UCI's new center.

Some basketball recruiting news while John Speraw gets his team ready for the MPSF Tournament beginning tomorrow…

  • Coach Russell Turner and his staff has added a true center to next year’s class with the commitment of center Conor Clifford. Unofficial affirmation from Clifford’s father and various message board rumors were confirmed on Monday when UC Irvine and Ocean View High School announced that the 7-foot center has committed to becoming an Anteater. The half-Japanese half-Irish local product (NOT the Irish professional footballer) will have four years of eligibility beginning in 2012-13, adding a “true big man” to the program. Clifford was named All-CIF 2AA while being honored by the Orange County Register. He also received a scout grade of 80 from ESPN, drawing positive remarks.

Clifford has a huge frame with solid length and he possesses some of the best hands in basketball. He has been well taught in the fundamentals and his post moves are getting better. Due to his big frame he knows how to get big and give his passer a [big target]…

Evidently, Marcus Bradley's number also foreshadowed how many years he would play at UCI. (Jeff Gritchen/Long Beach Press-Telegram)
  • While Clifford becomes an exciting developmental project for Coach Russell Turner’s staff, his arrival also coincides with forward Marcus Bradley’s departure from the team. Bradley’s decision to transfer after one year at UCI was reported by Jeff Goodman’s End-of-Year Updated Transfer List, which reveals no destination for Bradley as of yet. Bradley’s decision to transfer isn’t surprising, seeing as the freshman never was able to see meaningful minutes on the court. With everyone returning and more recruits coming in, it wasn’t going to get any easier for the Corona Del Mar High School product.
  • Another interesting piece of recruiting news from Goodman is New Mexico freshman Dominique Dunning listing UCI as one of his three finalist destinations. The other two schools are fellow local Big West institutions: UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton. Dunning is another Socal player who is looking to return closer to home after not seeing as much time on the court as he had hoped. An underwhelming 1.5 PPG and 6 minutes per game is explained by a strong Lobos team that made it into the second round of the NCAA Tournament this year. Dunning also received a ESPN scout grade of 90 last year, which should translate very well to the Big West.
  • In my opinion, Bradley’s vacant scholarship is probably best filled by someone who will be an immediate impact player for UCI in 2013-14, when the Anteaters lose a solid core of seniors. Of course, getting a star for the upcoming season would be great as well, but the chances for that are dwindling as the late signing period dwindles on. If UCI misses out on Dunning, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Turner and assistant Ali Ton made another attempt at bringing a foreign player overseas to Irvine. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how UCI finishes a recruiting class that consists of Clifford along with fellow incoming freshman Alex Young.
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