By RENALDO DORSETT
THE long-awaited NCAA basketball debut of Wannah Bail is nearing fruition as Bail will take his game to a PAC-12 powerhouse this fall.
The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball programme and head coach Steve Alford announced over the weekend that they have received a signed grant-in-aid from Bail, making his intent to join the programme official. His eligibility for the 2013-14 remains undetermined.
On the Bruins athletic website, www.uclabruins.com, Bail issued a statement highlighting his eager anticipation to join the programme this summer.
“I signed my financial aid agreement declaring my intent to attend UCLA,” Bail said. “In the coming weeks, I will be arriving on campus to begin summer classes in pursuit of my degree. In addition, I look forward to joining my teammates and Coach Alford and his staff to begin preparing for the upcoming season. UCLA has a long history of excellence on and off the basketball court. I am excited to join the Bruins family, get in school and get to work.”
Alford also lauded Bail and the impact he is expected to have as one of the first signees to Alford’s new regime.
“Wannah is a terrific young man, and we are thrilled that he will be able to join us this summer,” he said. “He has emerged as a very athletic, talented forward with tremendous upside. Our team is looking forward to playing with Wannah, and we are very excited about his future in Westwood.”
Alford signed a seven-year, $18.2-million contract in March to become the head coach of the Bruins, replacing Ben Howland who led UCLA to three final four appearances.
At 6’8” 210 pounds, the versatile Bail was one of the top frontcourt prospects out of the state of Texas for the class of 2012 and eventually decided on Texas Tech, but has yet to suit up for an NCAA contest.
Bail was one of 15 players or staff members to leave the Red Raiders programme under controversial head coach Billy Gillispie. He left the programme following the first summer school session, just before the start of fall practice and spent the past season at a prep school in the Canary Islands, virtually non-existent on the recruiting trail until just recently.
According to Jim Hicks of Rcssports.com, Bail was cleared by the NCAA in April and was granted a release by the Red Raiders shortly after.
Bail had been a blue chip prospect on the high school basketball scene in Houston, Texas, for the past few years since he joined the Frank Rutherford Elite Development Programm. He selected to stay “in state” after being suited by recruiters nationwide and sought after by a virtual who’s who list of NCAA programmes. He received offers from Houston, Arkansas, Auburn, FSU, Texas, Baylor and Kansas. He was ranked 89 out of a possible 100 points by ESPN.com, 35th among players at the position and 22nd overall in the state of Texas.
Bail left the Bahamas and attended a number of schools in the Houston area, ultimately landing at Lamar Consolidated in Rosenburg, Texas. He attended Trent Internationale School but had to transfer to Fort Bend in Austin, Texas, at the start of his senior season where he was ruled ineligible to compete in the Houston area and settled on Lamar. He played on the AAU circuit for the Franchize All-Stars and was a member of the Bahamas’ 2011 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship team where
he averaged 17.4 points and 14.2 rebounds per game.