Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the first Evaluation Period is the scarcity of bigs and point guards in the 2013 class for UCLA.
And perhaps the second biggest takeaway: It's probably going to be tough out there for UCLA to recruit nationally for 2013.
Of course, UCLA has a commitment from Zach LaVine, the 6-3 combo guard from Bothell (Wash.), who looked very good in the first evaluation period.
To go along with LaVine, UCLA wants two bigs, a pure point guard and one more wing.
Finding a wing could be easier, because there are always more of those than point guards and bigs.
But after the First Evaluation Period in July, it's looking like filling out the rest of the class could be a difficult and potentially long road, with many national prospects starting to reveal their favorites and narrow down their lists.
UCLA is extensively looking nationally to fill out its 2013 class, for a couple of reasons: 1) There isn't a great deal of talent in the 2013 west coast class, and 2) UCLA is continuing on its national recruiting trend that we've seen over the last 4 or 5 seasons.
UCLA, of course, did well recruiting nationally for the class of 2012. The few years preceding that, however, the national recruiting priority wasn't nearly as successful. It will be interesting to see if the approach works for 2013 -- if UCLA can parlay some of the national momentum from the 2012 class or if it will be more of a coming-back-to-Earth experience.
As of right now, with UCLA definitely spending a great deal of time recruiting national prospects, it doesn't seem like there is a good amount of national prospects that have UCLA leading, or even among their very short list of leaders. It's early, of course, and that could change. UCLA hasn't yet really stasrted recruiting many of the prospects aggressively, and could very well do that once they've recognized who the prime targets are from July.
But, going national in recruiting is always a tough proposition, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out for 2013.
Probably at the top of UCLA's wing list is Isaac Hamilton, the 6-4 shooting guard from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Hamilton had a prolific first session of the Evaluation Period, and UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland and assistant Phil Mathews caught every one of his games at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. Expect UCLA to go all out to get Hamilton. What could really trip up UCLA recruiting, however, is that Hamilton is saying he wants to wait until spring to decide. Since it's becoming clear that Hamilton is UCLA's top wing priority that could hold up UCLA wing recruitment, and force UCLA to pass over other wings waiting for Hamilton. We'll see if Hamilton sticks to that intention.
From what we've heard, there have been some developments in the recruitment of Ishmail Wainright, the 6-5 small forward from Rockville (Maryland) Montrose Christian, who is actually sitting out July due to an injury. Wainright was juiced when he received a Duke scholarship offer in spring, and it appeared that Duke was the clear favorite for him, but now things have changed somewhat. Semi Ojeleye, the 6-6 small forward prospect from Ottawa (Kans.), another UCLA target, took an unofficial visit to Duke right before the start of the July Evaluation Period and received a Duke scholarship offer. We've heard that, in fact, Duke might favor Ojeleye and Robert Hubbs, the highly-regarded shooting guard from Tennessee, over Wainright, and Duke wouldn't necessarily take a commitment now from Wainright if he wanted to commit. We've heard that this has gotten Wainright to shift his focus elsewhere from Duke. In fact, Wainright, in the recent interview that's on the frontpage of BRO, talks about how he'd really like an offer from Kentucky, but we've heard that probably won't happen. Before all of this drama, Wainright looked to be favoring UCLA last spring and, while it's just speculation on our part, these developments could help UCLA's chances with Wainright.
Wayne Selden, the 6-4 shooting guard from Tilton (New Hampshire) Tilton School, has said UCLA is on his list of four favorites.
Allerik Freeman, the 6-4 shooting guard from Henderson (Nev.) FIndlay Prep, is also maintaining UCLA is on the list of schools he wants to officially visit.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the 6-4 shooting guard from Huntington (West Virginia) Huntington Prep, took an unofficial visit to UCLA in late June but didn't mention the Bruins in a recent interview. The word is that UCLA is further down his list. UCLA is still recruiting Rathan-Mayes aggressively.
Kendrick Nunn, the 6-1 shooting guard from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon, remains a target for UCLA, even though we don't have a recent update on his interest in UCLA.
Dakarai Allen, the 6-5 wing from Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon, was seen by Howland and UCLA assistant Scott Garson in Philadelphia last week. Not much has changed in his recruitment with regard to UCLA -- with UCLA recruiting him but not offering him.
