Even though there are fewer recruits, obviously, it's a bit tougher with UCLA basketball right now since the staff is new.
The 2014 hoops recruiting class is critical, in two primary ways: it desperately needs a point guard and bigs.
What I see happening:
Point Guard -- Josh Perkins
Why: I think the combination of a long relationship with Alford, liking UCLA, and UCLA being a very good fit will be enough to fight off other elite programs.
In second: Jordan McLaughlin
Why: I think McLaughin has UCLA leading, but Perkins will probably pull the trigger first.
Other Possibility: Robert Cartwright. He's a great fit for UCLA, parents are UCLA people.
Bigs -- Thomas Welsh
Why: He's an L.A. kid, and academic kid, who has liked UCLA for a long time; UCLA will probably miss on national bigs. He'd be a great get for UCLA -- a four-year player who is going to put in work to get better, who won't transfer out if UCLA gets elite post talent in 2015. In a down year for bigs in the west, it's very lucky that Welsh has emerged.
Other Possibility: Really don't have one. I can't see a scenario in which UCLA gets another big. Perhaps I'll be surprised.
Wings -- Namon Wright
Why: I think Arizona will get others; I've heard he probably won't want to leave L.A. and I think he'll pick UCLA over USC. He's not a flashy type of player that national programs will watch for five minutes in AAU ball and decide they need him desperately.
After those three, in my opinion, it's completely wide open.
If I had to guess, it'd be one of these two:
Reid Travis, the combo forward from Minnesota.
Why: UCLA likes him, has offered, there's a connection with his AAU program; he doesn't have any other elite offers and he's the level of national player I could see the new staff having a legitimate shot at getting in 2014
Why: I could see them missing with other 3s and 4s, and Chapman showing fairly well in July, looking skilled and hitting shots. I've heard he likes UCLA quite a bit.
It's an interesting time in UCLA basketball recruiting. Without really an example of how Alford's teams will play at UCLA, the staff is having to sell recruits mostly on projecting the future. That can be a tough sell, especially when other programs are negative-recruiting you. I think if they have a good season in 2014, an over-achieving one in which the team looks like it pushes the ball, the staff will have something to then sell the 2015 class. But for 2014, it's a challenge. Like with Rashad Vaughn. He says he's now interested in UCLA, but wants to see the team play under Alford. The thing is, he's not going to have much time to watch UCLA play this season before committing in November.
Here are the simplified keys to Alford's future at UCLA:
-- Get at least 3 very solid 2014 recruits, including one very good point guard and a solid big
-- Over-achieve in the 2014 season, and project an image of pushing the ball
-- Then, with the 2013-2014 season to sell, clean up on the 2015 recruiting class, which is incredibly deep in the west
Now, as I said, perhaps the staff will surprise and over-achieve in recruiting 2014 and bring in more elite prospects than we might expect. A Justise Winslow, Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn, Craig Victor, Stanley Johnson or Kameron Chatman would qualify. I'd even be impressed if they could go across the country and get a very promising prospect like Jabari Craig.
Here are some ***RECENT RECRUITING TIDBITS***