UCLA, more than likely, will have six or seven scholarships to give to the 2014 class (unless it adds to the roster this spring with a transfer, which is still a possibility). It doesn't have to give out, say, seven if it has seven available, but you can expect upward of 5, if not 6.
If you project UCLA's roster for 2014, two things jump out at you: UCLA desperately needs a point guard and some bigs. The Bruins won't have a true point guard on its roster (actually, too, for this upcoming season, unless it gets a transfer). Bryce Alford, reportedly, can play some point guard and, if true, that would be greatly beneficial. Kyle Anderson isn't a true point guard in the truest sense (being able to play the position on both ends of the court), and it's very easy to envision him leaving for the NBA after next season (thus the six or seven scholarships available). UCLA could actually use a couple of point guards, but it's extremely difficult to get two point guard recruits to come to the same school in the same year. It's still undetermined if Tony Parker will return next season, but we'll assume he does – that means in 2014, he'll be the only big on the roster. UCLA should sign at least three bigs, then, at least.
1 Point Guard
It's regrettable that, given what Steve Alford and his coaching staff have inherited, that their first class at UCLA isn't the 2015 class – since that class is absolutely loaded with bigs in the west. 2014 – not so much. We've said that UCLA has made many mis-steps in trying to recruit outside of the west in the past, but it absolutely will be forced to do so with bigs for 2014.
So, Alford and Crew have a big task ahead of them in recruiting the 2014 class. Even though you'd like to give the staff a honeymoon, the importance of recruiting the 2014 class can't be emphasized enough in terms of whether Alford succeeds at UCLA. It's not difficult to envision the program going into a bit of a rebuilding slump for a while if it doesn't secure a talented, elite class for 2014. If it does, it's also easy to envision the program rebounding pretty quickly.
So, here are the prospects UCLA is recruiting for 2014, at least so far. We expect, like always, this list to change as UCLA goes through the July Evaluation Period, with names dropping and being added.
As we've said, it's critical UCLA gets an elite point guard in 2014. It hasn't gotten a high school point guard prospect since 2008 – missing on it in five successive recruiting classes.
The way the situation is now, we'd be shocked if Alford doesn't get an elite point guard. Any point guard prospect would have to recognize the opportunity at UCLA, to come in and immediately be running the show at a high-profile program -- the program that has consistently supplied the NBA with point guards recently -- and under the tutelage of a head coach that is a former NBA and Olympic point guard.
Jordan McLaughlin, 6-0, Etiwanda (Calif.). #21 Nationally, #5 Point Guard. We've written enough about how talented McLaughlin is, but what's great about him is – he's still raw as a point guard and doesn't have the clear physical tools to be a quick-to-the-NBA jumper. He's a bit slight, and while he's a great passer, his point guard view of the game needs to be developed. So, in other words, even though he clearly has pro potential, he'll probably be in college for a decent amount of time. And again, would there be a better fit for McLaughlin than to learn the position under Alford? Many high-majors have offered, but we've heard right now the leaders are UCLA and Gonzaga, and that UCLA is ahead of Gonzaga. We know that McLaughlin has always liked UCLA, the school. Alford recruited him at New Mexico, so there is a prior relationship. There are indications we've heard, too, that everything is pointing toward McLaughlin going to UCLA. The issue is, though, he might not want to commit soon as opposed to later. UCLA, of course, needs a point guard, and can probably only wait around so long.
Josh Perkins, 6-3, Aurora (Col.) Regis. #26 Nationally, #8 Point Guard. UCLA offered Perkins this week, for the very reason we stated in our breakdown of McLaughlin: why wait around for one point guard when there's another who, arguably, might be just as good, if not better? Perkins is that prospect. He's bigger than McLaughlin and has good quickness, but just not the athleticism of McLaughlin. But Perkins probably is more of a developed point guard at this stage. It truly is arguable which of these two ends up the better college point guard. We have heard that UCLA, with that offer, is looking very good with Perkins (Alford and assistant coach Duane Broussard recruited Perkins heavily at New Mexico), and is probably the leader for him. UCLA made a very heady move in offering Perkins this week. It definitely is a case that the Bruins will take whoever commits first between the two, and it should be since both are elite prospects. Perkins is expected to play at the upcoming Pangos All-American Camp (May 31-June2), and there is word that he intends to visit UCLA unofficially during that weekend.
Jaquan Lyle, 6-4, Evansville (Ind.) Bosse. #12 Nationally, #3 Point Guard. Lyle is an elite prospect, with great size, and superior passing ability, to go with a big-time scoring talent. Alford, obviously, is trying to call on his Indiana connections to try to make this happen. We're skeptical, for a couple of reasons – UCLA is late to the game with Lyle, and it'd be tough to get him to decide to come so far for college. UCLA made his list of seven, which also includes Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, Illinois, Florida and Tennessee. Luckily, there are some talented point guards in the 2014 class in the west, and it won't be a case that the UCLA staff will spend its Evaluation Periods following Lyle only to be left empty-handed. If Alford could pull this one off it would be a huge coup.
Robert Cartwright, 6-2, La Canada (Calif.) Flintridge, #80 Nationally. #18 Point Guard. UCLA would probably take Cartwright in any other year, but the 2014 west coast class is deep with point guards. Both his parents are UCLA alumni. He's a smart, skilled player, who runs a team with savviness and precision. UCLA has had some contact with Cartwright, and are watching him. He'd definitely be the guy that UCLA would go to if things with McLaughlin and Perkins fall out. Hopefully they can recruit him enough to keep him warm in case of that scenario.
Kyron Cartwright, 5-10, Compton (Calif.). This Cartwright is a high-major prospect in his own right and, again, if he had been in any of the last few west coast classes, UCLA would probably be targeting him. He has a few D-1 offers, but most of the college basketball coaching community hasn't seen much of him yet. His older brother went to Iowa, so there's a connection there. UCLA has a good relationship with Cartwright's AAU program and could go this route if they needed to.
Chris Chiozza, 5-10, Memphis (Tenn.) White Station. #22 Point Guard. Chiozza is a smallish point guard, but has shown speed, quickness, toughness, a motor and floor vision that he's blown up this spring, with offers now from Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee, Memphis, Butler , Connecticut and USC. Chiozza actually got six high-major offers in two days after a recent tournament during the Evaluation Period . UCLA has a connection, and has made contact.
UCLA has a decent amount of wings for the next couple of seasons, losing just one – Norman Powell – to graduation by 2014. But you always need more, and there are some recruits in the west for 2014 that it would behoove UCLA to get, not only from a roster standpoint but a P.R. perspective. The national targets on this list, we think, are fairly longshots, and it would be a tremendous accomplishment by the new staff to get any of them.
Namon Wright, 6-4, Los Angeles (Calif.) Pacific Hills, #30 Nationally, #5 Shooting Guard. He's a great athlete with a very good feel, and UCLA is doing well with him. In fact, the word is that UCLA leads, but Arizona, Washington and USC are going to be tough competition, and it probably won't get done soon.
Stanley Johnson, 6-5, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, #17 Nationally, #5 Small Forward. Johnson has emerged as one of the handful best prospects in the west, and his recruitment has really heated up. The long-time sentiment is that Arizona is the leader, but Kentucky is targeting Johnson, too. When the new UCLA staff was hired they were clearly behind, but they've made up some ground. This one will be complicated and could go any direction.
Justise Winslow, 6-6, Houston (Tex.) St. John's, #9 Nationally, #1 Small Forward. Winslow combines a college-ready body with great athleticism and an exceptional feel for the game. He's had every major program interested, but it appears Duke might be the leader, with Arizona a close second. The previous UCLA coaching staff was recruiting him, and the new one has picked up the recruitment. It admittedly is a longshot for UCLA, but Winslow has shown enough interest in UCLA that it has to play it out and see if there's a chance. Interestingly, his decision could impact what Johnson does; if Winslow goes to Arizona that would probably preclude Johnson from going there. Winslow has said he could narrow his choices soon, and it'd almost be good if UCLA were eliminated so it can not waste too much time recruiting him.
Trevon Bluiett, 6-4, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor, #49 Nationally, #14 Small Forward. Bluiett is one of the elite shooters nationally in the 2014 class, and also a crafty all-around scorer. He has a thick body, and isn't a great athlete, but his scoring ability has made him a coveted prospect by many programs. UCLA assistant coach Ed Schilling was his coach at Park Tudor last season, so UCLA has a pretty strong connection. It's going to be difficult, though, to get him away from the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Florida and Butler. Luckily, though, the UCLA staff won't expend too much extra time watching him, since he, Lyle and Lyles all play on the same Indiana AAU team.
Rashad Vaughn, 6-5, New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Cooper, #13 Nationally, #2 Shooting Guard. One of the elite wings in the nation, perhaps the best all-around scorer, UCLA has reached out to Vaughn, and he's showing interest. There is a UCLA staff connection with the family. It's going to be tough, though, competing against Kansas, North Carolina, and Louisville, who have all made Vaughn a top priority.
Kameron Chatman, 6-7, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, #31 Nationally, #8 Small Forward. Chatman has continued to grow, and could be 6-8. He might not be the best player in the west right now, but he could be the best prospect, with a great skill set and awareness, but with that ever-growing, long body. A few things, though, that are playing against UCLA: Chatman's godfather is an assistant coach at Washington, and the Huskies are thought to be the leaders, and the rumor is that Chatman will move back to Oregon for his senior season.
Isaiah Whitehead, 6-4, Brooklyn (New York) Lincoln. #43 Nationally, #8 Shooting Guard. A great all-around scorer who can shoot it and drive it, Whitehead has a connection to L.A. He expressed interest in UCLA with the last coaching staff and has reached out with the current one. It's really uncertain what kind of chance the Bruins would have with him, with the likes of Louisville and Kentucky serious about him.
Kelly Oubre, 6-6, Richmond (Tex.) George Bush, #60 Nationally, #16 Small Forward. A crafty lefty, who plays on the same AAU team as Winslow, Oubre has continued to garner more interest this spring. He has a connection to the L.A. area, and was being recruited by the previous UCLA staff.
Malik Pope, 6-7, Elk Grove (Calif.) Laguna Creek, #16 Nationally, #4 Small Forward. A kid with some immense upside – long, lean, athletic and the beginnings of a good skill set, Pope, though, might have some fit issues. He could end up at Findlay Prep next season, which could help to get him on the right path.
As we said, it's a down year for bigs in the west for 2014 – a year before one of the biggest big bumper crops in the west in recent memory with the 2015 class. With such a need on the roster for bigs, it's critical UCLA fills at least two, if not three or four spots, with good frontcourt talent. While you'd want it to be immediate-impact type of players, since UCLA will have just one big on the roster for 2014, that might be setting expectation a little too high. If UCLA can, say, get three bigs that will be able to significantly contribute to the program over the course of their four years that would be a big accomplishment for 2014 post recruiting.
Idrissa Diallo, 6-10, Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral. #24 Center. Diallo is a great-looking, big athlete who is still developing in terms of his skills and approach to the game. This staff just offered him, which is probably a good thing, since there just aren't many bigs available in the west and Diallo might be the most athletic among them. He's been injured lately, and missed the entire April Evaluation Period, so no one has seen him play recently. UCLA Assistant David Grace is close with his AAU team, so that will help.
Brekkott Chapman, 6-8, Roy (Utah). Perhaps the most skilled big in the west for 2014, Chapman hasn't been seen much since he's from Utah, but in April he got some exposure, and some offers, including one from UCLA. The most recent word is that the Bruins are among his short list of favorites. He's supposed to be coming to the Pangos Camp and intends to visit UCLA's campus while in L.A.
