Basketball Recruiting Update

We're a week away from the madness of the July evaluation period, when just about anything can happen. The following list will probably change dramatically, but here's a quick primer on UCLA's targets going into July...

Analyzing UCLA's needs for this recruiting class, UCLA has three scholarships to give for the year. The only variable that would affect that amount is whether Michael Fey enrolls at UCLA this fall. If he doesn't, then UCLA would have given only three scholarships for this fall and, according to the 5/8 rule, would then be allowed to give five scholarships for the next class. One scholarship already goes against the tally for next year's recruiting class, the one earmarked for Jon Crispin. So, it works out like this: If Fey makes it by fall, UCLA has three more available. If he doesn't enroll this fall, they have four. But, one of those scholarships would be earmarked for Fey himself, so more than likely UCLA will have only three more scholarships to give. Whether Jason Kapono goes pro after this next year, his junior year, or a player transfers, will be irrelevant since UCLA has to comply with the 5/8 rule.

It's evident UCLA is in the market for a post player and a shooting guard. I think, given the situation with Mike Fey, that they need to bring in a post player. A shooting guard – someone in the 6-3ish range who can light it up and defend smaller guards – is also vital since the projected roster over the next couple of years is stocked with bigger, 6-6ish players. After that, I believe UCLA will only use the third scholarship if they can get an elite player with it. If not, it would be smart to hold it for the high school rising junior class.

Main Targets (Guys UCLA Would Take Regardless):

Bracey Wright, 6-4 SG The Colony (Tex.) High. Top 20 national player, UCLA was doing well with him but now seems to be in the middle of his pack, with Indiana leading. If the Bruins can get him to hold off committing to Indiana and at least get him on campus for an early unofficial visit or an official visit in September, things could turn in favor of the Bruins.

Kelenna Azubuike 6-6 SG/SF, Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian. A top 30 or so national player who might become UCLA's primary target if they can't get Wright. He's pretty big and actually might not be the puzzle piece UCLA needs, but he's so talented that you'd take him anyway. He had indicated earlier that he might consider going pro out of high school.

Erazem Lorbek, 6-9 PF, Slovenia. The primary big man target for UCLA, scouting reports say he has great skills inside and out. The most recent talk is that he's now UCLA's to lose, it's just a matter of getting his academics cleared, which is always a hurdle with foreign players.

Evan Burns, 6-6 SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. The word is that, if he qualifies academically, he will go to UCLA. At least right now that's the word. Arizona is staying on him pretty solidily, as are many other schools. So much is going to happen between now and when Burns makes his ultimate decision. It could be spring. Burns, though, is going to spend a great deal of the summer in school, and is seemingly going to make an effort to get qualified. The question will be in fall whether UCLA would accept a signed NLI in or a verbal commitment (along the same lines as what Andre Patterson did last year), risking whether he'll qualify or opt to go pro in the spring. If they took a commitment, either a NLI or a verbal, in fall, it would obviously preclude them from taking someone else, which could hurt UCLA if Burns didn't qualify or opted to go pro in spring. But with someone as talented as Burns, it'd be unprecedented and almost inconceivable not to accept a commitment from him if he wanted to give one.

The 1-A List:

Marcus White, 6-8 PF Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young. Nationally-recruited player that has listed UCLA and UCLA is recruiting. The Bruins will try to use its Chicago connection through T.J. Cummings. White is a big, true power-forward type.

Kevin Bookout, 6-8 PF, Stroud (Okla.) High. One of the best all-around athletes in the country, he probably belongs on the other list – that is, if he wanted to commit, you'd take him. He's a skilled basketball player and a great rebounder, but is also very athletic and can run the floor. Being one of the best track prospects in the country, he would be a great asset to the entire UCLA AD. Did I mention his 4.0 GPA? It looks like it will be hard to get him away from Oklahoma, where his brothers have attended.

