ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 17: Head coach Ben Howland of the UCLA Bruins smiles from the sidelines during an 82-39 win over the UC Davis Aggies at Honda Center on December 17, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
At this very moment, UCLA arguably has the best recruiting class in the country.
As a result, many are hurling themselves at the easy conclusion that winds of change are sweeping through Westwood, even going so far as to say that the 2012-2013 season will be a disappointment if this team does not reach the Final Four.
I cringe at those lofty expectations.
With three top 20 players from the class of 2012 - including the latest, Tony Parker, who announced his intention to play for Ben Howland after an awkwardly long press conference this afternoon - the excitement is very valid and real. But while UCLA will enter next season relevant and important after a three-year hiatus, the roster improvements should not (yet) signal a 180-degree turn.
The trio of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Parker probably all have intentions of serving as one-and-done players. They're all a classic example of the pit-stop player. Just because three top freshman have signed with the Bruins, doesn't mean that future subsequent recruiting classes will be as talent-laden.
Ben Howland, a coach who was exposed for interpersonal communication deficiencies among other things last month, still has a lot prove himself. His style is boring. It doesn't breed enthusiasm from fans and it doesn't necessarily help sell a player's offensive skill set. He also may not have directly contributed much to reel in this batch of players, and is guilty of mis-handling a top-rated recruiting class once before.
It's hard to argue this is a sustainable solution.
John Calipari, love him or hate him, has implemented a system and philosophy that suits the elite high school basketball player. His pitch is to get you to the NBA when you're ready. His approach gets talent to play together and win, if only for one season.
UCLA isn't even close to what's happening in Lexington.
With Howland as head coach and a scathing Sports Illustrated forever linked to his name, Bruins fans should consider themselves very fortunate with this recruiting coup.
If they don't meet or exceed expectations next season, and lose Muhammad, Anderson and maybe even Parker to the NBA next spring, what happens next?
What sort of real improvements have been made to this program?
Howland is still the same coach -- an odd ball coaching sort of an odd cast of players. Is he capable of bringing in another top recruiting class to make up the difference in lost talent?
This could be the start of something great (or just normal by historical standards at UCLA) but to say the school's 2012 recruiting class suddenly makes everything better is a tad myopic.