Hoops Recruiting Update

The commitment of Kyle Anderson this week changes UCLA's focus for 2012 to bigs, like top target Tony Parker...

With the commitment of Kyle Anderson, the #4-ranked player in the nation, this week, UCLA's recruiting changes again, and it's been narrowed to mostly post players.

Anderson, the 6-7 "point forward" from Jersey City (New Jersey) St. Anthony's, gives UCLA three commitments, joining point guard Dominic Artis and shooting guard Jordan Adams on UCLA's commitment list. And with UCLA's intention to ultimately sign 5 in the 2012 class, slots are now scarce.

His commitment, too, is seen by most as a strong indication that Shabazz Muhammad, the 6-5 wing from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, is indeed strongly leaning toward UCLA. Muhammad and Anderson are close and, even though Muhammad will wait until spring to announce his decision, Anderson's commitment to UCLA has many putting two-and-two together.

In fact, Arnaud Moto, the 6-5 wing from Cameroon, was supposed to visit UCLA this weekend, but cancelled Thursday. It's believed that Moto, who plays his high school ball at Alexandria (Virg.) Episcopal, saw the Anderson commitment, knows about Muhammad's pro-UCLA leaning, and thought there wasn't room for him. It's certain that UCLA has left the door open for Moto, but the door is just about completely closed. It would take Moto not ultimately being happy with any of his other choices after completing his official visits – to Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida and Vanderbilt – and waiting until spring, and that is a doubtful scenario.

So, UCLA turns its focus onto post players.

The next big thing coming up on UCLA's 2012 recruiting calendar is the official visit of Tony Parker, the 6-8 center from Lithonia (Georgia) Miller Grove and the #19-ranked player in the nation. It reportedly is between UCLA, Ohio State and Memphis, with Duke running fourth. He has already visited Ohio State, and sources are saying that visit went well. He'll visit Georgia Tech this weekend, where his AAU teammate, Marcus Hunt, is already committed. Then, on September 30th, he'll be on UCLA's campus for his official visit that weekend. He has been to Memphis unofficially three times, and there is some talk that Parker could visit Memphis for Midnight Madness in mid-October, but there are other sources that say he could be ending his recruitment soon after his UCLA official visit next weekend.

Just like with how the friendship between Muhammad and Anderson played a big part in Anderson's commitment, Parker also has forged a bond with Muhammad and Anderson, and that could be an influence. In a recent interview, Parker said that Muhammad and Anderson were the two other prospects he wanted to play with in college. UCLA is also connected to Parker by UCLA assistant Korey McCray, who knew Parker as the coach of the AAU program, the Atlanta Celtics.

Beyond all of these connections to UCLA, the inside word is that UCLA is doing very well with Parker, better than what many east coast sources are indicating. In fact, while recruiting is a very fluid phenomenon and it all can change very quickly, at this moment in time we've heard from good sources that UCLA is leading for Parker. Perhaps the only element that has kept it from being done is Parker's concern over the distance. UCLA, then, will try to allay those concerns during Parker's visit.

UCLA's Ben Howland and McCray have been in Atlanta in recent days for a second visit with Parker during this Contact Period.

While in the South, Howland and McCray have also seen for a second time William Goodwin, the 6-8 post from Decatur (Georgia) Southwest Dekalb, the #24-ranked player in the nation; and Jarnell Stokes, the 6-8 post from Memphis who is the #17-ranked player. Goodwin, of course, is close with McCray, having played for the Atlanta Celtics, but his recruitment is still very much up in the air at this point. Goodwin has maintained he intends to play football in college, and that would dictate he takes a football scholarship, but whether that happens is uncertain. It's thought that ultimately Goodwin will take a basketball ride, but he's an eccentric kid and it's completely plausible for him to go against convention and insist on playing football.

UCLA is also trying to get seriously involved with Stokes, but it's going to be difficult to try to elbow out of the way programs like Memphis, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas that have been on him hard for a long time.

No UCLA official visits have been set for either Goodwin or Stokes.

