State guard Morgan Cheli wins UCLA women’s basketball bid

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The Bruins have entered one of the best recruiting classes in the country over the past cycle, and they’re on track to challenge for that accolade again in 2023.

And even with no commitment on the books for the following year, coach Cori Close and her staff are beginning to push to make it three in a row.

UCLA women’s basketball sent a scholarship offer to 2024 guard Morgan Cheli on Sunday, his high school team announced on Twitter. The rising Archbishop Mitty (CA) junior is a 6-foot-2 ball handler who fully burst onto the scene last season in high school.

Cheli had offers from Portland State, San Diego, USC, Cal and Stanford before Washington and UCLA joined after the start of the AAU spring season.

Cheli is not in espnW’s Terrific 25 for the Class of 2024, and there are no other widely used star ratings available to players who have not made this cut. But looking at his early offers and where they’re coming from, Cheli should settle in as a consensus four-star prospect once the Class of 2024 takes center stage.

A sophomore at Archbishop Mitty this season, Cheli averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.3 steals per game while leading the team to a 30-2 record and at CIFCCS Championships.

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Those numbers and the team’s overall performance helped Cheli earn a spot on SB Live’s Sophomore First Team All-State, as well as their All-NorCal First Team and All-State Second Team. Notably on SB Live’s All-State junior first team are guard Jada Williams – who is committed to UCLA – and post Breya Cunningham – who has UCLA as one of her two finalists – leaving Cheli in good company on the local recruitment track.

Cheli currently dresses for the Cal Stars on the Nike EYBL Tour, which has prompted several of his recent offers. Cunningham is also a member of Cal Stars, making a possible Bruin connection if the forward commits to UCLA.

Former Bruins starter Kelli Hayes is a potential role model for Cheli, considering Hayes was another 6-foot guard who went to Archbishop Mitty and played for the Cal Stars before appearing in 140 games at UCLA.

The Bruins had top prospects from all over the place, like five-star Michaela Onyenwere from Colorado, Chantel Horvat from Australia and Kiki Rice from Washington, DC. Still, the bulk of Close’s top recruits have come from California, including Jordin Canada, Monique Billings, Charisma Osborne and Gabriela Jaquez.

Jaquez and Rice will be juniors by the time Cheli enters his freshman year, and the Bruins could also boast a sophomore lineup of Williams and Cunningham. That young core, bolstered by Cheli or any other 2024 top contender like Me’Aarah O’Neal — daughter of Shaquille O’Neal — could give UCLA one of the highest-rated rosters in the nation.

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