Eval Period Recap of 2014 Prospects

Most of UCLA's targets are from outside of the west, and if they get just a couple of them it will be a considerable coup for Steve Alford and his staff...

The biggest development out of the first July Evaluation Period was the blowing-up of Michael Humphrey, the 6-9 post form Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnyslope. Humphrey played so well at the Reebok Camp in Philly that he quickly garnered some elite high-major offers, from Arizona, Indiana, Texas, UCLA and others. Humphrey plays for the Arizona Magic, which also happens to be the former AAU organization of UCLA assistant coach David Grace, so UCLA should have an inside track with Humphrey. He previously had had many of the Ivies after him, since he has that level of academics. From what we hear, his family is pretty sharp and more than likely they'll want to take their time and weigh their options.

UCLA's main wing targets emerged as: Justise Winslow, the 6-6 SF from Houston ranked #13 in the nation; Rashad Vaughn, the 6-3 shooting guard from Minnesota, ranked #11; Trevon Bluiett, the 6-3 small forward from Indiana ranked #40, and Stanley Johnson, the 6-5 small forward from Mater Dei, #8.

On the big front, the priorities are now Humphrey, Myles Turner, the 6-11 center from Texas, ranked #5; the 6-8 power forward from Louisiana, Craig Victor, #14; the 6-8 Wisconsin power forward Kevon Looney, #9; 6-7 Minnesota power forward Reid Travis, #44 and 7-0 Alabama center Isaac Haas, #80.

Some tidbits on the primary targets:

-- UCLA might be in the top three for Winslow, along with Duke and Arizona.

-- The inside word is that Vaughn is leaning heavily to Michigan State. He'll wait until spring, so that's a long time and many things can happen.

-- UCLA is hoping the connection with Bluiett with pay off. UCLA assistant Ed Schilling is his former high school coach, and there are even more connections with the Blueitt family. Publicly Blueitt mentions Michigan, Indiana, Butler, Notre Dame and others.

-- Johnson might have had the signature performance of the first eval period, when he scored 33 points at the Peach Jam. Reportedly, he has become Kentucky's #1 target. According to sources, USC continues to look good for him.

-- UCLA's Steve Alford intended to take the private plane to Dallas to watch Turner play in one game, but Turner was nicked up and didn't play. Turner has blown up so much, rocketing from unranked to #5, that he has a huge list of the most prestigious programs in the country on him. UCLA has a long-time connection, so we'll see if it can pull out this one.

-- UCLA coaches spent a good amount of time watching Victor in Indianapolis at the adidas Invitational. Victor had made strong indications before the first Eval Period that he was close to committing to Arizona.

-- Haas has indicated that UCLA will be one of his five official visits. The word is that currently Alabama-Birmingham leads for him.

As you can see, for 2014, UCLA is definitely prioritizing non west-coast prospects, with only two among those just listed (Johnson and Humphrey) from the west. If they could get a couple of commitments from that list it would be considered a big win for UCLA recruiting and Alford and his staff.

Among point guards, the priorities continue to be Josh Perkins, the 6-2 prospect from Colorado and the 5-11 Jordan McLaughlin from Etiwanda. Nothing has changed much on the recruiting front for either after the first Eval Period.

Interestingly, McLaughlin didn't have a great first period. He used to flash some ridiculous athleticism, being able to get into the lane with amazing body control and quickness, and then explode to the rim. We didn't see that this week from McLaughlin. He has always been a bit of a work-in-progress in terms of mastering the point guard position, and he's still at the beginning of the learning curve.

In fact, Robert Cartwright, the 6-2 point guard prospect from La Canada Flintridge, if he continues to play the way he did during the first evaluation period, could be at least as good a prospect. Cartwright has been exceptional, perhaps the prospect with the best pure point guard abilities in the west, combined with a great skill set and a high motor and competitiveness. He's not incredibly athletic, so that's limited him a bit in the past, but he makes up for it – like on the defensive end when he works hard and becomes a very good defender – and he bring all of this so consistently to the floor.

While Cartwright was very impressive in games played in front of the UCLA coaches, we don't think that has changed UCLA's point guard target list. In the meantime, Cartwright received an offer from Stanford, which many close to the situation feel could be pretty compelling for him. Harvard is also actually the other main consideration for him. USC has yet to offer Cartwright, but they're recruiting him, and it's believed the Trojans are doing well with him. If they did offer they could possibly move to the top of Cartwright's list. Both of Cartwright's parents are UCLA alumni.

More notes on UCLA prospects:

-- Even though he's considered an elite prospect, we haven't heard the name of Isaiah Whitehead, the shooting guard from New York, mentioned with UCLA much. Whitehead played in a tournament in New York and UCLA didn't get out to see him.

-- We think that Namon Wright, the 6-3 shooting guard from Los Angeles, could be less of a priority for UCLA.

-- Thomas Welsh, the 6-11 center from Los Angeles, garnered a UCLA offer during the down period a week or so ago, and UCLA coaches attended his games Saturday and Sunday. Welsh didn't play well in one game but pretty good in a couple of others, but he's not the type of player that will blow you away with dramatic dunks. He also doesn't run the floor well, especially late in the game, so if you're a program that envisions itself running, he might not be the right guy. Welsh, though, is probably the best true center in the west for 2014. We'll see how much time UCLA spends watching and recruiting Welsh as an indication of its interest level.

-- Idrissa Diallo, the 6-9 center from Los Angeles, who has a UCLA offer, has been pretty quiet this spring and summer. There is a connection between Grace and Idiallo's AAU team, so we think that Idiallo could be a name UCLA strongly considers after all the dust has settled.

-- Trey Kell, the 6-3 shooting guard from San Diego, is another we could see UCLA getting more seriously involved with later. Kell is perhaps the best shooter in the west, with a very pretty, consistent outside stroke. He's also smart and has a very good feel for the game. His average athleticism limits him, and he plays at a medium pace, without a real high gear in the engine. We think that UCLA could be very enamored of his shooting ability when it's all said and done.

-- Brekkott Chapman, the 6-8 SF/PF from Utah, is another that UCLA continues to watch that they haven't offered, but we feel they could get more seriously involved with later. Chapman had an up-and-down tournament in L.A. over the weekend. He was coming off a cold, so that restricted him. He, though, is a streaky shooter, with a low release, who is far more comfortable floating on the outside than mixing it up inside. He can get hot shooting the ball, so we feel he'll stay on UCLA's list.

D.J. Wilson, a 6-8 PF from Sacramento, is a 2014 prospect to watch. Wilson is intriguing, having grown 3 inches in the last year. He still looks like a baby, too, with a young face and body. He actually has had some physical problems with his back and knees, dealing with the growing pains. Since he was a wing before, he has wing-type skills but now is also not afraid to mix it up inside. If he continues to grow, and then gets more comfortable with his body, he has a chance to be an elite high-major. UCLA assistant Grace did watch him in one game.


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