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UCLA adds versatile forward Chris Smith to its recruiting class

UCLA added what is likely the final piece of its celebrated recruiting class Wednesday when Chris Smith signed a letter of intent, making him the sixth newcomer headed to Westwood next season.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep picked the Bruins over a slew of other suitors who pursued him once he reclassified into the class of 2017 earlier this year. He said he could play and defend every position from point guard to power forward.

“He’s a versatile player with great length who can play on the wing and excel as a power forward,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by the school. “He has shown that he can handle, pass and shoot the ball, which fits perfectly to our style. Chris has an opportunity to make an impact from the start, and we’re looking forward to having him here this summer.”

Smith attended UCLA’s comeback victory over Oregon in February and said he was attracted to the Bruins’ up-tempo style.

“I told Coach [Alford] that I really liked how everybody touched the ball, everybody moved the ball and they got up and down the court,” Smith recently told The Times, “and he said nothing’s going to change.”

Josh Gershon, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said Smith might be a candidate to redshirt next season as he continues to develop but that he holds strong potential.

“He’s a kid with a lot of upside and someone who’s a smart take given what he could be down the road,” Gershon said.

UCLA’s freshman class, ranked No. 2 nationally by Scout.com, ESPN.com and Rivals.com, also includes point guard Jaylen Hands and small forward Kris Wilkes, who were both McDonald’s All-Americans; power forwards Cody Riley and Jalen Hill; and shooting guard LiAngelo Ball.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch