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_