Hoops Recruiting Update

Here are the top prospects UCLA is targeting in basketball. This is the place to keep up with the latest updates and new names as we get near the November signing period...

UCLA's recruiting picture has changed a bit from the beginning of July.

They haven't received any other commitments, but as we predicted, some names have fallen off their recruiting list and some have been added.

The approach remains the same, though: With a commitment from the all-important point guard, and one from a wing, UCLA still needs another wing, and two bigs. If you do the math you know that UCLA doesn't have that many scholarships to give, but they are recruiting like they do.

The ideal in Ben Howland's system is to have a true center – a real low-post guy that bangs, and rebounds. The power forward, though, ideally is very skilled – a guy who can play in the low block comfortably, but who can also step out and shoot the ball to stretch defenses and open up the middle.

Now, in a year when the new coaching staff is still catching up to the rest of the basketball world in recruiting, filling their ideal personnel goals with elite talent is a bit difficult. Since UCLA generally needs talent, they don't really have the luxury to be picky about finding that ideal, face-up four – but could take two bigs who are both low-post players.

There is also the developing story of a prospect who could come in this fall. Aaron Bruce, 6-1 CG, Australia, starred for the Australian team in Greece during the recent Junior games. Bruce has verbally committed to UC Irvine and it is planned for Bruce to come in this fall as part of the 2003 class, but he has signed only a Scholarship Agreement with Irvine (which only binds the school) and could still enroll elsewhere. He has passed through the NCAA Clearing House and is fine academically. It's a question of whether UCLA will offer him after they continue to evaluate him. Last we've heard, UCLA is still in the process of evaluating him.

So, here's the outlook for the 2004 class. In parantheses are the number of players UCLA needs as each position:

POINT GUARD (1)

Jordan Farmar, 6-2 PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. COMMITTED. And thank the Lord. UCLA's committed point guard had a stellar spring and summer and cemented his place as one of the top two or three point guards in the country and a likely top 25 national recruit. In the summer he showed that he's everything the UCLA programs needs – a real point guard with great leadership skills, intelligence, maturity and good academics. It's a completely different world to ponder if Farmar had actually committed to Florida back in spring like he was close to doing (watch the video interview). Watching him play this well this entire summer would have been torture for the UCLA coaches, and would have made it desperation time to get a point guard. He could be the biggest get for the UCLA basketball program since Baron Davis.

WINGS (2)

Arron Afflalo, 6-5 SG/SF, Compton (Calif.) Centennial. COMMITTED. He had a solid summer, playing well at the ABCD, leading the camp in scoring, and then struggling somewhat in the Big Time playing on a team that didn't play well together. His shot was inconsistent for most of the spring and summer, but it's not a big worry since he's shown to be a better shooter in the past and has a very nice stroke. With good academics, Afflalo is a huge piece of the puzzle to getting UCLA back to where it needs to be over the next several years. Not only is he talented, but Afflalo is a warrior, much like Farmar, and he'll bring the needed toughness.

Malik Hairston, 6-4 SG, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance. He emerged this spring and summer as one of the best wings in the nation. UCLA is doing very well with him, and it's thought that the Bruins co-lead with Ohio State, while Kansas is making a push. Michigan State and Kentucky are also involved. With good academics, he'd really make UCLA's first recruiting class under Ben Howland a huge success. With these three playing for you – Farmar, Afflalo and Hairston – it's a very successful class regardless of what big men come with them. He's supposed to be visiting UCLA officially fairly soon, and could be visiting unofficially, as Farmar refers to in his video interview.

Josh Shipp, 6-5 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. He had a great Nike Camp, where he hit a majority of his jumpers and threw down impressive dunks. But then he came back to the west coast and came back to Earth. He's not overly quick, and needs to pick up his intensity at times. He's a solid player and a good kid (good academics). UCLA started to get on him more seriously during the last month. It will be interesting to see if UCLA pulls the trigger on Shipp if Hairston makes UCLA wait too long.

Shane Foster, 6-5 SR SF, Kenner (Louisiana) Bonnabel. A player UCLA scouted this summer – an athlete with good, developing skills. He says many schools have offered him – including UCLA – but we're skeptical. Kansas, LSU, Marquette, Boston College and others are involved.

Cheyenne Moore, 6-4 SG/SF, Colora (Mary.) West Nottingham Academy. A top 50 national player with very good athleticism and some nice skills, Moore had originally verballed to Georgetown but reneged. Many schools are now on the bandwagon, including Arizona and UCLA, to a degree. Moore is probably a longshot.

