In light of that, the new UCLA staff also finds itself in an interesting situation, trying to recruit with their program, their style of play, coaching approach and philosophy, etc., all being relatively unknown to recruits. As a result, their recruiting efforts, and the impending July Evaluation Period, has a bit of a getting-to-know-you feeling to it. It's a matter of many recruits getting to know the new UCLA coaching staff.
There's also a matter of the new UCLA coaching staff getting to know UCLA recruiting – that is, what it can and can't do in recruiting at UCLA.
Still finding its way a bit, we think UCLA has set a very ambitious agenda for itself in July. The staff's approach to recruiting has been the wide-net approach, going out nationally and showing interest in many recruits and seeing which ones they can actually get in the net. They are clearly putting in a great deal of time trying to get involved with many prospects. It very well could pay off; the new staff could show a particular acumen for recruiting nationally at UCLA that previous staffs didn't have. They could very well have legitimate shots at many of the national prospects they're actively recruiting. Given what we know, as we said, it's an ambitious agenda. Many times a staff is better-served by narrowing its list of recruits heading into July, so it can adequately watch, scout and babysit them during the month's evaluation period. The theory is that, during the July Evaluation Period, it's easy for a coaching staff to get stretched too thin, with so many prospects scattered across the country. The UCLA staff, however, has continued to expand its list.
It could get particularly challenging after the first Evaluation Period. The Peach Jam is this weekend, and that will conveniently bring together most of the Nike-affiliated prospects to one location. But then, for the next couple of weekends, those same players will disperse to a large extent and if UCLA is still attempting to recruit many of them, it will make it more difficult to follow so many. It definitely would have helped the UCLA staff if the NCAA had instituted its new rule – that four staff members can be "out" at one time – but the rule doesn't take effect until August 1st, strangely, after the July Evaluation Period.
Now, below are just the 2014 prospects UCLA will be tracking in July. Throw in the big number of 2015 prospects (which has many, since it's a loaded class) and 2016 and, again, it's an ambitious plan. We can only wait to see if the wide-net approach, given the staff's situation heading into its first season, is one that pays off.
So much rides on getting a point guard in 2014. As we've said before, UCLA hasn't brought in a high school point guard prospect in over 5 years. You'd think a clear opportunity for playing time – at UCLA -- would be appealing enough to end the drought this year, especially with some good talent at point guard in the west. If you look at UCLA's roster, it desperately needs a point guard (heck, it needs two, but we'll settle for one at this point), without a true point guard currently on the roster. It's also critical for UCLA in recruiting the rest of the class; if other prospects see that UCLA got a commitment from an elite point guard they'll be far more likely to jump on board themselves. There hasn't been a year when the recruitment of one position is as critical for a UCLA coaching staff as point guard is for this staff in 2014.
Josh Perkins, 6-2, Huntington (West Virginia) Huntington Prep
The #18-ranked player in the nation, Perkins emerged this spring as an elite prospect. The UCLA coaches have recruited him since they were at New Mexico, and have a good relationship. There are those close to the situation that believe UCLA leads, but there is a hold-up. Perkins is getting teased a bit by the likes of Kentucky and Connecticut, and even Duke. He has set his announcement date as August 25th, his birthday, and plans to visit Kentucky and Connecticut before then. He has already been to UCLA. The issue is whether Kentucky will offer (and the though is they won't since they have guys higher on their board at point guard). If they don't he'll more than likely opt for UCLA, even over Connecticut. He recently suffered a back injury, which could impact his recruitment; if he can't play for some of July that could affect how much Kentucky and Connecticut is able to see him, which could benefit UCLA. If things don't change substantially between now and August 25th (like with a Kentucky offer) you'd have to think UCLA would be the favorite.
Jordan McLaughlin, 5-11, Etiwanda (Calif.)
The nation's #24-ranked prospect, McLaughlin is an explosive athlete with skills. It's long been thought that UCLA leads for McLaughlin, but he plays it pretty close to the vest with his recruiting. His AAU influences, Cameron and Tracy Murray, have encouraged him to wait before deciding, from what we hear. He also likes Gonzaga quite a bit, and has visited. It will be interesting to see if Perkins' due date of August 25th has any influence on McLaughlin, whether it compels him to commit before, or doesn't influence him at all. We've had no indication that it has.
