UCLA needs players to fill out its roster for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but it also needs to have enough scholarships available to take advantage of the talent-loaded 2015 class in the west.
It's why, if you break down the players on scholarship by class, while UCLA might have six scholarships open to give to the 2014 class, it might be wise to take less. The reason being -- the 2015 class in the west is so vastly talented.
IF UCLA gets Wanaah Bail, the 6-8 forward who will arrive for an official visit today (Wednesday) at UCLA, and takes a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center in 2014, this is how the 2015 roster would look with just the returning players and no 2015 recruits plugged in:
PG: 2014 PG (SO)
SG: Zach LaVine (JR), Bryce Alford (JR), 2014 SG (SO)
SF: Jordan Adams (SR), Noah Allen (JR), 2014 SF (SO)
PF: Wanaah Bail (JR), 2014 PF (SO)
C: Tony Parker (SR), 2014 C (SO)
(*This is also discounting in that Kyle Anderson doesn't stay for his senior season.)
That would leave only two scholarships for the loaded 2015 class, which you definitely don't want to have happen. UCLA wouldn't even be taking advantage of the 2015 class with just three available scholarships, but should have at least four, if not five.
Here are some of the 2015 recruits UCLA is currently doing very well with or, in fact, is leading for early on:
Ivan Rabb, 6-9 PF, #2 Prospect in Nation
Stephen Zimmerman, 6-11 C, #5 Prospect in Nation
Tyler Dorsey, 6-4 SG, #11 Prospect in Nation
Aaron Holiday, 6-0 PG, #15 Prospect in Nation
Chance Comanche, 6-11 C, #25 Prospect in Nation
Chase Jeter, 6-8 C, #31 Prospect in Nation
Bennie Boatwright, 6-7 PF, #37 Prospect in Nation
Cameron Walker, 6-7 PF, #39 Prospect in Nation
Brodricks Jones, 6-9 PF, Top 100 Nationally
Chimezie Metu, 6-8 C, Top 100 Nationally
Again, these are the recruits that UCLA is doing particularly well with in the 2015 class already. They are such good prospects that UCLA would probably take each one immediately if they were part of the 2014 class. The list, too, could only expland; with the 2014 season under its belt, UCLA could be more established under Steve Alford and attract even more 2015 talent.
It's entirely conceivable that UCLA gets a 2015 class of:
PG: Aaron Holiday
SG: Tyler Dorsey
PF: Ivan Rabb
C: Stephen Zimmerman
It's also very easy to foresee adding Boatwright (who UCLA recently offered) or Walker (who unofficially visited UCLA Monday) to that list.
To bring in 4 recruits in 2015, UCLA would have to free up two scholarships; to bring in a five-man class it'd have to find three rides.
Where is it going to find the scholarships?
-- This is just speculation, but you'd have to bet that if Steve Alford had a chance to bring in an elite 2015 prospect he might give up his son's scholarship.
-- Not take five recruits for 2014, but possibly just four, or even three, and save one or two for 2015. It would mean the roster for 2014 would be at 10 or 11, however. It would be a tough decision; most coaches have the mindset that they need to do what they have to do to win immediately, and let the future sort itself out later. In this case, it would be not conserving rides for 2015. It could work out naturally, however, if UCLA only actually gets three or four prospects in the 2014 class.
-- Jordan Adams could go pro before his senior season. He isn't a great pro prospect, but by his junior season he could be such an accomplished scorer he very well could project as a first-rounder and choose to leave.
-- Zach LaVine is a great pro prospect and he could conceivably be capable of projecting as a Lottery Pick after his sophomore season.
-- There could be transfers. You'd have to think, with somewhat of a logjam at the SG/SF spots, someone in the next two years might not be getting the playing time they want and leave the program. But that would mean, in order to have the scholarship to give in time to recruit the 2015 class, UCLA would have to know a player was not going to be on the roster for the 2015 season by spring of 2014 (which is unlikely).
Or UCLA would merely have to roll the dice, recruit the class of 2015 next year like you're taking four or even five recruits, even sign them in November 2014 and gamble that the scholarships open up by fall 2015.
Bottom line: UCLA has a unique dilemma – having enough scholarships to accommodate the talented 2015 class in the west while also needing bodies for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The 2015 class is just too talented not to take huge advantage of it, and it's key for the future of Alford's program.