What a difference a win can make in the recruiting game. Potentially, that is. UCLA certainly hopes that rings true after knocking off nationally ranked Missouri, 97-94 in overtime, in front of packed house at Pauley Pavilion on Friday night. The upset was a statement-maker, not only here in Los Angeles, but all over the country. The Bruins are back, or signs point to that being the case.
UCLA received commitments from multiple high-profile prospects last season, arguably the best around. That core group, led by Shabbaz Muhammad, did most of the damage against the Tigers, No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Right around this time last year, Muhammad was No. 2 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings for the Class of 2012. The freshman phenom lived up to the advanced billing Friday night against Missouri and scored a career-high 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field for UCLA.
"This is one of the biggest wins that we've got right now " said Muhammad during the post-game press conference after hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime.
Not to be outdone, Kyle Anderson played well. No. 3 overall in the 247Sports Composite Rankings for the Class of 2012, he had six points and six assists in 28 minutes for UCLA.
No. 64 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings for the Class of 2012, Jordan Adams also contributed for the Bruins. He finished with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.
The opportunity for freshman to contribute right away at UCLA, given the right circumstance of course, is appealing to recruits currently considering Westwood as a destination.
A couple of UCLA commits took to Twitter on Friday night following the victory over Missouri to voice some of their thoughts. The same thing could be said about a few Bruins targets.
That said, it appears as if a win like the upset over Missouri on Friday night can potentially do wonders with regards to recruiting, even for a program with a pedigree such as UCLA.
Sean Ceglinsky has covered prep and college sports on the West Coast for the better part of the past 15-plus years. Follow him on twitter: @SeanCeglinsky