Now, we'll look at the players UCLA is targeting going into the July Evaluation Period to fill those needs.
Some things have slightly changed since the commitment of Zach LaVine, the combo guard from Botell (Wash.). Point guard was probably the biggest priority before his commitment, but with it, and his ability to play the point guard spot, the priority has probably shifted a bit to the frontcourt.
UCLA, more than likely, will have five scholarships to give to the 2013 class -- to LaVine, two posts, a true point guard and a wing (preferably a small forward type).
One element of 2013 recruiting to remember: UCLA has struggled recruiting nationally -- up until it signed the elite class of 2012. It's reasonable to assume that that happened mostly because of Shabazz Muhammad, who functioned as the pied piper for the three other non-west coast recruits that committed to UCLA. That presents some questions, though, as UCLA's intention clearly (if you go by the list below) is to continue to recruit on a national scale. 1) Will UCLA return to its relatively ineffective national recruiting results of the last several years (before 2012)? Or 2) Has the signing of Muhammad and the stellar 2012 class given UCLA's recruiting enough of a boost to make it viable nationally for 2013? It will be interesting to watch through July and into the fall, whether UCLA now has the recruiting power to seriously contend for all of the national prospects they're recruiting for 2013.
So, here is how it's looking with the guys UCLA is targeting heading into July.
As we said in the scholarship analysis, UCLA doesn't seem to be seriously involved with enough posts when they have two to sign for 2013. You can probably expect a good number of new names to make this list during July, but it could be the aspect of 2013 recruiting in which UCLA could struggle some -- mostly because there are so few elite posts, particularly on the west coast. Given all of this, an early commitment from Williams would really be a huge get, and give UCLA some security in terms of posts for 2013.
Currently Offered Targets:
Marcus Lee, 6-8, Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley. The #44-ranked player in the nation, Lee is a great, explosive, quick athlete. We've heard from sources that UCLA is doing very well with him, and even though he's now getting interest from elite national programs (Duke, North Carolina), Lee is a unique personality that will probably want to stay in the west, so UCLA, Arizona and probably Washington will be among the finalists. Lee recently talked about having a very good relationship with UCLA Coach Ben Howland.
Devin Williams, 6-8, Montverde (Fla.) Monterde Academy. The #75-ranked player in the nation, Williams is a big, strong kid with good skills. We had reported that UCLA was probably leading for him, and in a recent interview the way he spoke about UCLA seemed to confirm that. He moved from his hometown high school in Cincinnati to Montverde, and that could perhaps help UCLA, since it's the school that Luc Richard Mbamoute attended. There is a source indicating that UCLA could possibly get a commitment from Williams by August, but things can really change in July.
Jarell Martin, 6-8, Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Madison Prep. The #28-ranked player in the national class of 2013, Martin recently got close with UCLA-committed guard Zach LaVine at the Pangos Camp in L.A., and has now added UCLA to his list.
Others UCLA is Recruiting:
Karviar Shepherd, 6-9, Arlington (Tex.) Grace Prep. Now the #57-ranked player in the nation, Shepherd has improved physically and on the court. He has developing offensive skills, and actually a decent-looking jumper, while he's already a pretty good defensive post player. He also has a great motor and plays hard. He visited UCLA when he was in L.A. for Pangos, and right now he's favoring the schools he's visited unofficially -- UCLA, Louisville and LSU. He has plenty of other suitors, too, like Kansas, Texas A&M, and Georgetown, and more will probably get bumped to the favorites list by fall.
Johnathan Williams, 6-8, Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind. The #17-ranked player in the nation, Williams is an elite athlete who can score around the rim. He's had many programs in the South on him a long time and on him hard, as well as some national programs. He recently added UCLA to his list, but you'd have to think it's just a passing fancy.
Tosin Mehinti, 6-9, Decatur (Georgia) Greenforest McCalep Christian. Originally from Nigeria, Mehinti looks like a typical African prospect -- a great body, with long arms and good athleticism, but very raw offensively. UCLA is showing interest, but we'll see how much and whether it's reciprocated this July.
