Notebook: Bold Bruins

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

UCLA has jumpstart on 2016 class

While UCLA is still working on recruiting several small forwards and posts to add to its committed 2015 backcourt of North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall point guard Aaron Holiday and Weston (Fla.) Sagemont Upper School shooting guard Prince Ali, the Bruins staff has plenty more time to complete that same objective in 2016.

UCLA has early commitments from Chino Hills (Calif.) point guard Lonzo Ball (pictured above) and Los Angeles Cathedral shooting guard Kobe Paras, which means Steve Alford and company can focus on building the class around them.

For now, UCLA is hoping to land two more players in 2016.

The target list includes small forward Josh Jackson — a player whom UCLA wouldn't be able to turn down should he want to commit — along with power forwards T.J. Leaf and Nick Rakocevic.

The Bruins have several center targets, including Udoka Azubuike, M.J. Cage, Zach Collins, Omari Spellman, Isaac Humphries and De'Ron Davis.

If the Bruins can land a couple players from that aforementioned group, the UCLA staff would be happy heading into 2017.

— Josh Gershon

Who will get ball rolling in 2016?

One thing that could be interesting to watch coming up over the next few months is which prospect or prospects really get the ball rolling in terms of commitments in the 2016 class. Right now a lot of the top kids in the class are making unofficial visits and really look to be focusing on their recruitment and what they like, though to date not too much has transpired in terms of commitments.

Usually in recruiting it only takes a few kids to start committing and then others tend to follow and make their choice either because an opportunity has dried up, they don't want to drag it out any longer, or they just feel it is the right time. Prospects such as T.J. Leaf have indicated in the past that they don't expect to have a long and drawn out recruitment, and recently he visited Florida and soon he will check out Arizona again. So maybe he is one who will get things going with an earlier pledge.

Then in the Midwest you have prospects such as Joey Brunk who have already made several visits with others coming up, or Nick Ward who seems to really be focused in on a few schools.

Overall there is no way to know for sure when kids in the 2016 class will really start making their decisions or at what rate it will happen, but with so many of them making multiple visits this early in the process to the same schools it will indeed be interesting to see when and who initiates that process.

— Brian Snow

Manning off to strong start

Danny Manning has Wake Forest headed in the right direction.

The former Kansas and NBA standout took over at Wake Forest in early April. Fast forward to mid-October – just a month from National Signing Day – and Manning has secured three players that can help turn his program.

Over the weekend, Manning and his staff reeled in a commitment from 6-foot-9 forward John Collins. The somewhat under-the-radar post player may not be ranked, but he’s certainly a player that will give them quality minutes.

Collins possesses polished interior scoring tools

At his size, Collins has good hands and touch around the goal. He’s capable scorer with his back to the rim, but also facing it, as he can consistently make mid-range jump shots. Collins was one of the last players outside of’s post-July top 100.

Collins joins Doral Moore (No. 76) and Bryant Crawford (No. 83) to make up Wake Forest’s current recruiting class. The two top 100 prospects will be relied on to contribute early in their careers.

Moore, who stands 6-foot-11, has tremendous upside. He’s mobile, has good hands and shows flashes of what he can do on both offense and defense. The next step is playing with consistency and toughness. Manning has had plenty of success developing post players, so from the outside looking in it appears to be a good decision by Moore.

The Demon Deacons needed a lead guard in 2015 and Crawford,’s No. 9 ranked point guard, is whom they targeted. He has impressive physical gifts, plays well in transition and has good vision.

— Evan Daniels

Young pups already have teeth

We discussed in last week's Roundtable the strength of the Class of 2016, but the 2017 crop appears very promising as well.

At the top, DeAndre Ayton already has had success against college players and may be one of those rare prospects who holds down the No. 1 ranking from wire to wire. The big man holds immense talent and gives the class a potential star atop the rankings.

Then there's versatile Las Vegas guard Troy Brown, already a prime target of Arizona, Duke, Louisville and others. Massive Miami center Zach Brown checks in at No. 3, and over the past six months Missouri forward Michael Porter consistently has made jaws drop.

These guys already are impressing versus national, older competition, so they're quickly erasing the standard question marks that arise when young players dominate only the younger age divisions.

Wing D.J. Harvey could be on the rise as well, given his recent play at USA Basketball and the John Lucas Midwest Invitational. Slick athlete and passer Jalek Felton is another who has turned heads in the past few weeks, and thus one already can foresee a loaded national top 10.

And they're only sophomores. We'll have to monitor how these guys and their peers develop, obviously, but it appears after a so-so 2015 class, 2016 and 2017 could boast a powerful punch.

— Rob Harrington

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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