UCLA Recruits at Nike EYBL

Since we only saw them for one weekend and in limited viewings, we can't call them evaluations. But here are our impressions of the many UCLA out-of-state prospects that were in town for the Nike EYBL over the weekend, including Arnaud Adala Moto, L.J. Rose and William Goodwin...

The EYBL event held over Memorial Day Weekend in Los Angeles offered me an opportunity to see several potential Bruin recruits that I had not previously seen. As I have said in the past, it's very difficult to evaluate players in limited viewings. With the exception of a couple West Coast players, I haven't seen these guys with their high school teams. Unlike the West Coast kids, I haven't seen these prospects come up from the ninth grade (sometimes even earlier) and I don't know their history of development.

However, Tracy asked me to take a look at the guys UCLA is recruiting and offer my thoughts based on what I saw over the weekend. So what follows should not be mistaken for a scouting report. It's not close to comprehensive and it's merely my thoughts based on what I saw this past weekend. However, that caveat does not mean that I'm only reporting on how a prospect "played" this weekend. I'm not a performance scout. I don't like, or dislike, a prospect based on the number of points he scores/doesn't score. Some things, like body type, don't change from weekend to weekend. So while this isn't a comprehensive scouting report, it's also not just a report about how well, or poorly, a prospect played over the weekend.

With those caveats in mind, here are my thoughts on the players I saw over the weekend.

Brandon Ashley, 6-8 SR PF Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. Ashley has long been viewed as a player with a very high ceiling and this weekend was a coming out party for him. No longer just a player with great length and athleticism, he's now showing considerable skill development. He's now regularly knocking down shots out to 15-17 feet and his stroke looks very smooth. His ball skills overall are much improved. He can face up and take someone off the dribble and he even made a couple nice plays taking the ball in transition and making good decisions. He played with very good energy at both ends of the court, rebounding everything in his area and doing a great job on defense. While he's still not physically mature, he has gotten stronger and that has made a big difference in his game. He finished strong inside against bigger players and he was very aggressive. His agility is unique for a kid his size, along with his ability to play both on the perimeter and in the paint. Assuming continued development, it's unlikely that he plays more than a year in college.

Richard Longrus, 6-6 SR PF/SF Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. I don't know if the Bruins will end up having enough scholarships to take a guy like Longrus, but he would be a great role player. He's got a great frame, with good athleticism, and he's an excellent rebounder and passer. He's not a big scorer, but he doesn't need to be in order to help a team win. He does all the little things to help his team and he plays unselfishly. Lorenzo Mata, Alfred Aboya and Mike Roll weren't elite prospects out of high school, but they made big contributions to the Bruin's Final Four teams. I think Longrus could be that kind of player if given the opportunity.

Arnaud Adala Moto, 6-5 SR SF Alexandria (Virg.) Episcopal School. After Ashley, Moto was by far my favorite prospect at the event. A skilled Cameroonian (if that phrase doesn't excite a Bruin fan, I don't know what will), Moto has a great body, with long arms, above average athleticism and an outstanding feel for the game. He's got a very nice stroke to the stripe and he was knocking down shots all weekend. But he also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and finish inside against size. He's a good passer and very unselfish – I didn't see him take a single bad shot all weekend. In fact, he made very few bad decisions at all. While he doesn't play with quite the same crazy energy that Mbah a Moute did (the freshman Luc, not the junior Luc), he plays hard and he's a good defender. He also showed an understanding for the subtleties of the game that you don't see from many Africans. There was no nonsense to his game at all – he just went out and played his butt off all weekend (his coach described him as a great kid and teammate). Typically when I'm asked by fans what players I think UCLA should take in a class, my response is "I don't know, I haven't seen everyone and it depends on who they can get." But in this case, I don't need to see everyone else. Assuming there are no issues that I'm unaware of, this kid has to get an offer from UCLA.

Tony Parker, 6-7 SR C Lithonia (Georgia) Miller Grove. I'm not sure that UCLA has a real shot with Parker, but he would be a great addition if they could somehow pull it off. He's a beast inside, with quick feet, good hands and a nasty attitude. He doesn't do a lot outside of ten feet, but he doesn't need to in order to be effective. He just dunks on your head and then blocks your shot at the other end of the court. He's a no-brainer if the Bruins can find a way to get him to Westwood.

