Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
One of the most intriguing and hyped recruiting processes in recent memory has finally come to an end.
And it leaves UCLA fans rejoicing, and Seton Hall and St. John’s fans heartbroken.
Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-8 point guard from Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony, on Monday night chose to bring his talents to the West Coast instead of keeping them near his Fairview, N.J., home for family and friends to watch.
“I’ve decided to be a UCLA BRUIN!!” he Tweeted, adding by email that he “just made up his mind tonight.”
He chose the Bruins over Seton Hall, St. John’s, Florida and Georgetown.
In the end, Westwood and UCLA coach Ben Howland won the sweepstakes to arguably the best player in the country.
“From the neck on up, he’s the best high school player in America, irrespective of class, right now,” longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski told SNY.tv about Anderson earlier this month.
“He elevates your basketball IQ. He has a basketball IQ on steroids.”
Seton Hall finished second, even after Pirates coach Kevin Willard attended an open gym Monday at St. Anthony and then met with Anderson one last time during a home visit.
After growing up attending Seton Hall games and watching two former teammates play for the Pirates, Anderson Tweeted: ” Sorry #piratenation i love you guys!!!!!!”
He added: “The last thing i want outta all this is to still go to shu games and have shu still on my side!!”
Whether Anderson’s close friend, Shabazz Muhammad, ends up joining Anderson at UCLA remains to be seen.
“Kyle, me and him really want to play together in college,” Muhammad, a 6-6 shooting guard out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, told FiveStarBasketball.com last month.
He added: “Yeah, I think it’s an option. We’ve been really talking about that. Pretty much he’s like my best friend now, so I’m always hanging around with him. We’re just talking about UCLA, what other schools he likes, what other schools I like.”
Dominic Artis, a 6-1 point guard from Findlay Prep, and Jordan Adams, a 6-5 shooting guard from Oak Hill Academy, have already pledged to the Bruins.
“I am looking forward to playing in the back court with Dom Artis,” Anderson said. “Dom can play both positions so when we are on the floor together it doesn’t matter who has the ball, kinda like when I played with Myles Mack and we were very successful playing together.”
Anderson previously said Howland often told this group what a special recruiting class they could be if they joined forces at UCLA.
“Yeah, yeah, he does,” Anderson said. “He definitely does. He tells us every time we come into the office. Just a great class we could have…and how the arena’s going to be renovated by the time we’re freshmen so he definitely talks about it a lot with us.”
Anderson added that he believes Howland can help improve him on both sides of the ball.
“They can help me get a more consistent jump shot from the long range,” Anderson said.
“I feel Coach Howland can [also] make me a better defensive player which will help me at the next level. Also, I like the PAC 12 and it’s wide open style of play.”
Konchalski believes Howland will make good on those promises.
“Ben Howland is a very defensive-oriented coach,” he said. “Ben Howland is going to make him a better defensive-oriented player. He’s going to demand that he works harder on defense.”
Anderson spent his first two years at Paterson (N.J.) Catholic before that school closed for financial reasons in June 2010. He then switched to St. Anthony and helped lead the Friars to an undefeated season (33-0) and a mythical national championship under Naismith Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley.
After the Playaz Basketball Club lost in the quarterfinals of the Peach Jam, Anderson led them to titles at the Desert Duel and the End of Summer Classic. He took home MVP awards in both events, as well as at the Rumble in the Bronx earlier this summer and the inaugural Franchise Classic in The Bronx.
“All summer long his teams have won,” Hurley told SNY.tv this month. “Whether he played for St. Anthony’s or whether he played for the Playaz, they won. And when it comes down to it at the end of games, he makes plays. And you want somebody to give you statistics, but you also want a performance that counts. And that’s what he really does.”
“He makes people better,” Konchalski added. “He’s a recruiting magnet. Kids like to play with him because he gives the ball up. He really sees the floor. He is a gifted passer in much the same sense that Chris Mullin was a gifted passer. Chris Mullin made some touch passes where he never even really caught the ball. He would sort of direct the angle of his hands.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.