UCLA Basketball Recruiting: 5-Star G Amari Bailey Commits to the Bruins
Bailey originally committed to the program when Steve Alford was the coach. His recommitment is a huge coup for Mick Cronin.
Welcome back Amari Bailey!
UCLA’s 2022 recruiting efforts got a major boost on Wednesday when Bailey, a 5-star combo guard from Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, announced that he was committing to the Bruins. The commitment is a major coup for Coach Mick Cronin and his staff as Bailey ranks as the #4 prospect in the country in 247Sports Composite Rankings, along with being the best prospect in the state.
Bailey’s commitment represents the completion of a long journey for the guard and UCLA, as Bailey had originally committed to the Bruins back in December of 2018. Steve Alford was the coach of the Bruins then, but landing such a highly-touted recruit was not enough to save his job, which the Bruins mercifully relieved him of a few weeks later. Bailey would remain a UCLA commit until July of 2019, when he reopened his recruitment. To Mick Cronin and UCLA’s credit, they continued to recruit Bailey hard after his decommitment and Bailey even mentioned to Ben Bolch of the LA Times that Cronin’s staff simply outworked everyone else in the country. As he stated: "everyone else was just kind of—I wouldn’t say lackadaisical, but that’s just kind of what it was."
So what do the Bruins get with Bailey back in the fold? Let’s start with the highlight tape.
First off, it takes a lot to stand out at an absolutely-loaded Sierra Canyon program, especially as a sophomore, but Bailey managed to do so thanks to his fantastic athleticism. Bailey is incredibly good off the dribble, and shows an impressive ability to get to the basket on drives and finish at the rim. He also has shown solid playmaking abilities on those drives, consistently making good passes to find his teammates. While he is not a true point guard, Bailey could fill in as a capable backup when needed.
As the highlight package above shows, Bailey is at his best in transition and in the open court. He’s talented enough to push the pace and get easy baskets in transition. He is also an excellent finisher on lobs or 2-on-1 breaks. Bailey also has a solid jumper that should keep opponents from sagging off him on the outside.
What should delight UCLA fans the most, however, is Amari Bailey’s defensive effort. It stands out just how many of the highlights above were on the defensive end with Bailey flying around for blocks and making the correct read on opposing passes for a steal and transition basket. Bailey mentioned to Ben Bolch that he sees himself as a complete player who can compete just as well on the defensive end. He’s already considered one of the best perimeter defenders in his recruiting class.
UCLA clearly got a good player in Amari Bailey, but they’ll definitely want to keep up their recruiting efforts going forward. It’s not that Bailey is a flighty recruit — he did recommit to a school that had fired the first coach he committed to, after all — but with the looming presence of the G-League offering a legitimate option for high-level prospects, Coach Cronin will need to be vigilant in making sure UCLA is still seen as the best option for recruits.
Welcome (back) to Westwood, Amari!