The dead period in the middle of July is a fairly active time for recruiting, however, when many college coaches begin recruiting or offer new prospects based on what they saw in the first half of July. Coaches want to be able to appeal to the recruit, showing him that all they needed was the first half of the period to start recruiting or offer him.
So, these last five days before the dead period are pretty critical.
Howland will be at the Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia,, and then head to Milwaukee for the NY2LA Summer Jam, could also make a side trip to New Orleans, and then stop to check in at the L.A. tournaments.
Here's a rundown on the status of UCLA's recruiting and its recruits, and where they'll be over the next fives days.
Of course, the big fish is Shabazz Muhammad, the 6-5 wing who is the #1 player in the nation and plays for Dream Vision. In Indianapolis at the Adidas Invitational, Muhammad was playing exceptionally well (and we'll have video coming soon), but Dream Vision got bumped out of the tournament in the Sweet 16, which is early for this AAU team. Dream Vision was hit with a box-and-one by an athletic Kansas Pray Play Players, which frustrated Muhammad and more or less shut him down. Muhammad is the type of player that will get inspiration from even a fairly meaningless game like this, so it will be interesting to see how he responds when Dream Vision starts back up in the NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee beginning Tuesday. Of course, every big-time program has a coach at just about every one of his games, so the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, etc., are in the stands. The long-standing assertion is that UCLA leads for him, and everything we heard in Indianapolis supports that. In fact, while big names like Kentucky are being floated as potential serious players, we continue to hear that it could come down to UCLA and UNLV, Muhammad's hometown program. We have heard that some programs like North Carolina and Memphis are starting to understand that they are on the outside looking in.
Also on Dream Vision is Robert Upshaw, the 6-11 center, who didn't have a good few days in Indianapolis. After playing a couple of games, and not getting many minutes because of foul trouble, he injured a finger, and sat out the last day and a half. He seemingly looked fine in warm-ups but didn't play. Not being seen by college coaches in the first few days of the Evaluation Period could probably hurt Upshaw's stock among college coaches. It probably won't hurt it much, since a 6-11 prospect who can play is a rare commodity. We've heard that Upshaw still is talking that he might wait until spring to decide, which could be intriguing in terms of whether many programs, including UCLA, will still be interested and have scholarships available. Again, most would take a good 6-11 prospect regardless, but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. There could definitely be a possibility that UCLA finds other options by November.
Jordan Adams, UCLA's committed 6-4 wing, who plays with the Atlanta Celtics, was bumped out of the Adidas Invitational early also. Adams played fairly well, showing off his very good shooting touch. He has a bit of an old school game, with limited athleticism, but with a nice shot and a craftiness going to the basket. As we said, Adams is only 16 years old and young for his grade, which is unusual these days, and he still has plenty of time to get in better physical condition, which would definitely enhance his quickness. We've heard that, contrary to common opinion, UCLA would have had a very good shot at Adams even if UCLA hadn't hired Korey McCray, the ex-coach of the Celtics, and that Adams is extremely excited about being a Bruin.
Also on the Celtics is a prime UCLA target, 6-7 power forward William Goodwin. "Shaq," as he's known, is also young, not turning 17 until September, so couple that with his tremendous physical and athletic gifts it's easy to see his upside. Goodwin runs like a deer and really is at the beginning stages of learning how to play basketball, but he uses his athleticism and aggressiveness to make plays. We're hearing UCLA is doing well with Goodwin, and that having McCray on UCLA's staff is, of course, key, as is the commitment of Adams. But Goodwin is a character, on and off the court, and sources close to the situation really can't say which way Goodwin is leaning at this point.
Brandon Ashley, the 6-8 power forward, was at the LeBron Camp in Akron, Ohio, for the first week of the period, and now he and his AAU team, the Oakland Soldiers, will be in Augusta, Georgia, for the Peach Jam to close out the first half of the Evaluation Period. While UCLA has been considered somewhat of a longshot with Ashley for a while, mostly because of the feeling that the UCLA/Soldier relationship wasn't good due to the fallout from Drew Gordon, we've heard that isn't necessarily the case. We've heard UCLA, particularly assistant coach Phil Mathews, has done a good job repairing the relationship, to the point, in fact, that UCLA is one of Ashley's finalists, along with Arizona and Oregon. Now, of course, things can change as a result of July; many prospects get interested in other programs who get interested in them. But Ashley is pretty far down the recruiting road and you can probably expect these three programs to be the ones he'll choose from. It's been long thought that Arizona is the leader, but we've heard UCLA has a legitimate chance.