JaQuan Newton, 6-1, Philadelphia (Penn.) St. John Neumann
Newton is currently ranked the #8 shooting guard in the nation and described as a combo. He has offers from the likes of Georgetown, Syracuse, Xavier and Villanova, and UCLA started recruiting him at the end of June. He's close with a UCLA shooting guard target, Isaiah Whi. We haven't heard at all if UCLA has a chance with Newton.
Dominic Magee, 6-2, Harvey (Louisiana) Helen Cox Junior
Magee has done well this spring and summer and interest has started to pick up for him. He reportedly has offers from a number of elite high-majors. UCLA recently contacted him and will watch him in July.
Robert Cartwright, 6-1, La Canada (Calif.) Flintridge Prep
The nation's #72 ranked prospect, Cartwright is a true point guard with a great feel, passing ability and skills. He's not as athletic as others on this list, but he's not a poor athlete by any means. He has offers from Colorado, Utah, Oregon State and others. His parents went to UCLA, so he would obviously like UCLA to recruit him. The Bruins have had called him, but haven't actively recruited him as of yet.
Kyron Cartwright, 5-11, Compton (Calif.)
We consider this Cartwright the most under-recruited top prospect in the west for 2014. The lefty can create his own shot at all three levels, and has very good vision and ball skills. He's getting recruited right now at the Big West and WCC level, but don't be surprised if the Pac-12 gets involved. He'd be a good fall-back option for UCLA.
Projecting out UCLA's roster, it has fairly good depth at the shooting guard and small forward spots for the next couple of years. Wing recruiting, too, is always the easiest, since there are more of them than point guards or bigs, so UCLA could be more selective here than at point guard and bigs. It could also take two wings, if two guys they covet wanted to jump in the boat.
Namon Wright, 6-4 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Pacific Hills
Wright slipped to #58 in the national rankings, which we think was un-justified. Most on-lookers can't appreciate why Wright is such a good prospect. He has a few things that you just can't teach – very good lateral athleticism, a high motor and a desire to play defense. Heck, that sets him apart form most wings right there. He also has a very nice skill set, with a nice shot and passing ability. He sometimes is a bit unassertive in scoring, so many scouts don't appreciate him. We think Wright slipping in the minds of scouts, and possibly other coaching staffs, is the perfect thing for UCLA. The Bruins need to upgrade their backcourt athleticism, and need players who have the athleticism and desire to defend, among other things. Wright is the guy. Hopefully UCLA didn't sour on him either.
Stanley Johnson, 6-5 SF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
The nation's #8-ranked recruit for 2014, Johnson has continued to improve – and prove – himself. He doesn't have an idea small forward body, but he continues to work on it and improve it. Some scouts might have over-rated him a bit, since he's a straight ahead athlete without great lateral quickness but has continued to improve his outside set shot. He's actually similar in many ways to Shabazz Muhammad. In terms of recruiting, he continues to wear USC gear everywhere, and we continue to hear on the street that he's leaning toward the Trojans. If it's not USC, it's Arizona, but we've also heard he's not feeling as much love from the Wildcats. His mother came to UCLA's campus and met with the UCLA coaches and that apparently went well. We haven't heard that UCLA is among his leaders at this point.
Justise Winslow, 6-6 SF, Houston (Tex.) St. John's
The country's #13 prospect, Winslow is a point-forward type who can handle and pass the ball. The previous UCLA staff recruited him, and he recently visited UCLA's campus at the beginning of summer break and has the Bruins back on his list. Duke, though, has him as #1 priority, so it would be very hard to break through that. And Arizona is also thought to be doing well with him. At this point, UCLA has to be a long shot.
Isaiah Whitehead, 6-4 SG, Brooklyn (New York) Lincoln
Whitehead has improved his stock so far this spring and summer, showing an improved shot to go along with an ability to get to the rim. It has catapulted him to #17 in the nation, and many of the big names are now on him hard, like Louisville, Arizona and Syracuse. UCLA could get an official visit out of him, which could give them a chance.
Trevon Bluiett, 6-4 SF, Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor
The sharp-shooter is the #40-ranked player in the nation. Bluiett might have one of the best shooting strokes around, while he's limited athletically and has a thick body. He has all the Midwest powers on him, and UCLA is trying to use its Indiana connections. UCLA assistant Ed Schilling was his high school coach, which is a sign that if Bluiett was going to come to UCLA he would know it by now because of Schilling. We haven't heard anything to lead us to believe that UCLA is among his favorites.
