2011 Basketball Recruiting Update

It's the nature of recruiting that the outlook can turn so quickly. Last week UCLA looked like it was on the verge of getting commitments from its backcourt of the future, but now recruits are dwindling...

UCLA basketball recruiting for 2010 took a considerable hit when Josiah Turner, the elite point guard from Sacramento (Calif.) High, verbally committed to Arizona Sunday.

Turner had just taken an official visit to Arizona, after having taken one the previous weekend to UCLA.

From what we've heard, Turner had indicated to UCLA that he was coming to Westwood, but obviously his trip to Arizona sealed the deal for the Wildcats.

UCLA's recruitment of Turner was a bit of a topsy turvy one. UCLA had been on him very early, but as a sophomore he was offered a scholarship by ASU and verbally committed to the Sun Devils. Not long after, he de-committed and opened up his recruitment, and received national recruiting attention as big-named programs recognized his talent. UCLA then began recruiting Turner again. But during his junior year the Bruins held off some in their recruitment since there were reports that Turner's academics would preclude him from qualifying academically. In spring, however, it was discovered his academics were within the realm of acceptability for NCAA eligibility, but by that time UCLA was then playing catch-up to programs like Arizona and Kansas. UCLA hired assistant coach Phil Mathews in spring, and he quickly brought UCLA back from Siberia in terms of Turner's recruitment. Turner, with little attention from UCLA, had stopped considering the Bruins, but Mathews came close to completely salvaging the recruitment when it appeared Turner would end up a Bruin, until this last week.

Of course, it's impossible to speculate how the recruitment might have been different if UCLA had been consistent in its attention toward Turner. And not that you can necessarily believe everything you read on the Internet, but Doris Ward, Turner's mother, told PointGuardU.com (an Arizona fan site) last week after her son's official visit to UCLA that "UCLA has been wishy-washy. One moment they are hot on Josiah and then they cool off. I think there is a good chance Josiah could play at Arizona."

As we said, missing on Turner is a considerable blow for the Bruins. Recruiting a high-level point guard is clearly UCLA's most pressing need currently. This upcoming season Jerime Anderson and JC transfer Lazeric Jones will be juniors, which makes them seniors in the 2011-2012 season. If UCLA secured a 2011 point guard he would be a freshman when Anderson and Jones are seniors. If UCLA doesn't get a 2011 point guard, a point guard from the 2012 class would be a true freshman for the 2012-13 class and the only point guard on the roster.

Point guard recruiting for 2011 is especially urgent since the 2012 class in the west – and in the nation, for that matter – is a bit thin on point guards. The 2012 class in the west is one of the most talented in recent memory but, naturally, not at the point guard position.

But point guard recruiting for 2011 now doesn't necessarily look promising. UCLA turns its focus to Quinn Cook, the highly-ranked prospect from Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill, and will pick up its recruitment of Jabarie Hinds, the 5-11, 150-pounder from Mount Vernon (New York) High. Both are situations where UCLA isn't necessarily in a position of strength.

It doesn't look very good for Cook . A long-time Duke fan, with his god brother being Nolan Smith, the current Duke senior, Cook seems destined for the Blue Devils now that it appears they have offered him a scholarship. Cook spent the weekend on an unofficial weekend to Durham and will return in two weeks on an official visit, and it's believed he'll commit to Duke at least by then.

He has yet to schedule an official visit to UCLA.

Hinds is a prospect UCLA has been recruiting since July, when they saw him in tournaments back east. The Bruins hadn't offered Hinds as of last week, and we haven't heard whether they have now, but it's fairly likely that, after Turner's commitment to Arizona and with the relationship between Duke and Cook heating up, the Bruins have or will offer Hinds soon.

Hinds, who is the 13th-ranked point guard in the nation, just took an official visit to UNLV. There are plans for Hinds to officially visit UCLA this coming weekend, and he also plans to also officially visit Connecticut and West Virginia.

UCLA is getting in on Hinds fairly late, but it's thought that they'll have a fairly good shot with him.

At this time, we haven't heard about any other options at point guard in the 2011 class. If UCLA misses with Cook and Hinds, it's believed that they'll continue to look across the nation for any other options that could present itself by next spring, including any JC possibilities.

There is also Spencer Dinwiddie, the 6-4 prospect from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. UCLA had stopped recruiting Dinwiddie, and he has said he's moved on to other programs, and it's uncertain if UCLA would pursue Dinwiddie at this time.

UCLA got some more bad news in recruiting this week when Patrick Connaughton, the 6-5 wing from Danvers (Mass.) St. John's Prep, verbally committed to Notre Dame. UCLA had gotten on Connaughton toward the end of July after seeing him in some tournaments back east, and he was planning to visit UCLA officially this weekend. But he committed on his official visit to South Bend last Saturday.

So, 2011 prospects are dwindling. UCLA ideally wanted to sign three recruits – a point guard, shooting guard and a wing-type, but the possibilities are running low.

One of UCLA's prime targets has been Norman Powell, the 6-2 shooting guard from San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln, an elite prospect that it's believed has been close to committing to UCLA for a while. He attended UCLA's football game against Stanford on September 11th, and had, the week before, said a commitment was coming "next week." All we've heard is that UCLA is the clear leader for Powell but until he verbally commits the delay in making the decision is a bit of cause for concern. But the thought is that Powell could commit on his UCLA in-home visit, which hasn't been planned to our knowledge.

There isn't currently a plan for Powell to visit UCLA officially. He is taking an SAT prep course on Saturdays for the near future.

Howland had an in-home visit last week with Adonis Thomas, the 6-6 small forward from Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose, who is the #9-ranked player in the nation. UCLA isn't considered a favorite for Thomas, but the Bruins will get an official visit October 2nd. He visited Tennessee the weekend of September 11th, and also plans to visit Arkansas September 24th, Florida October 9th and Memphis October 15th.

UCLA is also pursuing Rodney Hood, the 6-7 small forward from Meridian (Miss.) High. Mississippi State and Georgia Tech are players, while he officially visited Alabama September 11th and Florida State last weekend. UCLA got on Hood late, in July, and they're considered a long shot for him.

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