UCLA Inks Two High School Men's Basketball Standouts
LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men's basketball program has received signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) from high school seniors Will McClendon and Peyton Watson during the early signing period, as announced Thursday by Mick Cronin, The Michael Price Family UCLA Men's Head Basketball Coach.
Watson, a 6-foot-7 guard from nearby Long Beach, Calif., averaged 23.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game at Long Beach Poly last season. Currently a senior with the Jackrabbits, Watson has been ranked No. 8 in his high school class by 247Sports.com (and No. 17 by Rivals.com).
"Peyton is a big-time player, period," Cronin said. "He can score, assist, rebound and defend – few players can do it all in basketball. Combine that with his size and length, and that's a big reason he has been rated so high as a prospect. Peyton has a great work ethic and is a high-character young man. He has such a bright future. Peyton comes from a great family and a storied high school program. We are so excited that he chose to be a Bruin."
McClendon, a 6-foot-4 guard who has excelled at Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas), registered 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. Now in his senior year at Bishop Gorman, McClendon has been ranked No. 37 in his high school class by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.
"Will is known in basketball circles as a winner, at all levels, and especially at Bishop Gorman," Cronin said. "His reputation for making big shots precedes him. He's also known for his tremendous attitude and unselfish nature. Will has great length for a guard and he has a toughness about him. He's a worker who is a great recruit for UCLA and for what we're building."
Watson has been ranked as the state of California's No. 1 player by ESPN.com. Last season, he guided Long Beach Poly to the program's 11th consecutive Moore League title before earning All-CIF Southern Section Division I honors. As a sophomore in 2018-19, he helped Long Beach Poly to a perfect 12-0 league record.
In last season's regular-season finale for Long Beach Poly, Watson finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in a must-win game that allowed the Jackrabbits to clinch the Moore League title.
Watson was named as one of 50 players in the nation to the preseason watch list for the 2021 Jersey Mike's Naismith Trophy for High School Boys Player of the Year (as released by the Atlanta Tipoff Club). That award list will narrow down from 50 selections, prior to March 2021.
McClendon helped lead Bishop Gorman to the program's ninth consecutive state title during his junior campaign (2019-20), as the Gaels took down Desert Pines, 65-37, in the Nevada Class 4A state title contest at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. He scored a team-leading 14 points in the championship victory as Bishop Gorman concluded the season with a 29-3 record.
McClendon secured first-team All-Southern Nevada honors at the end of his junior season.
Both McClendon and Watson will enroll as freshmen at UCLA for the 2021-22 academic year.