Rashad Vaughn, 6-4 SG, New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Cooper
Both athletic and skilled, Vaughn is the 11th-ranked prospect in the nation. He took an unofficial visit to UCLA when he was in L.A. for the Pangos Camp, but UCLA has a great deal of ground to make up on many elite high majors that have been on him for a while. He has said he could wait until spring to decide, which would help UCLA. He's also close with Josh Perkins, which could help if Perkins becomes a Bruin. The inside word is that Vaughn is done for Michigan State, and that UCLA has no real chance.
Kameron Chatman, 6-7 SF, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
The #25-ranked player in the nation, Chatman, is a point forward type, with great ball-handling and passing skills. He very well could be the #1 prospect in the west, with his type of feel for the game and a body that keeps getting bigger and stretching out. He started out slowly in spring, since it had been a while since he played (sitting out his junior year at Poly), but he's really come on lately. He'll probably transfer back to his home in Oregon for his senior season. UCLA hasn't recruited him seriously.
Malik Pope, 6-8 SF, Elk Grove (Calif.) Laguna Creek
Pope is ranked the #26 prospect in the nation and he definitely has the talent for it. He is long athlete with the potential to have some outstanding skills. He might have academic and off-the-court issues. He keeps listing UCLA, and the Bruins aren't recruiting him much at this point. But if he turns it around a bit that could change.
Kelly Oubre, 6-6 SF, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep
Oubre parlayed a good spring to move up to the #28 prospect in the nation. He's a skilled lefty who has learned how to bring energy to every possession, and it's paid off. Some biggies are on him, like Louisville and Georgetown. UCLA has shown a bit of interest, and he's said he would like to visit.
Brekkott Chapman, 6-7 SF, Roy (Utah)
Chapman is #79 in the nation and has some potential. He has good skills, a nice shot, and good feel. His body is a bit narrow, and he probably doesn't develop into a power forward on the elite high-major level. Offensively he looks to be a pure face-the-basket guy, and if he could find a niche with a program, he could be a very effective player, being able to shoot over defenders with his size. He likes UCLA, and the UCLA coaches will be watching in July to determine whether to offer. He currently has offers from some Pac-12ers.
Trey Kell, 6-3 SG, San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine
A nice shooting wing with good skills and feel, Kell is just an average athlete. He has offers from Colorado, Oregon, Gonzaga and others, and UCLA will watch him in July.
After point guard recruiting, bigs recruiting is the next most critical for UCLA in 2014. UCLA will probably need to bring in 4 or 5 bigs combined in the 2014 and 2015 classes. Right now, the way it stands, for the 2014-2015 season, UCLA projects to having just two post players on its roster, Tony Parker and Wannah Bail.
The wide-net approach to recruiting is definitely being utilized in bigs recruiting, too. Looking at the list of the post players UCLA is recruiting, you can more or less sum it up to out-of-the-region guys that you would think UCLA has very little chance of getting -- and Welsh.
It's not entirely critical that UCLA get super-elite, big-impact bigs for 2014, since the 2015 class out west is loaded with post prospects. If it could at least get some solid, four-year types it would be considered a coup, given the staff being new and not having even a season to sell to prospects. Hopefully, UCLA will have a good season in 2013-2014 that it can sell to the elite bigs in the west for 2015.
Thomas Welsh, 6-11 C, Los Angeles Loyola
Welsh is now the #75-ranked prospect, and it's indicative of how much he's improved and his potential to improve more. He has worked so hard he's turned himself into a player, and has changed his athleticism, actually, while starting to grow into his body. He has gone from a mechanical type of player to a more smooth, fluid one who is very fundamentally sound. What's most impressive is how his athleticism has improved, especially around the rim. In regard to recruiting, UCLA was late getting on him, and only has done so during the non-evaluation period in May and June. It recently offered Welsh, which is good, but it's a question of whether it's too late. Welsh had been a UCLA kid for a while, going to games for years, and his family was (is) pro-UCLA. But other schools had recruited him seriously before the new UCLA staff and have pulled ahead. Cal has offered and could be the leader; if Stanford offered they very well could be. USC has been aggressive with him and he has shown interest in the Trojans. We'll see how much the UCLA staff prioritizes Welsh in July; that very well could make the difference and prove to Welsh that UCLA does indeed have him as one of their top targets and he's not just a fall-back option. He's a good fit for UCLA in 2014 – a good kid who works hard that could be your starting center in a couple of years, who's a good student and citizen. He's the type of kid a new staff needs to build a program.
