justin wasn’t bad either and Meyers went on to Loyola University.

         UCLA Coach Ben Howland is capitalizing on his team’s success the last two years.       

         One high school star, 6-9 Taylor King of Mater Dei High, backed out of a verbal commitment – reportedly not enthralled with Howland’s heavy emphasis on defense – and chose Duke.

         However, Holiday says he enjoys playing defense.         After reaching the Final Four two straight times it appears UCLA is just beginning another surge in its program – the best it has been since legendary coach John Wooden retired 30 years ago.

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