Tony Trocha, 6-10, Houston (Tex.) St. Thomas. The Colombian prospect is very thin but has some talent, and his recruitment is really up in the air at this point. He had been trying to get academically cleared, first, and then reclassified from 2013 to 2012, but there have been some snags in the process. Most programs recruiting him, which include UCLA, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas A&M and Providence, were well aware there could be some problems and are still trying to see if Trocha does end up getting cleared. There's a chance he could need to stay in the 2013 class.
As we said, with LaVine now on board, UCLA still has options. LaVine's commitment doesn't limit them in terms of getting a point guard or a shooting guard, but gives them someone who can play the point guard spot, making UCLA able, then, to take an elite player whether he's a point guard or a shooting guard. If any among an elite point guard, shooting guard or even another combo guard wanted to commit to UCLA, LaVine's versatility allows it. There is one concern, however: LaVine has grown from about 6-0 to 6-3 in the last year or so, and if he continues to do so he could grow himself out of being able to play point guard. Because of that, and the fact that, if you look at UCLA's projected roster, there really isn't a true point guard, UCLA really would prefer one.
As it is every year, we expect more names to be added to this list in July.
Currently Offered Targets:
Stevie Clark, 5-10, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass. There was some drama in the high-scoring point guard investigating the possibility of foregoing his high school senior season and going to college this fall. He was able to reclassify from 2013 to 2012, but ultimately chose to stay for his senior season. Having reclassified, however, he could have taken an official visit, and had one planned for UCLA, but cancelled it the morning of the trip. The family is now concentrating on Clark getting ready for college in the fall of 2013. UCLA, though, in recruiting him for 2012, has got in with him well. UCLA assistant coach Korey McCray, coincidentally, is close friends with Clark's uncle, who lives in L.A. as a record producer. Right now, Clark could be UCLA's top target at point guard that they have a good chance of getting. They'll have to fend off Connecticut, Florida State, Oklahoma State and undoubtedly more that get seriously interested in July.
Rysheed Jordan, 6-3, Philadelphia (Penn.) Vaux Roberts. The #26-ranked player in the nation, Jordan is a big, quick, athletic gaurd, who is getting recruited by many of the big east coast programs, as well as Kansas. He's mentioned UCLA, but we'll see how serious the interest actually is.
Tyler Ennis, 6-2, Newark (New Jersey) St. Benedict. The #20-player in the country, Ennis, who might not be the most athletic, is a true point guard. It's been thought he was destined for Syracuse for some time, and that's probably still the case, but UCLA is trying. There is a Jersey connection there with UCLA freshman Kyle Anderson.
Kendrick Nunn, 6-1, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon. the #42-ranked player nationally, we included Nunn among the point guards even though he is more of a shooting guard. He's an impressive athlete, with good quickness and a knack to score. We put him on UCLA's list as a point guard because, if he were in the same backcourt with LaVine, Nunn would be designated to guard the opposing point guard. It's known that UCLA really likes Nunn, and that among the national guards UCLA is recruiting, the Bruins could have a legit shot at him.
Others UCLA is Recruiting:
London Perrantes, 6-0, Encino Calif.) Crespi. Perrantes isn't a great athlete, but he has exceptional point guard skills, with an advanced passing ability and feel for the game, as well as a good outside jumper. He's on UCLA's secondary point guard list, but this spring the Bruins haven't shown him much love, and he doesn't mention them. It very well might not happen with Perrantes, but UCLA has quite often in the last several years neglected to show attention to a west coast prospect while pursuing national prospects -- and then found it was too late to get back in on them, which they attempted.
Kendall Smith, 6-3, Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley. A good athlete and one of the best point guards in the west for 2013. So far he's only been offered by mid-majors, but that could change after July. We know that many high-majors have Smith on their list to scout in July and with a lack of point guards in the west you can probably expect the Pac-12 to offer, especially Arizona State and Cal. Another thing that makes Smith even more attractive is the fact he's close with his high school teammate, Marcus Lee. Cal clearly understands this and could very well opt to offer Smith because it could help with Lee. UCLA has shown mild interest.
UCLA's projected roster lacks a true small forward. While it's not necessarily vital to have one, UCLA has lacked one in the last several years and it's hurt them defensively, playing someone out of position who couldn't match up against opposing small forwards. It would, truly, be nice to have a true small forward in 2013 and beyond.
But that doesn't mean UCLA would be limited to just small forward types. If an elite player who is more of a shooting guard wanted to commit, the "elite" aspect of the equation would override UCLA's need for a pure small forward.
There is a caveat here, too. If UCLA absolutely strikes out with a true point guard, it could very well opt to take two more wings. It'd be a risky venture, though, since Kyle Anderson might have a chance to jump to the NBA after his freshman season and, even if he doesn't, UCLA still wouldn't have anyone who clearly can guard the point guard position (perhaps LaVine?). We'd be surprised, though, if UCLA took two from this list before it exhausted all of its chances at getting a true point guard.
Currently Offered Targets:
Wayne Selden, 6-4, Tilton (New Hampshire) Tilton School. The #1 shooting guard in the nation for the 2014 class is getting reclassified to the 2013 class. He can score outside and inside, but he also has a good feel and is a good passer. He has said UCLA is among the schools recruiting him the hardest, along with Ohio State, Kansas and Florida, and expect Kentucky to be involved.
Jabari Parker, 6-7, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon. The #1 player in the nation for 2013, he is a big-time scorer, probably the best in the country. UCLA is trying, having an L.A. connection with him, but you'd have to think it's a longshot.
Ishmail Wainright, 6-5, Rockville (Maryland) Montrose Christian. The #33-ranked player in the nation, Wainright is a well-built small forward who can score and defend. UCLA has been on him a long time and he had said for a while UCLA was among his favorites, but it seems the interest in UCLA has waned a bit recently. We'll see how it develops in July.
Isaac Hamilton, 6-4, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. The #18-ranked player in the nation by Scout.com, Hamilton is a scorer, who can shoot from deep range and put the ball on the floor. UCLA is recruiting him aggressively, and looks to have climbed back into it after being completely out of it just a couple of months ago. Arizona is probably the biggest competition.
Semi Ojeleye, 6-6, Ottawa (Kans.). The #30-ranked player in the nation, Okeleye is a well-built small forward is good at physically over-whelming his competition, and might actually end up a power forward. He's a smart, articulate kid, too. UCLA is on him, but will be competing with Duke and others.
Allerik Freeman, 6-4, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. The #41-ranked prospect, Freeman can really score, with a pretty jumper and a score-from-anywhere mentality. He lists UCLA, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Villanova, and the Bruins might have more than a casual chance.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, 6-3, Huntington (West Virginia) Huntington Prep. Ranked #40, he's a big-time scorer and shooter -- a kind of a bit more athletic Jordan Adams. He's supposed to be on campus today (Friday) for an unofficial visit.
Others UCLA is Recruiting:
Dakarai Allen, 6-5, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. Ranked #71, Allen is a very good athlete and superior defender. Offensively he doesn't look to score much, but he's a very good ballhandler and passer, and his jumpshot looks fine. UCLA hasn't offered but is recruiting him, and hopefully will continue to aggressively while they potentially exhaust all of their national wing options. The word is that if UCLA offered Allen would probably take it. He embodies the pure small forward type who is a lock-down defender that UCLA has lacked for many years.
Tyree Robinson, 6-3, San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln.
Tyrell Robinson, 6-3, San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln. You have to link them together since they're a package deal. Tyree is the better basketball player and Tyrell the better football prospect, but it's likely both will attempt to play both sports in college, so that means they'll both take football scholarships. We know that the two athletes are highly coveted by the UCLA football offices, but the word is that the Bruins -- at least on the football recruiting end -- aren't doing as well as other schools. The recent trend is that Washington is probably leading, and that Lorenzo Romar is doing a good job with them.
Jaron Hopkins, 6-3, Mesa (Ariz.) Dobson. A great athlete, who can guard the 1, 2 or 3, who has a developing offensive game. Most of the Pac-12 has offered, including Arizona, who could be difficult to beat out.
Jelani Mitchell, 6-4, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir. An intriguing prospect who is a combo guard, Mitchell is skinny and looks very young, but has good offensive skills, with a nice stroke and passing skills. Colorado has offered, and the rest of the Pac-12 is on him.