Thoughts on Hoops

It's been a busy spring so far for the UCLA hoops program. And it's not over. There are two assistant positions to fill and even a bit of a possibility of some high-profile spring recruits. Here's how it all stands right now...

As we reported here first on BRO, Jamie Dixon, Ben Howland's #1 assistant at Pittsburgh, will be hired as its next head coach.


UCLA announced that Ernie Ziegler, the #3 assistant at Pittsburgh under Howland, has been hired at UCLA.  The #2 assistant, Barry Rohrrsen, has opted to remain at Pitt with Dixon.


That leaves two assistant positions to fill.


Some names that have been thrown around as potential candidates are Kerry Keating, the #1 assistant at Tennessee; Marvin Menzies, an assistant at San Diego State, and former North Carolina assistant Doug Wojcik.  It would also be interesting if Todd Lee, the #1 assistant under Pat Douglass at UC Irvine and a coach well respected by UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, would be considered. 


On the possible transfer situation concerning KU signees David Padgett and Omar Wilkes: When we here at BRO laid out the potential fantasy scenario of this potentially happening recently, we said the main hurdle was Roy Williams taking the job at North Carolina. So, the main hurdle has been cleared. But there are a number of hurdles that would still have to be negotiated before the finish line.  It's unlikely that Padgett or Wilkes would make any decisions until they know who the new coach at Kansas will be. Kansas could take some time in hiring its new coach, so the fate of Padgett and Wilkes could be held up in that process.  If, after KU hires its new coach, and Padgett and Wilkes don't want to attend KU, they would need to get their release from the school.  Getting a release under these circumstances means that the NCAA has to grant it, but the NCAA commonly goes by the school's recommendation.  So, it could very well depend on whether KU would allow Padgett and Wilkes out of their National Letters of Intent.  It seems unlikely that they wouldn't ultimately, but it's also common for schools to make that process difficult for recruits in this position.  However, if the school refused to endorse their releases, they would be taking on two fairly high-profile and active parents in David's father, Pete, and Omar's father, Jamaal.


If it gets this far, and both are allowed out of their NLIs, you would think that UCLA might be in the mix for the two.  Wilkes, of course, is a UCLA legacy and has wanted to go to UCLA his entire life.  We know that the Padgett family was very fond of UCLA.  If the coaching situation at UCLA had been different in recent years, it's not a stretch to say that both would have committed to the Bruins. 


With Ben Howland now as UCLA's head coach, it very well could give UCLA the final piece to the puzzle that Wilkes and Padgett need to become Bruins.


With the loss of sophomore forward Andre Patterson to academics, his scholarship would be used for one of either Padgett or Wilkes. But to take both, UCLA would also need one more scholarship to open up by next fall.  There are any number of possibilities of a scholarship opening up by next fall, and it's thought that if Padgett and Wilkes wanted to come to UCLA, the other scholarship would be available.


With the verbal commitment of Arron Afflalo to UCLA, UCLA would still need an elite point guard from the high school class of 2004.  To pull off this bit of a dream scenario – that is, UCLA gets Padgett and Wilkes by next fall, and then Afflalo and an elite point guard by fall 2004 – the scholarship situation is tricky.


For Wilkes and Padgett to come to UCLA, UCLA would only need a scholarship for next fall to open up.  But if it's the scholarship of T.J. Cummings, who could leave for the NBA, that would essentially take the scholarship that is earmarked for a point guard recruit in the 2004 class.  So, either another scholarship from a non-senior from next year (meaning – not Cummings or Jon Crispin) would have to open up, or a combination of a senior scholarship and another non-senior scholarship. 


Again, this is all a great deal of speculation.  The scenario that brings both Padgett and Wilkes to UCLA is one fraught with quite a few more obstacles. 


But if it did develop, the scholarship situation isn't one that is beyond manageable.  It's very likely that UCLA would be able to have enough scholarships to accomodate Padgett, Wilkes, Afflalo and a point guard from the 2004 class. If UCLA did get these four prospects, it would be considered precisely the type of personnel UCLA needs to bring in. 


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