We'll start with some facts. UCLA currently has four scholarships open for the 2013-2014 season. UCLA, though, intends to give out 5 to 6 scholarships to the 2103 class. That's based on the UCLA coaching staff anticipating some players currently on the roster for the 2012-2013 season might not be on the roster the following season. It's generally thought to be a pretty decent bet that Shabazz Muhammad, the elite 6-5 freshman small forward, will not be in Westwood in 2013-2014. There is also the possibility that Kyle Anderson, the 6-8 freshman point forward, could opt to go pro early after this upcoming season. We'd also have to anticipate there could be one or two other players on the current roster for this season that might not be on it for the following season.
It's a difficult proposition, then, to know, at this point, UCLA's exact needs for the 2013-1014 season. But it's pretty easy to get a really good idea.
With the graduation of UCLA's only true point guard, Larry Drew, after this season, it's pretty clear UCLA is in need of a point guard.
UCLA has four true post players currently on the roster, and three of them (David Wear, Travis Wear and Josh Smith) will be gone, at the latest, after the 2013-2014 season. That means, as of right now, for the 2014-2015 season, UCLA currently projects to having only one true post player, Tony Parker, on the roster. It's easy to speculate that post players are a top priority.
That would mean, then, UCLA is targeting one point guard and two post players for the 2013 class. And the rest being guards and wings to fill out the 5 or 6 they intend to bring in.
So far, UCLA has verbal commitments from Zach LaVine, a 6-3 guard from Bothel (Wash.), and Allerik Freeman, a 6-3 guard from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. LaVine is the #25-ranked prospect in the nation, and is a very good get for UCLA, being a very good shooter, with a good feel and some exceptional athleticism for his size. Freeman, the nation's #58-ranked prospect, is a scorer, with a good shot and ability to muscle his way to the basket.
But neither is a true point guard. Both have been described as combo guards at some time in their recruitments. LaVine is a talented player, who has some very flashy scoring talent to go along with some point guard skills. His body, though, still looks like it's developing and he could grow into a wing. Freeman was, a couple of years ago, a combo guard, playing point guard quite often for his AAU team, but became more of a shooting guard this spring and summer when he played more and more off the ball, shot it more often and played with more of a scorer's mentality.
So, even with those commitments, UCLA's primary recruiting needs for the 2013 class remain -- that of a point guard and post players.
The problem UCLA has run into is that, first, there is a lack of both in the west, and even nationally, and then UCLA has missed on a number of 2013 point guard and post targets so far. UCLA will probably have to wait until spring to finalize this recruiting class, and probably look overseas, even, for post players.
It could be, too, if UCLA doesn't get a true point guard, it might have to opt for LaVine or Freeman to run the point as a true freshman. Much depends, too, on whether Anderson decides to stay for his sophomore season, since he can play point on the offensive side of the court. A priority for the 2013 class, then, would be to bring in a prospect that is athletically suited to guarding the point guard spot. At this point we'd have to say that more than likely LaVine or Freeman probably can't do that.
If LaVine or Freeman did have to run the point as a freshman that would present a challenge. In Ben Howland's time at UCLA, only one true freshman has come in and run the point, and that's Jordan Farmar, who struggled in his first season. It's not an easy proposition to do, and particularly not easy having to do it in Howland's system -- and especially if you're not a true point guard or inexperienced as the position coming into the UCLA program.
Here are the 2013 prospects UCLA is currently recruiting.
Rysheed Jordan, 6-3, Philadelphia (Penn.) Vaux Roberts. Jordan was supposed to take his official visit to UCLA this last weekend, but had to cancel it due to his mother being hospitalized. He has already visited St. John's, will visit Syracuse on October 12th, and more than likely will visit Maryland, while also considering Villanova, Temple, Xavier and Rutgers. We've heard Jordan intends to re-schedule his UCLA visit for later in October, but we're also hearing that the buzz he had for UCLA is waning, due to a combination of his mother's illness making him want to stay close to home and pressure from more local programs. He is a good athlete who has been making a transition to point guard.
Stevie Clark, 5-9, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass. Clark is a very good outside shooter, but not a true point guard -- really considered an under-sized shooting guard. He is decently athletic, and it's thought he'd be able to guard opposing point guards. Clark, if you remember, was going to re-classify to the 2012 class to enroll in college this fall, and was pretty set on going to UCLA, but decided to stay in the 2013 class and play his senior season. UCLA seemingly cooled on Clark for a while but now, with a lack of guards remaining available, UCLA is back on him. He has plans to visit UCLA officially this weekend, October 6th.