L.J. Rose, 6-1 SR PG Houston (Tex.) Westbury Christian. Rose is a true point guard with excellent vision and terrific passing ability. He plays unselfishly and consistently finds open teammates. He's also got a nice stroke and, while it's a bit of a set shot, he does appear to be a pretty accurate shooter. He's got a decent body, but appears to be just a fair athlete. I was told that he's still recovering from an injury suffered a while back and that he used to be quicker than he is now. If that's true, and he is quicker than he was this weekend, that's a big factor in his favor. Because the biggest question I saw with him was his quickness/overall athleticism. He doesn't appear to be very explosive and his ability to both contain, and go by, high level athletes is an open question. He's definitely good enough to play at UCLA. Whether there is enough physical upside for him to be a very good player at the high major level remains to be seen. However, I was impressed with his skill level, his approach to the game and his overall feel.

William Goodwin, 6-7 SR PF Decatur (Georgia) SW Dekalb. A big, strong kid with a young face and great body, Goodwin certainly looks the part of a power forward. He plays hard and he's willing to be physical. But he seemed a bit stiff and his low post game needs a lot of work. He lacked touch around the basket and didn't show much footwork at all. I didn't think he had great feet and his hands were just fair. However, he did show a nice touch on one three-pointer he made. He didn't appear to be a great athlete. But one scout noted that he didn't appear to be as explosive as usual, so perhaps I saw him on a bad weekend. He's definitely a high major prospect but, based on what I saw this particular weekend, there would appear to be a huge gap between him and Brandon Ashley.

James Robinson, 6-1 SR PG Hyattsville (Mary.) DeMatha. Robinson has a strong body, he's fairly athletic and he plays hard. He appeared to be a fairly good passer, but I don't think I saw him take a jump shot all weekend. He's surprisingly effective scoring inside, where he likes to use his strength to over-power defenders. He's a solid player, but I don't see him at UCLA's level.

Kyle Anderson, 6-7 SR PF Jersey City (New Jersey) St. Anthony. Anderson is a very difficult prospect to project at the next level. On his club team, he basically plays point guard and dominates the ball. He's a good passer, and he handles fairly well for a kid his size, but he's not a point guard. He's got just a fair body, with little muscle tone and very little athleticism. So the idea of him defending a power forward at the next level seems a bit of a stretch. A lot of what he does in an AAU game – dominating the ball, dribbling a lot and trying to make his way to the basket – doesn't play at the college level. He's got a decent shot, although the stroke is a bit long. On this particular weekend, he didn't appear to be a really good defender or rebounder. And his lack of physical upside is a huge concern for me. I understand that he's got pretty good ball skills for a kid his size. And people that have seen him a lot rave about his feel. But ball handling, passing and feel are not the first things I'm looking for in a power forward (and the people that like him mostly project him as a four). Defense, rebounding and low-post scoring ability would be higher on my list. Most coaches are not going to run their offense through their four man and have him dribble endlessly while trying to create something. So I'm not sure how Anderson's game, as presently constituted, plays at the next level. I'm open to the possibility that he can play effectively without dominating the ball at the next level. But his body and lack of athleticism are the big concerns for me.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, 6-1 SR SG Mouth of Wilson (Virginia) Oak Hill. Smith-Rivera has a squat, thick body and he's not especially quick. He uses strength to try to gain separation from defenders. He's got a pretty good stroke with range beyond the three-point line. He's a decent passer, but doesn't appear to have the feel to play point guard (or the quickness to defend the position at a high level). His best attribute appears to be is his ability to score, but I didn't see much beyond that this weekend. At his size, and with just fair quickness, it's difficult to see much upside with him. And he appears far closer to 6-1 than the often-reported 6-3.

Beejay Anya, 6-7 JR C Hyattsville (Mary.) DeMatha. Anya is a very physical low post player with a thick body, long arms and surprising leaping ability. You wouldn't think a kid built like him could get up as quick as he does. He's got good hands and feet, with a decent low post game. He's not super skilled just yet, but he's a presence inside. He is carrying a bit of extra weight and it will be interesting to see how he looks when he tones up a bit. He's an intriguing prospect and one to watch in 2013.

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