At least one of UCLA's two most prized freshmen apparently will be in uniform when the Bruins open newly renovated Pauley Pavilion next Friday.
Kyle Anderson, Rivals.com's No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2012, has been cleared to play by the NCAA, members of his family told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday morning. UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero confirmed the report via statement Wednesday afternoon.
"UCLA was informed by the NCAA earlier today that freshman guard Kyle Anderson is eligible to play this season, and that the NCAA has found no evidence to substantiate claims of violations in his case," Guerrero said. "I am grateful to all those who were involved in the process. We are looking forward to opening our season on November 9 against Indiana State at New Pauley Pavilion."
The only surprise regarding the NCAA's decision on Anderson was that it took this long. Those close to the UCLA program have long been confident Anderson would be cleared even as the NCAA looked into his relationship with Thad Foucher, an agent for a firm founded by UCLA alum and donor Casey Wasserman.
There's less confidence regarding the status of Shabazz Muhammad, the other top freshman under investigation by the NCAA as a result of potential amateurism issues. No timetable has been released for when the NCAA expects to make a decision on the eligibility of Muhammad, who is also nursing a shoulder injury that will keep him from practicing or playing until at least the end of next week.
In response to the Anderson news, Muhammad tweeted, "Hopefully I'm next so we can get this season going !!!!"
Having Anderson eligible right away is a boost to UCLA's chances of contending nationally after four seasons in which the Bruins either didn't make the NCAA tournament or failed to advance past the first weekend.
Anderson, a point guard in a 6-foot-9 forward's body, boasts incredible vision and passing ability for a man his size. He posted double-doubles in two of UCLA's three games on an exhibition tour of China two months ago, including a 21-point, 11-rebound, five-assist masterpiece in the finale of the trip against the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese professional team.