UCLA continues to recruit Jabari Parker, the #1 prospect in the nation, despite the Bruins being among those taken off his list in a recent list-trimming.
With bigs, Devin Williams, the 6-8 post from Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy, was still a top priority, with Williams looking good in the first evaluation period and UCLA coaches being at just about every one of his games. If there's anyone on this list that you could say UCLA leads for it's Williams.
It's still pretty wide open for Marcus Lee, the 6-9 post from Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley. Lee has been getting plenty of national attention and he's not showing his cards at all at this stage of his recruitment.
Joel Embiid, the 6-11 prospect also from Montverde (Fla.) Montverde, has emerged as a UCLA prospect. The big athlete performed well at the Adidas Invitational, and UCLA has made contact. UCLA alum Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was instrumental in bringing Embid to the U.S. from Cameroon and getting him set up at Montverde, Mbah a Moute's alma mater, and getting UCLA on him.
UCLA is trying with elite national recruit Jarell Martin, the 6-8 post from Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Madison Prep, and Martin has showed interest, but there could be some academic issues.
We're hearing that there could be just too many complications with Tony Trocha, the 6-11 post originally from Colombia. Trocha wanted this spring to re-classify to the 2012 class, but has settled in to the 2013 class. The word is that it could just be too difficult to get him qualified academically.
The chances with Karviar Shepherd, the 6-9 post from Arlington (Tex.) Grace Prep, look a little dimmer than they did just a few weeks ago, from what we hear. There could be some issues that snag the recruitment.
UCLA is trying to get involved with some big national posts, like Jermaine Lawrence, the 6-9 prospect from Sparta (New Jersey) Pope John XXXIII, and Dominic Woodson, the 6-9 prospect from Huntington (West Virginia) Huntington Prep, but we haven't heard anything that would sway us from believing they're anything more than longshots.
We know that UCLA is still interested in Tosin Mehinti, the 6-9 center from Decatur (Georgia) Greenforst McCalep Christian Academy.
UCLA also has looked into Kentan Facey, the 6-8 athletic post from Brookville (New York) Long Island Lutheran.
The point guard situation is similar to bigs, but there are probably even less options. But then again, UCLA only needs one ( as opposed to two bigs).
Tyler Ennis, the 6-2 prospect from Newark (New Jersey) St. Benedict, is indicating that Syracuse (the assumed long-time favorite), Illinois and Louisville are his top three.
Rysheed Jordan, the 6-3 guard from Philadelphia (Penn.) Vaux Roberts, reportedly looked very good in Philadelphia, being able to really shoot it and score, but there is some question as to whether he's a true point. Expect UCLA to start recruiting Jordan more aggressively.
It's uncertain at this stage if UCLA would take a commitment from Stevie Clark, the 5-10 prospect from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass. UCLA offered him to come to Westwood as part of the 2012 class, but UCLA might need more of a pure point guard in 2013.
Roddy Peters, the 6-4 point guard from Forestville (Maryland) Suitland, is a prospect that has started to get noticed by many programs, including UCLA. He reportedly looked very good in Philadelphia.
Marcus Allen, the 6-2 prospect from Las Vegas (Nev.) Centennial, continued to emerge at an L.A.-area tournament in the first evaluation period. He went up against UCLA 2014 target, point guard Jordan McLaughlin, in one bracket game, and while McLaughlin was exceptional, Allen was the best player on the floor. UCLA assistant Korey McCray was at that game, and UCLA assistant Garson watched Allen after that. It will be interesting to see if UCLA shows some more interest in Allen.
2014 and 2015
There were some developments with 2014 and 2015 recruits in the first July Evaluation Period.
Jordan McLaughlin, the 5-11 2014 point guard from Etiwanda (Calif.) looked fantastic in an Los Angeles tournament.
Malik Pope, the 6-6 2014 small forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian, was offered by UCLA a couple of weeks ago and then proceeded to display some considerable development in his game, like handling, passing and shooting the ball. He's emerged as one of the top prospects in the west for 2014.
Isaiah Bailey, the 6-5 2014 small forward from Compton (Calif.), went to Indianapolis and was one of the best 2014 wings at the Adidas Invitational.
Chimezie Metu, the 6-8 2015 post from Lawndale (Calif.), showed that he has a legit chance to be an elite high-major prospect. He's also an exceptional student.