Roddy Peters, 6-3, Forestville (Maryland) Suitland. Peters is a guard with length and decent quickness, who has good point guard instincts, and has been making the transition to point guard over the last year or so. He has some good upside, because of his feel for the game, passing ability and length on the perimeter. He plans to visit UCLA this weekend, October 6th. The thought had been he was leaning to Maryland, but the prevailing sentiment is that the Harrison brothers are leaning to Maryland, which would preclude Peters from going there . There is some talk that the Harrisons, though, will opt for Kentucky (The Harrison's will announce their choice Thursday). It's between UCLA, Maryland, Georgetown, Xavier and Rutgers for Peters.
Shooting Guards/Small Forwards
Brandon Austin, 6-5, Philadelphia (Penn.) Imhotep Institute. A former commit to Penn State, he opened it up in summer and UCLA has been on him ever since. UCLA had an in-home visit with him recently and it went well. No official visit to UCLA has been set yet. He reportedly visited Georgetown and Providence, and has interest in Syracuse and Florida.
Wayne Selden, 6-5, Tilton (New Hampshire) Tilton School. One of the elite small forwards in the nation, Selden was re-classified from 2014 to 2013, looking to get to college as soon as possible. The most recent news is that he's narrowed it down to six schools -- Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio State, Syracuse and UCLA. As of now, he plans to officially visit Kansas for Midnight Madness October 12th.
Devin Williams, 6-8, Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy. He has a wide body, plays physically and has a good feel for the game, but is limited athletically. It's now down to UCLA, Memphis, North Carolina State, Ohio State and West Virginia. He'll visit West Virginia this weekend, then UCLA this coming weekend, October 6th, and Memphis October 19th, while he's setting up visits to NC State and Ohio State. UCLA is thought to be among the leaders.
Joel Embiid, 6-11, Gainesville (Fla.) The Rock School. A good athlete for his size, Embiid, though, is very raw and a project. There is a scarcity of bigs across the nation, and UCLA has missed on a few, so the Bruins are now pursuing Embiid, having offered him this week. UCLA was scouting him in July, but didn't pursue him at that time. Now, Embiid is reportedly developing at a fairly fast rate and blowing up, with the likes of Florida, Kansas and Virginia now having offered and on him aggressively. With Embiid originally from Cameroon, you'd think that perhaps Alfred Aboya and Luc Mbah a Moute might help with the recruitment.
Tony Trocha, 6-10, Houston (Tex.) St. Thomas Episcopal. The word is that UCLA is again looking into the Colombian national. Trocha is more of a "tall" than a big -- meaning he's not really a true post player but likes to play more on the perimeter. He reportedly has some exceptional skills, but is pretty skinny and needs to develop physically. Trocha and his handlers were originally trying to get him eligible for the 2012 season, and they're now saying he could be eligible in time for the second semester (or winter or spring quarter, if you're UCLA) of this college school year. He officially visited Texas A&M last weekend, while Kentucky, Florida and Rice, at one time, showed interest. He apparently is cramming for the SAT, having taken seven hours of intensive English instruction a day during the summer.
Jarell Martin, 6-8, Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Madison Prep. One of the best post prospects in the country (ranked #12 in the nation), Martin's recruitment is going to be a circus, if it's not already. He recently said he's going to wait until spring and has "narrowed" it down to seven schools, Alabama, Louisville, LSU, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Texas A&M, and UCLA. Local LSU has long been considered the favorite. He won't take a standardized test until October, and can't set up visits until he gets that result. No visits are set. Jermaine Lawrence, 6-9, Sparta (New Jersey) Pope John XXIII. The #15-ranked prospect in the nation, it's another recruitment that will be dragged out and crazy. Lawrence, a kid who shies away from the media and recruiting attention, has strongly indicated he'll wait until spring. Schools like UNLV, UCLA, Syracuse, St. John's, Cincinnati, Kansas, and Kentucky are still under major consideration, but it looks like Lawrence has put recruiting on the backburner until well into his senior season. UCLA is hoping that a really strong 2012-2013 season will help with Martin, Lawrence and whatever other elite prospects might wait until spring.
Gavin Schilling, 6-8, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. A post described as being on the low-end of the high-major level, the German national who was raised in France is playing his senior season at Findlay Prep, along side UCLA-commit Al Freeman. He has gotten some pretty good reviews this fall as coaches have gone out to Findlay Prep, showing some physicality at about 240 pounds and decent mobility, while still with limited lift. He averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds a game as a junior at Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle, and played for one of the best AAU programs in the country, Mac Irvin Fire, which includes super elite junior post Jahlil Okafor, and UCLA-offeree, sophomore point guard Marcus LoVett. He's already officially visited Minnesota and USC, but hasn't arranged any other visits. Possibilities are Iowa State, Notre Dame, DePaul, Oklahoma, Washington State, Oregon State, Gonzaga and more. He's talking like he could wait until spring to decide. UCLA, in going out to see Freeman this fall, has checked out Schilling, and could get involved. With an extreme lack of bigs available, the Bruins cold get serious about him.