Update on 2012 Hoops Recruiting

With it being the last day of the first half of the Evaluation Period, we have a better perspective on how UCLA's 2012 recruiting looks, including how it all might play out with recruits like Shabazz Muhammad, Dominic Artis and William Goodwin...

The first half of the July Evaluation Period ends today, and then the Dead Period proceeds from July 16th to the 21st.

It's a time when coaches can't directly contact recruits, but if they want to communicate, of course, it can get done through intermediaries. It's an interesting week, with many coaches reacting from what they saw in the first 10 days of the period, sometimes resulting in a heightened level of recruitment for a particular player, or even a new scholarship offer.

First, here's a look at what the second half of the July Evaluation Period will entail:

Second Half of July Evaluation Period

When we get a few days into the Dead Period, we'll hear more about what's developed with many of these recruits -- which other programs have started recruiting them, how has the recruits' perspective has changed, etc.

Heading into the Dead Period, here's how UCLA's recruitment of the 2012 class stands. This isn't a comprehensive report, covering every prospect, but in our opinion the current trend in UCLA recruiting of the 2012 class.

Not much has changed with Shabazz Muhammad, the 6-5 wing who is the #1 player in the nation and plays for Dream Vision. Of course, since he's now the #1 player in the country, the proverbial target is even more on his back, and opposing AAU teams are going to extensive measures to try to shut him down. Dream Vision, which has been playing at the NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee the last couple of days, is a good team, but they really don't have any other offensive firepower to take the scoring responsibility off Muhammad, None of this will affect his status with the teams recruiting him. We're hearing that UCLA is still very strong with Muhammad, and even though rumors persist that Kentucky is becoming a player for him, we still have it from good sources that UNLV might ultimately present the toughest competition for Muhammad. There is talk that Muhammad might be growing weary of the recruiting scene and wish to not drag it on into fall.

The 2012 point guard recruiting has been interesting. Coming out of the Adidas Invitational July 9th, Javan Felix, the 5-11 point guard who plays for New Orleans Elite, had emerged as a viable target at the position, and he still is. UCLA is definitely showing Felix interest.

But Dominic Artis, the 5-11 prospect who plays for the Oakland Soldiers, has commandeered the spotlight. UCLA did, as we know, offer Artis a scholarship in June. He took an unofficial visit shortly before the July Evaluation Period, and now in the last couple of days he said he intends to make his choice before the end of July and that UCLA is his leader. Artis then proceeded to go out and arguably be the Player of the Day at the Peach Jam in Georgia Thursday, leading the Soldiers to a quarter-final victory. His exceptional performance at the Peach Jam, on one hand, confirms UCLA's interest in Artis, but it also has attracted other programs, like Louisville and Texas, to potentially get involved. It will be interesting to see how it all affects Artis' perspective, and if he says during the Dead Period if he still intends to commit by the end of July and UCLA is his leader.

His AAU teammate, Brandon Ashley, the 6-8 power forward, has been very impressive at the Peach Jam, being one of the top five prospects at the camp over the course of a few days. UCLA has done a good job recruiting Ashley, repairing its relationship with the Oakland Soldiers after Drew Gordon, putting the Bruins in the final top three for Ashley along with Arizona and Oregon. But we've heard that Arizona and Oregon are his two leaders, and that Arizona is ultimately the most likely choice. We've heard that an Artis commitment to UCLA could have some impact on Ashley but probably not enough to dissuade him from going elsewhere.

Point guard L.J. Rose was bumped out of the Peach Jam with his team, Houston Hoops. He played pretty well in the event, continuing to show his superior court vision and passing ability. He said at the even that UCLA and Texas are still his leaders. Some close to the situation believe that Texas could ultimately be his choice, but since Texas is now trying to also recruit Artis, it actually could work out well for the Bruins; if Texas does, in fact, get Rose, it will take out one of the potentially major players for Artis.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the 6-3 combo guard who plays for Spiece, which has been knocked out of the Peach Jam, has played well. From what we're hearing, though, he could be a ways away from making a decision, and that could possibly take UCLA out of the running. The Bruins, of course, have a spot earmarked for Muhammad, they have a commitment from Jordan Adams, and then if they get a commitment from Artis or Rose, the rides for perimeter players is just about full. If that were the situation, there would be a chance that UCLA could give out another scholarship to a guard/wing, but it would be a result of UCLA looking like it wasn't going to get either a power forward or center in this class, and that would be fairly uncertain for sometime.

Arnaud Moto, the 6-5 wing who plays for Team Takeover (also in the Peach Jam), is pretty much in the same boat, but we've heard that UCLA would more than likely take a commitment from Moto if he wanted to commit. The issue, again, though, is that we're hearing Moto is probably not going to decide for a while. He injured a knee and didn't play at the Peach Jam, which could be a good thing for UCLA, keeping many of the elite high-majors from seeing him more.

