Three weeks after offering one of the top recruits in the Northeast, the Bruins have made the cut as one of his top finalists.
Class of 2023 forward Brandon Williams trimmed his list to five on Tuesday, announcing his finalists on Instagram in partnership with Tipton Edits. The Christ the King (NY) prospect included UCLA men's basketball on his shortlist alongside St. John's, Illinois, Oklahoma State and UConn.
Williams previously had offers from Bryant, Creighton, George Mason, Kansas State, LSU, Missouri, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, TCU and USC, but those schools appear to be out of the running for the time being.
Williams took an unofficial visit to Westwood in 2021, and he has an official booked with UCLA for Aug. 2. St. John's is the only official Williams has taken thus far, but he could plan ones with his other finalists in the near future as well.
UCLA has been recruiting Williams since last year, and associate head coach Darren Savino – a New Jersey native who held positions at St. John's and Seton Hall before joining Mick Cronin at Murray State and Cincinnati – has strong ties to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic recruiting circles.
Williams grew several inches over the past two years, and he currently measures in at 6-foot-7 and just over 200 pounds. He only emerged as a top national prospect his junior year, and his current rounds on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring have cemented his place in the spotlight.
Beginning at the first evaluation period in Orlando in April, Williams started putting up near-double-doubles with multiple steals and blocks, emerging as an athletic high-flier in the process. Williams plays for PSA Cardinals – the same program that rising redshirt sophomore Mac Etienne played for before committing to UCLA in 2020 – and he showed out at the Pangos All-American Camp earlier in June.
Rivals and On3 recently joined ESPN and 247Sports in pegging Williams as a four-star recruit. Williams is the consensus No. 1 prospect in New York, and he has even snuck into the top 100 in several outlets' rankings.
Williams fits most traditionally at power forward at the high school level, but given his athleticism and length, he would likely slide in as a wing-forward should he come to Westwood for college. Jaime Jaquez Jr. will fill that role for the fourth consecutive season this coming year, but he is set to leave without a clear successor next offseason.
Jaylen Clark's defense, athleticism and lack of an outside shot make him a favorite to take over at that position, but he could move to a more traditional wing-guard spot if Williams or another pure wing-forward commits for 2023.
That 2023 class is going to be a decisive one for Cronin, considering the program could have as many as eight scholarship spots open up next offseason. As of June, the Bruins do not have a single commit for that group, but they have 19 offers out to uncommitted recruits and are squarely in the running for a solid handful of them.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDON WILLIAMS/INSTAGRAM