There is also the possibility of Chris Obekpa, the 6-8 post from Centereach (New York) Our Savior New American School. Howland has been to see Obekpa since the Contact Period began, and he could also take an official visit to UCLA.

So, with UCLA in search of a post player to complete the class, on top of the list right now is Parker, but there is also Goodwin, possibly Stokes, and then Obekpa.

When it comes to Muhammad, he's visiting Texas A&M this weekend, and will be in Kentucky for an official visit during March Madness. The intention, too, is to visit Duke officially. It's still believed that hometown UNLV is the program with the best chance to unseat UCLA, and Muhammad recently watched a UNLV workout.

But all sources close to the recruitment are still saying UCLA is the strong leader, and that Anderson's commitment is just another reflection of that.

If UCLA does get its five-man class for 2012, and it consists of Muhammad and one of the elite post players, recruiting the class of 2013 becomes much easier. UCLA would then have three scholarships to give to 2013, if Josh Smith goes pro after his junior season (which is obviously a very good possibility since he could pro after this next year, his sophomore season), and possibly four if UCLA does indeed get Muhammad and he's one-and-done.

2013-2014 SEASON

Point GuardShooting GuardSmall ForwardPower ForwardCenter
D. Artis (So)N. Powell (Jr)T. Lamb (Sr)T. Wear (Sr)A. Stover (Sr)
2013 CG (Fr)J. Adams (So)2012 SF (So)D. Wear (Sr)2012 C (So)
2013 SF (Fr)K. Anderson (So)
2013 Post (Fr)
Needs would be a small forward since Lamb is a senior and, again, if the 2012 small forward is Muhammad. A post, either a power forward or center, would be good since you lose both Wears and Stover after the season. Then, a combo guard would be ideal.

Given that, UCLA has been out during this Contact Period and checking in on 2013 prospects. Here are some of the early primary prospects:

Zach Lavine, 6-1 combo guard, Bothell (Wash.) High. UCLA assistant Scott Garson was the first assistant at Lavine's high school to watch him in the Contact Period. The Bruins have offered and are hoping to get an early commitment from Lavine, who missed all of the July Evaluation Period with an injured hip and will return to action this week. A source close to Lavine has said that they've been told Howland will be in Washington to see Lavine next week.

Ishmail Wainright, 6-5 small forward, Rockville (Maryland) Montrose Christian. Wainright is currently a big priority; Howland went to watch him in the first few days of the Contact Period. The word is that UCLA is doing really well with him and probably leading for him, and that Howland will be back to see him again next week. Ranked #40 for 2013.

Isaac Hamilton, 6-4 shooting guard, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. UCLA hasan't offered Hamilton yet, but UCLA coaches have been by to see him this month and the word is that the Bruins are really stepping up their recruitment of him. Ranked #35.

Jabari Bird, 6-4 shooting guard, Richmond (Calif.) Salesian. The exceptional athlete has Washington and Arizona leading but UCLA's assistant Phil Mathews is putting in a lot of work to make up ground. Having a commitment from Artis, Bird's former high school teammate and AAU teammate, helps. Mathews has been to watch Bird this month. Ranked #17.

Jordan Bell, 6-7 power forward, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. The exceptional rebounder and shot blocker is getting a lot of attention so far this Contact Period, and UCLA has been to see him. Long Beach Poly sources are telling us the plan is for Howland to swing by the school by next week. UCLA hasn't offered, but Bell is the type of athlete UCLA needs in its frontcourt. Ranked #77.

Elijah Brown, 6-3 shooting guard, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The son of new Lakers' coach Mike Brown, the word is that UCLA is showing him strong attention.

During the contact period, UCLA coaches have also been to see prospects in the 2014 and 2015 classes:

Stanley Johnson, 6-5 wing, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, 2014. Offered.
Shaqquan Aaron, 6-4 guard, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, 2014. Offered.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 5-8 point guard, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, 2014. Offered.
Stephen Zimmerman, 6-9 center, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, 2015. Offered.
Brodricks Jones, 6-7 forward, Playa Del Rey (Calif.) St. Bernard, 2015
Chance Comanche, 6-6 forward, Playa Del Rey (Calif.) St. Bernard, 2015

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