There are some considerable developments, in the recruitment of the 2012 class, and even in the 2011 class.
UCLA has one scholarship to give for the 2011-2012 season and, as it's been the case in the past, Head Coach Ben Howland wants to fill it. We've heard that there is a player UCLA is considering signing, a wing, but a few details would have to be worked out for it to happen. When we can reveal more, we will.
The biggest development is the impending hiring of Korey McCray, a coach with the AAU team, the Atlanta Celtics, as a UCLA assistant coach. We've heard it is a done deal.
This move will change, and has changed, the entire landscape of UCLA recruiting. McCray's connections and ties with players are extensive, and there are now many elite 2012 recruits interested in UCLA as a result.
As of right now, UCLA has one scholarship open, and then two will open up after next season. So, currently, UCLA has three scholarships to give the 2012 class (that is, of course, if they don't fill the scholarship that's currently open with the 2011 prospect we referred to above).
We anticipate, though, that UCLA will have more scholarships available to give to the 2012 class, through some kind of attrition, possibly transfers, someone leaving early, etc. UCLA might very well have four, or even five scholarships, to give to the 2012 class, and we believe the Bruin coaching staff is recruiting the 2012 class with that mindset, even if they might not know if they have an additional one or two scholarships available until next spring. If they actually did have five to give they would ideally like to get a point guard, two wings, a power forward and center. If they only give out four, it would probably be for certain a point guard, a wing, a center and the best recruit regardless of position who wants to jump in the boat.
A little over a month ago we listed the "Big Six" in UCLA's 2012 recruiting, but that list has expanded, mostly because of the ties to McCray.
So, here is the updated, expanded list (national ranking is in parentheses):
(#3) Shabazz Muhammad, 6-5 SF/SG, Las Vegas (Nev ) Bishop Gorman. We've reported that UCLA is doing well with Muhammad, and probably leading for him. We reported, too, that he could potentially be one of those Pied Piper of recruits, a guy who leads others to the school to play with him, and we've come to be pretty certain that this is the case. Perhaps Muhammad's most significant talent is the heart, desire and effort he brings to the court. Greg Hicks said that Muhammad is such a huge recruit because it isn't very common that the best player on your team is also the one who will always play his ass off. Muhammad is not only a potential recruiting Pied Piper, but potentially a guy who can really help to permanently change back UCLA's culture under Howland to one of players who play hard.
(#5) Brandon Ashley, 6-8 PF, Oakland (Calif ) Bishop O'Dowd. UCLA had some ground to make up since Ashley's AAU team is the Oakland Soldiers, the same as former UCLA player Drew Gordon. UCLA assistant coach Phil Mathews did a great job of repairing the relationship with the Soldiers when he recruited Josiah Turner, and he's continuing to do a good job while recruiting Ashley. What could really benefit UCLA is that Grant Jerrett, the other elite power forward in the west for 2012, has already committed to Arizona, and the Wildcats got a commitment from 2011 post Angelo Chol. It was believed that Ashley had been favoring Arizona, and even though the word is still that he remains an Arizona lean, it will be interesting to see if he thinks the frontcourt is getting crowded in Tucson. If Ashley came to UCLA, there wouldn't be a power forward in the program younger than a junior, and there are some definite pure fives on the roster, like Smith and Anthony Stover, so Ashley wouldn't ever be forced into playing the five like at some programs who don't have a true center. From what we hear, UCLA, because of all of these factors, is doing better with Ashley. Howland usually never goes out to watch recruits outside of the Los Angeles area during the college basketball season, but he went up to the Bay Area at least a couple of times last season to see Ashley. He's done it for Muhammad and Ashley, knowing how significant both of these recruits are.
(#13) L.J. Rose, 6-1 PG, Houston (Tex ) Second Baptist. Rose is currently the #2 point guard in the nation, and sources are indicating UCLA is doing well with him. He is friends with Muhammad, and played in an event called the All-American Championship during Final Four weekend in Houston, playing on the same team as Muhammad and UCLA-committed senior Norman Powell. Rose has ties to the L A area, and potentially coming to Los Angeles from his hometown of Houston isn't that big of a stretch (compared to, say, Quinn Cook coming all the way from the east coast). Right now Rose is clearly UCLA's #1 priority at point guard.
(#21) Kyle Anderson, 6-7, Jersey City (New Jersey) St Anthony's. Considered an elite national prospect, he's so good with the ball many consider him a point guard. He has visited UCLA unofficially, and there is a connection with Muhammad (all the kids talk) so the Bruins will have shot. From what we've heard, UCLA has made Anderson a primary target, so it will be interesting to see if distance is a factor.
(#22) D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, 6-3 CG, Indianapolis (Ind ) North Central. One of the handful of the best scoring guards in the country, we've heard the Bruins have a legit shot for him. UCLA is recruiting him primarily as a point guard, even though he's listed as a shooting guard by many scouts.