Lee Cummard, 6-6 SG/SF, Mesa (Ariz.) High. A true sleeper who is under-rated nationally, Cummard is one of the best players in the west. He's athletic, has one of the best strokes, is a great passer, plays his butt off, and has good academics. He's Mormon, so he'll go on his Mission apparently right out of high school. UCLA is interested, and he'd be recruited with an eye on coming in the fall of 2006.

BIGS (2)

David Burgess, 6-10 C, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. He didn't have a good showing at the Las Vegas Big Time, which could be helpful to UCLA – to keep other programs cool on him. He's a much better prospect than he showed in Vegas, a true back-to-the-basket, low-post player who bangs and rebounds. As he gets older and continues to slim down, his athleticism could continue to improve. UCLA likes him, he favors UCLA, and many close to the situation think he's a very good bet to be a Bruin.

C.J. Giles, 6-10 C, attle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. He proved he's a great post prospect this summer, easily a top 100 national player and among the best 5-10 center prospects in the country. He's big, long and moves really well – and has potential oozing out of him. Many, after watching him this summer, believe he's a potential pro. Kansas leads, while Arizona and USC are also there for him, and UCLA is making a big push.

Joakim Noah, 6-10 C, Brooklyn (New York) Poly Prep. A Ryan Hollins look-a-like, he really improved his stock this summer, showing good athleticism and improving skills. All of the new recruiting attention has him a bit turned around and uncertain about favorites, but UCLA might have a chance with him and they're showing interest.

Maarty Leunen, 6-8 PF/SF, Redmond (Ore.) High. Leunen received an offer from UCLA about mid-month, and he's considering the Bruins as well as Gonzaga, Oregon, Oregon State, and California. He's the type of player that would fit into Howland's system well -- a skilled, face-up four. He does have just average athleticism and size, though. He'd be a solid get, someone who knows how to play and is a good kid.

Randolph Morris, 6-10 C, Fairburn (Georg.) Landmark Christian. He had a very good summer, one that confirmed he's among the best center prospects in the country. He's big, with squared shoulders and a muscular body, and is nimble around the basket. He has good grades, thus the reason UCLA is trying with him. It's been long thought he was a lock for Georgia Tech, his brother being a graduate assistant there. North Carolina is involved now, too, though.

Al Horford, 6-8 PF/C, Grand Ledge (Mich.) High. A player that definitely caught UCLA's eye this summer, Horford is long and springy, and very active around the basket, and reportedly has a good GPA. He told us recently that he would be narrowing down his list fairly soon after the July evaluation period. UCLA has shown interest in July and we'll see if the Bruins are still on the list after it's narrowed down.

Marshall Brown, 6-6 PF, Austin (Tex.) Johnson. He's so athletic that he plays quite a bit bigger than he is. He doesn't have a great outside shooting touch, but it's not bad, and he can get hot. The word is that UCLA is still considering him. Brown has the potential to be a mobile, athletic four man. Missouri could be the leader.

Lorenzo Mata, 6-8 PF, South Gate (Calif.) High. He'd be a great fit as one of the frontcourt players UCLA needs – big, athletic and plays hard – and UCLA is his life-long favorite school. Academics are the huge snag, though. It's believed that he's quite a longshot to qualify, and would need to make up a considerable amount of classes to qualify by NCAA standards, much less by UCLA standards.

Mohamed Tangara, 6-9 PF/C, Durham (North Carolina) Mt. Zion. A great athlete who is a monster around the basket, Tangara has seen his recruiting pick up this summer. Arizona has now gotten into it and they are among his favorites, along with Michigan, Florida and others. UCLA has a chance, but a slim one. His academics are reportedly not excellent, and it's keeping UCLA a bit reserved on him.

Davis Nwankwo, 6-9 C, North Bethesda (Mary.) Georgetown Prep. He looked good at the Nike Camp and UCLA was showing interest. He then disappeared and didn't play the second half of the evaluation period. He's got a good body, good athleticism and good width. He's a good student and UCLA will continue to try to make in-roads. If Stanford can't get him in academically, it could open a door.

Cornelio Guibunda, 6-9 C, Stamford (Conn.) King & Low-Heywood Thomas School. A fairly good athlete that is also a good student with some raw potential, Guibunda didn't have a great showing at ABCD. The UCLA coaches have Guibunda ready to take an official visit if they want. He's probably a fall-back option at this point.

Jarhon Giddings, 6-9 C/PF, Blacksburg (Virg) High. Very thin, narrow and still very raw, but athletic, Giddings would be a good prospect to take if you could redshirt him, bulk him up and bring him along slowly, but UCLA doesn't have that luxury. He's on UCLA's list, but probably also a fall-back option.


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