This week it was generally accepted that the known candidates were Kerry Keating, Tennessee; Jimmy Patsos, Maryland; Todd Lee, UC Irvine, and Tom Ostrum, Florida.
All four would be very good choices.
Keating fits the part well, being the #1 assistant at Tennessee and considered a very good, young coach. He has very good national recruiting ties and is a tirelesss recruiter who is probably the most active on the west coast among non-west coast coaches. Keating was responsible for bringing Nevada point guard C.J. Watson to Tennessee, the freshman who led the SEC in assists this last season. And he generally fits the UCLA part well. Keating is also being considered by Jamie Dixon for a position on his new Pittsburgh staff.
Patsos, on the recruiting trail, is also a dilligent worker. He was instrumental in Maryland getting Carson's Ekene Ibekwe. Being from the east coast, he brings some developed east-coast recruiting connections.
Lee is considered one of the best assistants in the west. He was a finalist for the recently filled UC Davis head coaching job. He's been associated with other openings, and has been mentioned as a candidate for pro assistant positions. He's also very well respected by former UC Irvine athletic director, Dan Guerrero.
Ostrum is another in the same mold as Keating and Patsos – a hard-working recruiter. He brings east coast recruiting connections and has made in-roads for Florida into the west, which you would think might be difficult. Ostrum might be at a disadvantage since he's the #3 guy at Florida, and jumping into a co-#1 spot at UCLA might be a big leap.
The latest is that Keating and Patsos are the two main names being mentioned. It's believed that both will come to Los Angeles to talk to Ben Howland within the next week.
This is not to say more names won't be added to the list of candidates. Good sources have also said that Howland could take his time on this, possibly up to a few weeks, in naming the last assistant to complete his staff.
Current Roster Update:
The word is that it looks more optimistic that T.J. Cummings will be with the team next season. He's in school and participated in the off-season workouts last week.
In the off-season workouts, Cedric Bozeman isn't participating while still recovering from the shoulder injury and surgery that kept him out of the latter part of last season. Ryan Hollins is also not participating, since he's in track season. Looking good has been Dijon Thompson, Mike Fey and Cummings.
Assistant Ernie Ziegler tore an ACL when he was conducting the workouts.
UCLA currently has a total of three scholarships open. One is earmarked for verbally committed Arron Afflalo, 6-4 JR SG, Compton (Calif.) Centennial, which would leave two to give. But it's believed that there is a good chance UCLA will have more to give – possibly four total, and maybe even five, to the high school 2004 class.
UCLA has a shooting guard in Afflalo. If they have four total to give, they'll need a point guard, a center and a power forward. If they have five, they'll need a whole team, including a small forward.
Ben Howland was in Houston this weekend to watch the Kingwood Classic tournament, and watched Jordan Farmar, 6-1 JR PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Afflalo also participated, but was limited due to food poisoning. Some who were there said that Gabe Pruitt, 6-3 PG/SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, played well, as well as David Burgess, 6-10 JR C, Irvine (Calif. ) Woodbridge. Assistant Donny Daniels was in Seattle for the FinalScore.TV tourney, where he watched Quentin Thomas, 6-2 JR PG, Oakland (Calif.) Tech; Marvin Williams, 6-8 PF/SF, Bremerton (Wash.) High, a top ten national player; and projected top fifty national caliber player, Josh Heytvelt, 6-9 JR PF, Clarkston (Wash.) High, among others. Daniels was also in Las Vegas for the Pump Easter tourney, where he checked out some high majors in Hector Hernandez, 6-8 JR SF, Denver (Col.) Lincoln, and Robert Rothbart, 6-11 JR PF, Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista.
The word is that UCLA is high on Farmar. Farmar has indicated to a few schools recently that he's keeping his recruitment down to UCLA, Arizona, Florida and Gonzaga. Many in coaching circles believe UCLA is the team to beat. UCLA also likes Thomas. UCLA doesn't look like it will have a chance to get in on Williams, since he's so far along in the recruiting process. But the Bruins look to be getting an official visit from Heytvelt in May. Heytvelt was thought to be wide open, but it is believed he wanted to go to a bigger program and bigger conference than what locals Washington and Gonzaga represnet. And it looks very positive for Burgess.
UCLA right now is trying to form a solid west coast foundation for the 2004 class. There are recruits UCLA is looking at nationally, including the #1 player in the class, Sebastian Telfair, 5-11 JR PG, Brooklyn (New York) Lincoln, who many believe UCLA will have a good shot with since Howland was involved with him at Pittsburgh.
A recruiting class that consisted of Afflalo, Farmar/Thomas, Burgess and (out on a limb) Heytvelt would be significant, though.
The effort of the new staff to establish a west coast foundation also stems to the current high school sophomores. Bruin coaches have been putting in time scouting, watching and recruiting some elite sophomores. Howland has been to Los Angeles Verbum Dei to watch elite sophomore post, Amir Johnson, 6-9. Daniels was in attendance in Vegas watching Mario Chalmers, 6-1 SO PG, Anchorage (Ala.) Bartlett, who is a very elite high major player; as well as Andre McGee, 5-10 SO PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs, and Martell Webster, 6-6 SO SG/SF, Seattle (Wash.) Prep, one of the elite sophomore wings in the west who the Bruins will have as a big target in the 2005 class.
Now that the spring contact period is coming to a close, we'll have an in-depth look at UCLA's recruiting list for the 2004 classes real soon...