Myles Turner, 7-0, Euless (Tex.) Trinity. He is among the few prospects nationally that blew up the most in April. He broke his foot last year and didn't play AAU ball, so not many had seen him, but then blew up this spring. Many of the top programs have now gotten on him, and you can expect more by July. Luckily, since no one knew about him, UCLA was one of the first to recruit him aggressively, and have offered. He's a legit 7-0, and a good athlete, so he is a game-changer as a shot blocker, and then has so much upside in terms of every other aspect of the game. He also is a 4.0 student and an exemplary kid. In other words, Turner has UCLA written all over him, but the Bruins will be competing with the rest of the nation for him. Turner recently did a video interview.
Trey Lyles, 6-9, Indianapolis (Ind.) Arsenal Technical. #4 Nationally, #1 Power Forward. He's an extremely talented national post prospect, and has every big program on him. UCLA is recruiting the three from the Indiana Spiece AAU team ( along with Lyle and Bluiett), and those three have talked about being a package together. UCLA is a longshot but Lyles is mentioning the Bruins. He recently did a video interview.
Craig Victor, 6-8, New Orleans (Louisiana) St. Augustine, #19 Nationally, #4 Power Forward. Victor is an athletic big with great mobility and instincts. He was offered by the previous UCLA staff and has continued to show interest in UCLA with the new staff. The new staff recently reiterated a scholarship offer.
Payton Dastrup, 6-10, Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View, #41 Nationally, #5 Center. Dastrup is generally considered the best center in the west, but the issue is that he intends to go on his Mormon Mission out of high school, so that's a problem in spending a great deal of time recruiting him. But then, if you don't, what if he decides to not go on his Mission? And also, what if you want to recruit him in two years, when he returns from his Mission? You would think, given UCLA's immediate need for bodies, that they wouldn't spend too much time on Dastrup.
Zylan Cheatham, 6-7, Phoenix (Ariz.) Westwind, #74 Nationally, #14 Power Forward. He's an athletic power forward who can block shots and rebound, with a developing offensive game. He actually isn't a great shooter at this point, but can put the ball on the floor pretty well. Cheatham really wants a UCLA offer, but the Bruins haven't moved on him yet. Alford and Broussard recruited him at New Mexico, and Graves did at Oregon State, so there is a history. We think, with the dearth of bigs in the west, and once UCLA realizes its chances with the national prospects, it will probably realize it needs Cheatham; it's only a matter of whether UCLA will realize it too late.
Tavrion Dawson, 6-7, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. He's a nice-scoring post, who can face the basket and have his back to it. He's a bit undersized, but he's easily one of the best bigs in the west for 2014, and someone UCLA is aware of. At this point he's getting mostly mid-major interest but it's easy to see him getting offers from high-majors by the end of July.
Joe Furstinger, 6-9, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. Furstinger is a pretty skilled big, with some decent athleticism. He looked good this spring, and is starting to get high-major interest. He's on UCLA's list.
Thomas Welsh, 6-11, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. The developing big man has progressed considerably and, if he continues to do so, will be a solid college center down the line. He likes UCLA a great deal, but hasn't heard that much from the new Bruin staff. Arizona State and USC have offered. UCLA's staff was recruiting Welsh at their previous programs, so there is familiarity.
Reid Travis, 6-7, Minneapolis (Minn.) De La Salle, #95 Nationally, #24 Small Forward. Travis is billed as a small forward, but is probably a power forward, with a good, natural feel around the basket and a body that will be that of a power forward if it keeps going the way it's going. UCLA's David Grace has a connection with the AAU team, so UCLA is starting to scout him.
Isaac Haas, 7-1, Hokes Bluff (Ala.), #70 Nationally, #10 Center. Haas is a kid who has seen his game steadily improve, and his recruitment follow suit. He moves well for being a legit 7-1, and is a very smart on the floor. Well, and off it, being a 3.8 student. He's mostly heard from the South, like from Georgia, Alabama and UAB, but big boys like Kansas, Indiana and Louisville – and UCLA – are starting to get involved.