(#28) Jordan Adams, 6-5 SF, Mouth of Wilson (Virg ) Oak Hill. It's funny how these kids meet up on the AAU circuit. From what we've heard Adams is close with a few other names on this list. He's a big, strong, physical kid – just the type Howland likes – who can shoot, which is also what Howland likes. McCray's ties will greatly enhance Adams' recruitment. In fact, we've heard that Adams had previously intended to verbally commit to UCLA in June, but then backed away from that to a certain extent. There is a plan for him to take an unofficial visit to UCLA in June, and he very well could verbally commit on that visit.
(#38) William Goodwin, 6-7 PF, Decatur (Georgia) Southwest Dekalb. Goodwin plays for the Atlanta Celtics, so he's now interested in UCLA, and is close with Adams. He is considered a superior athlete and talent, and the recent word we've heard is that the Bruins have legit chance with him.
(#39) Tony Parker, 6-8 C, Lithonia (Georgia) Miller Grove. He's a big, physical, athletic player, being a well-put-together 255 pounds. He's just not a big body, possesses a nice, developing post game. Playing with the Atlanta Celtics, with the news circulating about McCray coming to UCLA, Parker has indicated he'd be interested in the Bruins.
Xavier Johnson, 6-6 SF, Santa Ana (Calif ) Mater Dei. It's a significant oversight that Johnson didn't make the Scout com top 75, but we're pretty confident, after a very good junior year and what we would anticipate will be a good spring and summer, he'll easily make it onto the list by August. Johnson is close with Muhammad, and they've talked publicly about playing together in college.
(#59) Damien Wilson, 6-4 SF, Mouth of Wilson (Virg ) Oak Hill. Another kid with a McCray/Atlanta Celtics connection, Wilson is talented – a slasher type who is very athletic. He has said he'll visit UCLA in June with Adams.
(#60) Robert Upshaw, 6-11, Fresno (Calif ) Edison. He's the best true center prospect in the west, and with the way he played so far this April in AAU events he might end up among the best in the country. He has always been gawky, but this spring he's starting to realize his potential, showing some skill and quickness off the floor. He still has a long ways to go, but when he out-played the #1 player in the country, center Andre Drummond, in a recent tournament game, it appears that he's not that far off. He now plays for Dream Vision, Muhammad's AAU team, which helps UCLA considerably. UCLA has offered and is showing him a good deal of interest. He's been on UCLA's campus, to UCLA's camp, and the word is that UCLA is probably the leader for him.
Tyrone Wallace, 6-4 CG, Bakersfield (Calif ) High. He's a long 6-4 with great vision and passing ability. He has a wing's body and could get bigger, even though he has a point guard's approach to the game. His shooting has improved, and his game has continued to develop to the point that UCLA is now showing Wallace a great deal of love. Wallace has said previously that UCLA is his favorite, and if the Bruins offered they'd be hard to beat. By the end of summer he might look better than many of the higher ranked guards on this list and UCLA could very well offer him at that point.
Arnaud Moto, 6-6 SF, Alexandria (Virg ) Episcopal. Originally from Cameroon, UCLA's connection with Cameroon have helped get UCLA started with Moto, who is beginning to blow up this spring, and UCLA likes him. He can shoot, and score, and is a physical, athletic specimen.
Richard Longrus, 6-6, Oakland (Calif ) Bishop O'Dowd. A player with some considerable upside. Offensively still very raw, but has the athleticism to guard multiple positions. UCLA has verbally offered Longrus.
(#72) James Robinson, 6-2 PG, Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha Catholic. UCLA is trying with him, but we're skeptical that ultimately they'll have a chance.
Skylar Spencer, 6-7 PF, Los Angeles Price. A long, nice athlete who is a good defender and shot blocker at this point, and has great upside.
Grant Verhoeven, 6-9 C, Visalia (Calif ) Central Valley Christian. Probably not quite at UCLA's level just yet, but has improved, and if he continues to improve he could be. Fundamentally sound and skilled.
Javan Felix, 5-11 PG, New Orleans (Louis ) St Augustine. An emerging talent who is starting to collect scholarship offers, from Baylor, Oklahoma State, LSU, Alabama, Butler, Ole Miss and Tulane. UCLA has started to recruit Felix, and many more national programs are starting to take notice of him. It wouldn't hurt, either, that Felix's AAU teammate is one of the best 2014 prospecs in the nation, Craig Victor.
Gabe York, 6-2 SG, Orange (Calif ) Lutheran. He can score, and York had a big-scoring April, which has gotten him a great deal of attention. He is now trying to be a point guard, even though he's a shooting guard by nature. UCLA is scouting and in touch with him.
Calaen Robinson, 6-2 PG, Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol. Definitely a guy UCLA could look at seriously, Robinson is a lead-type guard, not a true point, who can definitely shoot and score, and has the athletic ability to be a good defender. Arizona State and St. Mary's have offered, but the word is that he'd highly favor UCLA if the Bruins offered him.
Ryan Wright, 6-5 SF, Palmdale (Calif ) High. A nice, well-put-together athlete who is probably a mid-major four man.
Jordan Tebbutt, 6-5 SF, Tualatin (Ore ) High. Another well-put-together player who can shoot from the outside, but could also end up being a four man.
Victor Robbins, 6-4 SG/SF, Compton (Calif ) High. A decent body with good skills, Robbins is one of the best scorers in the west. He came to UCLA's camp.