ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—UCLA welcomes arguably the best recruiting class in the country to Westwood next season, but the early weeks of assimilating those new pieces have had to overcome some obstacles because of injury.
The two biggest pieces of the Bruins’ 2012 class, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, have been working back from thumb and ankle injuries, respectively, as UCLA readies for its overseas trip to China in August.
Anderson underwent surgery on an injured thumb this spring.
“Kyle is coming along well,” UCLA assistant Scott Garson told NBCSports.com at the “Live in AC” tournament in Atlantic City Thursday. “He’s been doing non-contact drills so far and we’ll start him on some contact drills soon.”
Anderson, the versatile 6-9 point forward from powerhouse St. Anthony’s High School (N.J.), should be seeing a lot of time running the offense in 2012-13. He is one of the premiere facilitators in the country and, with his size, can see over defenses and, as a complement to the scorer Muhammad, makes up half of a strong freshman duo.
“The thing about Kyle is he loves making guys around him better,” Garson said. “He can pass and find open guys, but also has that length and touch to score for himself.”
As for Muhammad, he sprained his ankle during his first workout at UCLA and has been sidelined since.
“Shabazz is progressing very well with rehab,” Garson said. “At this point in the year, we don’t want to rush anything, but he will be back on the court very soon.”
Muhammad was considered the best player in the Class of 2012 for much of the high school season, with some keeping him there despite the reclassification of Kentucky-bound big man Nerlens Noel.
UCLA travels to China in August, a trip that both Anderson and Muhammad are expected to make.
The Bruins finished last season with an overall record of 19-14, including 11-7 in the Pac-12. In addition to Anderson and Muhammad, UCLA welcomes Top 100 freshmen Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_