Five-star hoops prodigy Amari Bailey announced on Wednesday night that he has committed to Mick Cronin and UCLA, giving the Bruins their first major piece in the 2022 cycle and Cronin his third five-star verbal commitment since taking over the program in 2019. Bailey chose the Bruins over offers from Alabama, Kansas and DePaul.
A top-five talent in the 2022 class rated in the 247Sports Composite as the No. 3 player overall and the No. 1 player at the shooting guard position, Bailey's decision marks a full circle for him. He originally committed to UCLA early in his recruitment process in 2018 under Steve Alford but backed away from that pledge in 2019 shortly after Cronin was plucked from Cincinnati to take over in Westwood.
That Cronin and Co. were able to win him back over speaks volumes to the draw of UCLA and also to the force they've been as a staff. Last season, they landed a commitment from the top-rated point guard prospect in the country in Daishen Nix, who backed out in the final hour to sign with the G League. They also have a five-star on the way next season in California native Peyton Watson.
"UCLA was always the place I wanted to be on and off the court, just my lifestyle and who I am as a person, I feel like it suited UCLA best," Bailey told the LA Times' Ben Bolch on why he chose UCLA for a second time.
UCLA has two players committed for 2021 in Watson and four-star guard Will McClendon, a tiny class that is to be expected from a roster that right now is relatively young. By the time Bailey arrives in 2022, the Bruins could be welcoming in a blue-chipper to an elderly roster that could push for supremacy in the Pac-12.
On the season, they are 14-5 overall and trailing only USC in the conference regular-season title race.