BOOM! 5-Star Forward T.J. Leaf Commits to UCLA


The UCLA Basketball program just got a huge Sonic Boom in the shape of a commitment from 5-star forward T.J. Leaf.

The 2016 UCLA Basketball recruiting class was already looking strong for the Bruins, but now it has been kicked up a notch. Head Coach Steve Alford has needed some time to get things going with recruiting in his first two years in Westwood but now things are on the upswing. Recently he has received huge commitments by Aaron Holiday, Prince Ali, Lonzo Ball, Ike Anigbogu, Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill.

RELATED: Welcome, UCLA Basketball Class of 2016!

Today, UCLA Basketball might have gotten their biggest recruit in the Steve Alford era as 5-star forward T. J. Leaf (El Cajon, CA/Foothills Christian) announced his commitment to the Bruins over Oregon and San Diego State. Per, Leaf is the #1 power forward in the west region and #4 in the country.

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Leaf is an incredible athlete that should thrive in UCLA’s up-tempo offense. At 6’10”, 205 lbs. Leaf is tall and lanky, but has excellent body and ball control. Leaf has excellent dribbling and passing skills which allows him to bring the ball down court or be a distributor if needed, but that is just the beginning.

His strengths are down low where he is a huge offensive threat. He can drive to the hoops, pull up for a short jumper or if he is in range, throw down ferocious dunk after ferocious dunk. Leaf can even hit the three if needed. Think of Kevin Love during his UCLA days, except more athletic.

Truly, Leaf is a sight to behold.

With Tony Parker graduating after this season, the Bruins were in need of some big men for depth. UCLA was able to secure commitments from 3-star forward Alex Olesinski and JC transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie this last recruiting class, but the immediate impact of these players does not compare to the big men of 2016.

The Bruins were able to get a huge commitment from 4-star center Ike Anigbogu which already had the 2016 class in good shape. Now, things have been taken to a whole new level with Leaf’s pledge to the Bruins.

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Leaf had originally committed to Arizona, but decided to open up his recruitment in August and immediately, UCLA Basketball was in play for the San Diego product. The only question was if the Bruins would have enough room for him, seeing as they would be at the 13 scholarship limit.

Rather than relying on one or two Bruins to opt for the NBA early and open up a scholarship, the answer came in the shape of Head Coach Steve Alford’s son, UCLA point guard Bryce Alford. In order to free up a scholarship for Leaf, word is that UCLA would pull Bryce’s scholie and have him play his senior season as a walk-on making plenty of room for Leaf.

Additionally, with this commitment, Leaf joins the aforementioned Anigbogu (who is an AAU Compton Magic teammate) along with 3-star SF Kobe Parras and 5-star PG Lonzo Ball. Before Leaf’s commitment, the Bruins had the #7 recruiting class in the country. With it, they should definitely be a Top 3 class.

Next: The Go Joe Bruin 2015-16 UCLA Basketball Season Preview

Looking at the long-term, the addition of these four players will be huge for the Bruins in the 2016-17 season as UCLA could have themselves their first Top 10 team in the Alford-era, but that is yet to be seen. Right now though, it is apparent that the future is bright for the UCLA Bruins!

Welcome to Westwood, T.J.!