Hassan Adams, 6-3 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. One of the best guards in the west, Adams is good at many things but not really superior at any one thing. He could, though, end up a better player than someone like Bracey Wright since Adams can handle and pass the ball really well, and has the capability to be a better all-around player. UCLA is starting to get on Adams, and if he looks really good this July, you can expect them to pull out all the stops. Reportedly, he's a good student.

The Next Tier:

Moulaye Niang, 6-10 C, El Cajon (Calif.) Christian. Niang has some great potential, getting bigger and better every month. He doesn't have a great natural feel for the game, but is one of the quickest big men around, with great feet and very good hands. He's a hard worker, and is working hard on developing a post-up game. If he looks good this summer, he could be a guy UCLA moves on if Lorbek falls through. Heck, if he looks good, they could move on him anyway. He reportedly is a good student.

Ashanti Cook, 6-1 PG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. A real hidden gem, Cook is one of the most under-rated players on the west coast. He plays on a loaded Westchester team where there simply aren't enough balls to go around. But he has good size, great athleticism, good ball-handling and his shooting and scoring skills are getting better and better. UCLA called him the first day they could make calls and will definitely be watching him this July. If they determine that he's as good as any of the point guards in the rising junior class, UCLA could opt just to take Cook, benefitting by getting him in the program a year earlier than a rising junior point guard.

Antwan Wright, 6-6 SG/SF, Lawrence (Mass.) Lawrence Academy. Talent-wise, he deserves to be on the top list. Wright is originally from San Bernardino but has been at the east coast prep school since he was a freshman. If he were on the west coast, he'd be the second-rated small forward behind Evan Burns. He can shoot, score, put the ball on the floor, slash to the basket, and is quick and agile enough to guard players smaller than he. UCLA will watch him in July and if they like what they see, they could go hard after him. He said UCLA was his favorite school growing up, but now lists Texas A & M, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, USC and Miami.

Bobby Jones, 6-6 SF, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Jones is a long-armed athlete and probably the best defender on the west coast, regardless of position. He's great in transition, but his offense is pretty undeveloped. He has indicated recently that he likes UCLA, while USC and Wyoming have offered. A good student.

Reggie Butler, 6-5 SF, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. A player most likely to explode this July and climb up national rankings, Butler is an elite athlete with some extreme hops and quickness. He has continued to improve the rest of his game, including his shot, his ball-handling and passing. He still doesn't play much defense, though. Butler is getting recruited by UCLA-committed football/basketball player Marcedes Lewis, and Butler likes UCLA along with Maryland and a couple of others. Academics might be the question with Butler.

Armando Surratt, 5-9 PG, Oakland (Calif.) Tech. Speaking of academics, it's what could potentially keep Surratt from being recruited by high majors across the country. The quickest, fastest point guard in the west who is now starting to put his entire game together – penetrating, dishing, shooting, the whole works – Surratt has said he likes UCLA. But even if Surratt barely qualifies by NCAA standards, UCLA might not be able to take him if they take another academically-marginal player that they covet more.

CJ Watson, 6-1 PG, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. A good, all-around guard, Watson doesn't do one thing spectacularly, but does everything solidly. With the commitment of Jon Crispin, it makes it highly unlikely UCLA would be able to take a point guard the caliber of Watson. If he plays out of his mind this summer, it's a different story. A good student.

Keion Kindred, 6-2 PG, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Another point guard that UCLA might not have the luxury to take given its scholarship limitations. Kindred has a great body, but it's also unclear exactly what position he will play in college since he's not a true point – but he's not a true anything. A good student.

Brandon Bowman, 6-6 SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Athletic and quick for his size, Bowman is on UCLA's to-watch list. New Mexico and Virginia have offered. It's unlikely UCLA would get to him, and reports are that he could be borderline academically.

Brandon Roy, 6-5 SF/SG, Seattle (Wash.) Garfield. Probably best first step on the west coast, a top 40 national player potentially, and lists UCLA among top four. Some problems here, though: He doesn't really fill UCLA's need, Arizona will go hard after him, and he will struggle to qualify.


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