The Bruins are closing in on one of their biggest targets of the cycle.
Class of 2022 center Ernest Udeh Jr. released his top two options Wednesday afternoon, UCLA and Kansas. The big man also announced he would be making his decision Oct. 20 at 4 p.m.
Udeh previously narrowed his list to 10 back on Aug. 16. Alabama, Baylor, Florida, Goergia Tech, Miami (FL), Michigan and Tennessee are the schools who ended up on the cutting room floor this time around. He was also previously considering joining newly-formed professional league Overtime Elite, but they too have fallen off his radar.
Udeh recently visited both UCLA and Kansas. He stopped by Westwood on Oct. 1, and then made his official visit to Lawerence the following week on Oct. 8. While Udeh shared photos from his trip to Kansas on social media, he has yet to personally post an equivalent album from his time spent at UCLA.
During his weekend in Westwood, Udeh went to the UCLA-Arizona State football game at the Rose Bowl, which the Bruins lost 42-23. Udeh was down at field level pregame and when UCLA men's basketball was honored at the end of the first quarter for their trip to the Final Four this past season. According to Bruin Report Online, Udeh and his family left at halftime and therefore did not see the Bruins' collapse down the stretch.
Udeh is ranked as the No. 29 prospect in the country by both the 247Sports Composite and Rivals, but No. 38 by ESPN. All three major outlets have him pegged as a high four-star recruit.
As a junior at Dr. Phillips High School (FL), Udeh averaged 10.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last year. On July 12, he earned an offer to the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp, which took place at the end of July.
Udeh led all players with a 75% field goal percentage and 8.0 rebounds per game at the camp.
UCLA currently has big men Cody Riley and Myles Johnson set to eat up most of the minutes down low, but both of them could be playing their final year of college basketball this season. That would leave 6-foot-10 big men Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba on the roster for the 2022-2023 season and the post rotation very much in flux.
The 6-foot-10 Udeh would therefore have a chance to compete for real playing time right off the bat in Westwood, depending on how the rest of the Bruins' recruiting class shakes out.
“If I go there, I’d be able to make an impact right away,” Udeh said in a recent interview with On3. “We recently had a Zoom the other day, and they walked me through how I’d fit in. If you were to ask me today about how I feel about them… I feel really good about them.”
Five-star combo guard Amari Bailey and four-star point guard Dylan Andrews currently make up UCLA's entire 2022 recruiting class. With as many as seven players departing the program next offseason, there are presumably going to be plenty of scholarship spots available, meaning the incoming recruiting class still has plenty of room to grow.
Five-star small forward Mark Mitchell recently said he plans to make his commitment in December, and the Bruins are in his final four. The nation's No. 1 power forward Yohan Traore also has UCLA in his top 10, although he isn't likely to commit until the spring. In-state center Adem Bona from Prolific Prep (CA) is also considering the Bruins among his options.