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Trent Perry, The Times’ high school basketball player of the year, signs with UCLA

When Mick Cronin set out to return UCLA to national prominence after its first losing season in nearly a decade, one of the critical questions was whether he would turn to transfers or freshmen.

Why not both?

The Bruins supplemented their massive transfer haul with a second freshman on Wednesday when Harvard-Westlake star point guard Trent Perry signed with the school. After initially signing with USC, Perry reopened his recruitment after Trojans coach Andy Enfield left for Southern Methodist.

Perry’s effort marked a second big win for UCLA over its crosstown rival after USC small forward Kobe Johnson announced his transfer to the Bruins earlier this spring.

Read more:Mick Cronin says UCLA’s disappointing season is ‘100%’ his fault

The 6-foot-2 Perry, a McDonald’s All-American who was also named The Times’ player of the year, averaged 18.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game last season while playing the Helped Wolverines repeat as Open Division state champions. Perry is widely regarded as a team player and defensive force who can also knock down three-pointers. He could serve as a backup to UCLA point guard Dylan Andrews and eventually replace him if Perry stays in college for multiple seasons.

“We are thrilled that Trent Perry has chosen to become a Bruin,” Cronin said in a statement. “He had a very successful high school career at Harvard-Westlake where he was coached extremely well by Dave Rebibo. Time and time again, he stepped up in big moments and led his team to victory.

“He will graduate as back-to-back California State Champion and the Gatorade California Basketball Player of the Year, along with a host of other impressive individual accolades. Trent has established himself as a dynamic playmaker, and we believe he has done just that. a very high ceiling as his game continues to develop. We look forward to having him in Westwood.

His arrival could trumpet a UCLA pipeline to Harvard-Westlake after the Bruins also brought in Christian Horry, the son of former Lakers forward Robert Horry, as a walk-on. UCLA is also believed to be recruiting coveted forward Nikolas Khamenia, who will be a senior for the Wolverines next season.

The Bruins have historically missed Harvard-Westlake’s biggest stars, losing twins Jason and Jarron Collins to Stanford and shooting guard Johnny Juzang to Kentucky before Juzang transferred to UCLA for his final two college seasons.

Perry joins fellow guard Eric Freeny as part of an incoming freshman class that has been supplemented by six transfers, heralding another offseason overhaul. For the second straight season, the Bruins will have eight newcomers. But they won’t be nearly as young as they were last season after signing so many veteran signings.

Read more:Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake

In addition to Johnson, UCLA brings forwards Tyler Bilodeau (formerly of Oregon State), Eric Dailey Jr. (Oklahoma State) and William Kyle III (South Dakota State) in, as well as guards Skyy Clark (Louisville) and Dominick Harris (Loyola Marymount).

UCLA’s newcomers appear to be addressing every issue that plagued the team last season. Harris offers elite three-point shooting; Dailey and Bilodeau offer veteran knowledge and versatility at power forward; Johnson’s strong perimeter defense could free Andrews from the need to defend an opponent’s top guard; Kyle is just as athletic, but much less prone to mistakes than predecessor Adem Bona; and Clark is versatile enough to play both guard spots at a high level.

“We have worked hard to build a squad with great talent and character,” said Cronin. “Each of our recruits understands our vision to compete for a national championship – that’s what we do at UCLA, and it will propel them toward their professional dreams as well. We plan to be a very deep and balanced team with skill, size, length and athleticism. Obviously, we are very excited to get everyone on campus this summer and start the process of coming together as a team.”

The Bruins are also expected to return center Aday Mara, joining guards Andrews and Sebastian Mack and forwards Lazar Stefanovic, Brandon Williams and Devin Williams. It is believed that the team will use name, image and likeness funds to cover the cost of one scholarship so that it does not exceed the limit of 13 scholarship players.

Being surrounded by so many proven veterans will challenge Perry and Freeny to prove they are worthy of significant playing time in their first collegiate season. But Perry’s dedication showed he isn’t afraid to compete for a role on what appears to be a stacked team.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.