Kyle Anderson, the 6-7 "point forward," has had an exceptional performance at the Peach Jam with the Playaz and, even though he might not fit in clearly to a position, the sentiment is that he's too productive not to want him in your program and make a position for him. UCLA covets Anderson but there could be a couple of things going against them. First, the word was that Seton Hall and St. John's have possibly emerged as his two leaders; Secondly, Anderson fancies himself a point guard and if UCLA takes a commitment from Artis or Rose first that could sour him on the Bruins.

Tyrone Wallace, the 6-4 combo guard, is now playing with Double Pump Elite in the Three Stripes tournament in Los Angeles. He doesn't have a UCLA offer, and that might only happen if some scenario presents itself where UCLA misses on a few guards/wings, or on a few posts. Wallace, though, with his performance at the Adidas Invitational, definitely has kept himself in the running for a UCLA scholarship offer. What could hurt him, though, is that the Three Stripes tourney in L.A. is pretty weak in terms of talent, so the three UCLA coaches that are allowed out at any moment are spending their time at the loaded Peach Jam and the NY2LA Summer Jam. It has allowed UCLA coaches to only sporadically go out to the L.A. events, which also includes those put on by Dinos Trigonis. What also has made it difficult is the fact that Zena Edosomwan, the 6-7 power forward, jumped from the Pumps to Belmont Shore, Trigonis' AAU team, so now UCLA coaches can't see Wallace and Edosomwan in one viewing at one event. So, Wallace has had fewer viewings by UCLA since he left the Adidas Invitational, and it could remain this way in Las Vegas. Edosomwan has taken advantage of the weaker competition at the L.A. events and shown well, so UCLA coaches have mde an effort to see him. In Las Vegas during the second half of the Evaluation Period, once UCLA regroups, it will be interesting to see how much time they spend watching Edosomwan and Wallace.

If UCLA gets a commitment from Artis by the end of July, with still the assumed commitment of Muhammad, to go along with Adams, UCLA wouldn't officially have any more scholarship available for the 2012-2013 season. As we've said in the past, however, and we've continued to hear, UCLA will almost certainly have scholarships open up. The Bruin coaching staff will to recruit like it has 5 available.

But as we said above, what players -- and what positions -- those other two scholarships go out to could get interesting. Ashley is, of course, in the category of you-take-him-regardless. Unless they get Ashley, William Goodwin, the 6-7 power forward who plays with Adams on the Atlanta Celtics, is also in that category. UCLA has offered Robert Upshaw, the 6-11 center who plays for Dream Vision, and they would take his commitment. Moto, as we said above, is another guy they would probably make room for if he wanted to commit, regardless of when that was. If, say, UCLA does have Adams, Muhammad and Artis/Rose by the end of August, it could become a waiting game for UCLA to see who among Ashley, Goodwin, Anderson, Upshaw and Moto might want to jump in the boat. And working out the scenario even further, if Ashley commits elsewhere, and Upshaw holds to what he's been maintaining (that he could wait a while, even possibly until spring to decide), -- the focus would concentrate on Goodwin, Anderson and Moto, and even Smith-Rivera. What happens with those players will determine what happens with Wallace and Edosomwan. Where it gets tricky, however, is how long can UCLA wait to offer Wallace and Edosomwan, two prospects who many high major programs are discovering in July to be players they want -- and will offer. It would greatly behoove UCLA if Goodwin, Anderson, Moto and Smith-Rivera made up their minds fairly soon, but at this point that's impossible to determine if it will happen.

The key prospect could very well be Goodwin. If, in August/September, Ashley goes elsewhere, Upshaw holds out, Anderson goes (or heavily leans) elsewhere, as does Smith-Rivera, and Moto waits and is still fairly wide open, Goodwin could be the prospect that determines whether UCLA could offer Wallace or Edosomwan fairly soon. We've heard that Goodwin likes UCLA, and that the presence of his former AAU coach, Korey McCray at UCLA and the commitment of Adams really helps, and he might not want to prolong his recruitment through fall. If it turns out that Goodwin could hold out to, say, November, we could see UCLA also holding out and waiting on the various prospects who already have scholarship offers. It will be interesting, though, to see how long the Bruins wait. Edosomwan could be the first recipient of a scholarship offer since that would, at least, get UCLA a "big" in the class.

The Dead Period will undoubtedly change the perspective on all of this, once it's discovered how many of the prospects have changed their opinions as a result of the first half of July and the subsequent developments in their recruitments.

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