UCLA, Arizona recruiting local kids and imports, will help lift Pac 12 back to top

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There were some less-than-flattering words used to describe what happened in the Pac-12 Conference this season.

What a difference a few signatures can make.

Last night, as Shabazz Muhammad pledged his name to Ben Howland and UCLA, the Bruins instantly became a contender in the conference and team to watch out for next season.

But it’s not only the ones in Westwood celebrating. Sean Miller and Arizona have some tricks up their sleeve as well.

The Wildcats will have five players (four of them in the Top 100) signed from the Class of 2012, once junior college power forward Matt Korcheck signs his letter of intent.

While point guard Josiah Turner will be leaving the program, forcing Miller to fill that spot with sophomore Nick Johnson, the Wildcats should be the favorites to open the season.

The key for these two programs has not only been to keep good talent on the West Coast, but to attract players from the East and lure them to the Pacific.

Kyle Anderson, the 6-8 guard from St. Anthony (N.J.), should run the point for the Bruins in 2012-13. He is a Top 5 prospect in the country and turned down St. John’s, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Florida to move out West.

Jordan Adams of Oak Hill (Va.) turned down Miami, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas to head to UCLA.

Kaleb Tarczewski, the 7-foot, 240-pound recruit they call “Zeus,” left Claremont, NH, to head to Arizona, where he will anchor the middle for the Wildcats.

Add those imports to the players who already stayed home, including Gabe York, Grant Jarrett, and Brandon Ashley, and the Pac 12 is on the right track.

It may be too soon to stand atop a mountain and decree that the Pac 12 is back, but look for significant improvement and some positive things coming from the conference in 2012-13, led by this new crop of young talent.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.