Myles Turner, 6-11 C, Euless (Tex.) Trinity
Talking about blowing up this spring, no one has done it more than Turner. He went from unranked to the nation's #5-ranked player. He is a great athlete for his size, an accomplished shot blocker, who has now started to show some developing offense that looks like it comes naturally. Turner now has all the elite programs on him, while some still haven't seen him enough and are still late on him. UCLA might actually have a chance here since UCLA assistant David Grace had been recruiting him while he was at Oregon State and has a long relationship with him. We think, among all the national, elite center prospects, UCLA could have the best chance with Turner.
Kevon Looney, 6-8 PF, Milwaukee (Wisc.) Hamilton
The #9-ranked player in the nation, Looney is an athletic, rebounding monster, and is a good offensive player around the basket. He has mentioned UCLA, but other elite programs have been on him longer and harder. He'll narrow his list to a top five by the end of July; hopefully, if UCLA isn't on it, they get some indication before the end of July so they don't spend too much time watching him.
Craig Victor, 6-8 PF, New Orleans (Louisiana) St. Augustine
#14 in the country, Victor is an athletic, strong force around the basket. UCLA has been on the outside looking in, and just recenty Victor indicated that he was close to committing to Arizona.
Goodluck Okonoboh, 6-9 C, Wilbraham (Mass.) Wilbraham And Monson Academy
The nation's #37 prospect, UCLA just recently offered. It's competing with other schools that have offered – like Duke, Louisville, and Syracuse. He said he'd like to visit UCLA, but this has to be a longshot at this point.
Jabari Craig, 6-10 C, Tucker (Georgia)
Craig is a long athlete who looked very promising at the Pangos Camp in L.A., and then visited UCLA's campus. He has offers from Georgia, Auburn, LSU, Georgia Tech, Maryland, etc. Perhaps UCLA would stand out on that list as the only west coast school and appeal to him?
Reid Travis, 6-7 PF, Minneapolis (Minn.) De La Salle
The #44-ranked player nationally, Travis is a face-up four with good skills to stretch defenses and good athleticism. He's probably the other out-of-the-region big that UCLA has a chance to get, with Grace having connections with him. Hometown Minnesota has made him a big priority, and that could be hard to beat. Playing football (Travis is a legit QB prospect) could be a factor.
Leron Black, 6-7 PF, Memphis (Tenn.) White Staton
#23 in the nation, Black is a very good athlete with a developing skill set. With Ohio State, Florida and others having been on him for a while, UCLA is considered a long shot.
Zylan Cheatham, 6-7 PF, Phoenix (Ariz.) Westwind Academy
#62 in the nation, Cheatham is a good athlete with a high motor. He doesn't quite show as well as others in AAU environments because he isn't a great shooter – yet, because he does have a good stroke. UCLA coaches while at New Mexico and Oregon State recruited him, but they haven't pulled the trigger and offered him. It will be interesting to see if UCLA spends time watching Cheatham in July, which they need to do to have him as an option.
Isaac Haas, 7-0 C, Hokes Bluff (Ala.)
The #80 prospect in the nation, Haas has really come on this spring, and garnered interest from Stanford, Texas and more. Interestingly, Alabama Birmingham is the leader at the moment. UCLA is probably on the outside looking in.
Idrissa Diallo, 6-9 C, Los Angeles Cathedral
Diallo struggled in the spring, coming off an injury, and never really getting in the groove. UCLA offered him early in the spring, and he has indicated that he wants to stay close to home and that UCLA could be his best option. Diallo will have to show a completely different side this July to prove he's worthy of that UCLA offer.
Jacob Hammond, 6-9 C, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Oklahoma City Homeschool. Hammond is long and athletic, even though considerably raw. He likes UCLA, visited unofficially while out in the area for the Pangos Camp. He's on UCLA's list, but it will be interesting to see if the staff has time to watch him in July.
Isaiah Manderson, 6-9 C, Alpharetta (Georgia) Milton
A developing big man who is somewhat unknown but has still garnered some pretty impressive offers – from Maryland, Memphis, Georgia, Auburn and more. UCLA hasn't offered yet, but the intention is to watch him in July.