Dominic Artis, the Soldier's 5-10 point guard, was also at LeBron, and played in front of Howland for the last several days of the camp. Artis, reportedly, looked good, and UCLA is in a good spot with him after he took an unofficial visit to Westwood right before the Evaluation Period.
L.J. Rose, the 6-3 point guard, was at LeBron, and will also be at the Peach Jam with his AAU team, Houston Hoops. Rose is a distributor-type of point guard, who has good size but just average quickness. We're hearing that it's generally UCLA or Texas.
Javan Felix, the 5-11 point guard from New Orleans, is one prospect who definitely improved his stock with UCLA at the Adidas Invitational, since we've heard that UCLA has shown a heightened interest in him since last week. Felix is built out physically, and has decent quickness, but very good handle and passing ability and vision, while he shot the ball well in Indianapolis. What stood out, too, about Felix is how hard he played. His New Orleans Elite team is playing in tournaments in New Orleans and Mississippi to close out the first half of the Evaluation Period, so UCLA will undoubtedly deploy a staff member to watch him a bit in those tournaments. We've heard that Felix has decent academics, too. It will be interesting to see if Felix gets a UCLA offer soon.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the 6-3 combo guard, was at LeBron, and will be at the Peach Jam with his AAU team, Spiece. He reportedly played well at LeBron, showing his scoring ability, being more of a two than a one.
Kyle Anderson, the 6-7 "point forward," continues to be a prospect UCLA is targeting. He played well in the first few days of the period, and will now head to the Peach Jam with the Playaz. We're hearing, though, that St. John's and Seton Hall are probably emerging as the front runners.
Arnaud Moto, the 6-5 wing from Cameroon who goes to high school at Alexandria (Virg.) Episcopal, looked good at LeBron and will also head to the Peach Jam with Team Takeover. UCLA is making Moto, who is not only very athletic but skilled, a priority, from what we've heard, and is definitely trying to use its Cameroonian connection.
Tyrone Wallace, the 6-4 combo guard, had a good few days at the Adidas Invitational, with a couple of solid games in front of Howland. Howland, who really loves shooters, did miss the day that Wallace made four threes in one game and three in another. But Wallace is definitely very planted on UCLA's recruiting board, and is a real possibility for the Bruin program. He doesn't have an offer yet, but if he continues to play well and build confidence the rest of July, by the time Wallace gets back in front of Howland in Vegas and probably in Los Angeles for the Best of Summer tournament with his Pump AAU team, that could change.
Zena Edosomwan, the 6-7 power forward and a teammate of Wallace on Double Pump Elite, started off slowly at the Adidas Invitational, showing some nervousness, but also because he played against one of the best centers in the country, Cameron Ridley. After Howland left for Akron and the LeBron Camp, Edosomwan played better, showing more confidence going against guys his size. It's known that UCLA really likes Edosomwan, as a player and a student, so, like Wallace, the rest of the Evaluation Period is critical for him. The Pump players could be at the Pump Camp #2 right now, and then will play in the Three Stripes tournament in Los Angeles to close out the first half of the Evaluation Period.
Xavier Johnson, the 6-5 wing with Dream Vision, struggled a bit at the Adidas Invitational, in trying to mesh with Dream Vision and just generally getting in a rhythm. We've heard, also, that Johnson is a bit nicked up, having played so much AAU ball over the last couple of months.
Richard Longrus, the 6-6 forward will be at the Peach Jam with the Oakland Soldiers, where Howland and other UCLA staff members will see him.
We've also heard that UCLA is starting to show some interest in the following 2012 prospects:
Terry Rozier, 6-0 point guard, Shaker Heights (Ohio) High. Rozier has impressed with some good athleticism and scoring ability so far in July.
Danuel House, 6-5 shooting guard, Sugar Land (Tex.) Hightower. The #33-ranked player nationally, House has a high level of athleticism and is now showing a deep shooting range.
Danrad Knowles, 6-9 post, Trent (Tex.) Trent School, the nation's #87-ranked prospect, plays on Houston Hoops with Rose, and has showed a nice face-up game so far in July.