Five-star forward T.J. Leaf commits to UCLA Bruins, Steve Alford
About three months after decommitting from one Pac-12 program, T.J. Leaf committed to another. The Foothills Christian (Calif.) High standout announced he will enroll at UCLA on an ESPNU special on Thursday. Leaf picked the Bruins over the Oregon Ducks and San Diego State Aztecs.
Leaf initially committed to Arizona last November but decided to reopen his recruitment in August, after averaging more than 16 points and eight rebounds with Israel at the FIBA U18 European Championships. He then created a list of eight schools (Cal, Gonzaga, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas and UCLA) before narrowing his options to the Bruins, the Aztecs and Oregon this month.
Leaf revealed his choice one day into the early signing period for college basketball after taking official visits to Louisville, Oregon and UCLA. At 6'10", 215 pounds, Leaf is highly regarded for his offensive versatility.
“He can play on the interior and is certainly plenty athletic, but Leaf is a lights-out shooter from deep with a big body to build on moving forward,” Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi wrote of Leaf in November. In 12 games with his grassroots program, the Compton Magic, on the Adidas Uprising circuit this year, Leaf averaged 21.0 points and 10.6 rebounds while posting a 29.2 Player Efficiency Rating.
Leaf checks in at No. 15 in the 2016 Recruiting Services Consensus Index, a composite ranking that incorporates data from several sources.
The Bruins and head coach Steve Alford add Leaf to a class that includes five-star guard Lonzo Ball, four-star center Ike Anigbogu and three-star guard Kobe Paras—far and away the top class in the Pac-12 at present. With big man Tony Parker set to graduate and a slew of forwards with varying skill sets on the roster, Leaf has a chance to contribute early in his college career. Post players Thomas Welsh and Jonah Bolden are both expected to remain in school after this season, though that could change.
Alford’s successful recruiting run at UCLA continues, and the Bruins have renewed their focus on in-state recruiting since he took over from Ben Howland in 2013. They have mined players from the Compton Magic AAU program in particular: Leaf joins teammates Paras and Anigbogu, in addition to current 2017 commits Jalen Hill and Jaylen Hands, as current and former Magic players pledging to attend the school.