July Eval Period #3: Day Four

There's good news on a national prospect, and two Bruin targets square off epically...

Perhaps the best UCLA-related rumor we heard Saturday was that UCLA and Stanford are the leaders for Reid Travis, the 6-6 2014 power forward from Minnesota. The information came from a second-hand source, not one of our known, reliable ones, but it's encouraging, especially since Duke had offered Travis, hometown Minnesota is hitting him hard and we had heard previously that Michigan State was going to be a big player. UCLA Assistant David Grace is in Orlando watching Travis, along with 2014 wing Justise Winslow, 2014 point guard JaQuan Newton and 2014 post Leron Black.

On the west coast front, we heard from sources that San Diego State is a very strong contender for Jordan McLaughlin, the 2014 point guard from Etiwanda. It seems that most observers mention UCLA, USC or even Gonzaga, but we heard Saturday that SDSU is seriously in with McLaughlin. As we reported Saturday, he is pretty certain he's visiting USC September 7th, but doesn't have any other visits planned. Head Coach Steve Alford and assistant Ed Schilling watched McLaughlin Saturday in Las Vegas, and he generally didn't stand out much in that game. McLaughlin looks tired and off his game, even though we heard he had a good game Friday.

In Las Vegas, the UCLA coaches caught both games of 2014 small forward Trevon Bluiett. He had five threes at the half in his second game Saturday, but his team, Indiana Elite, lost and is out of the Adidas Super 64.

We were told that Isaiah Whitehead, the 2014 combo guard, has three visits he knows he'll take – to UCLA, Syracuse, and Arizona. It's very good news that he'll officially visit UCLA, since as we said a UCLA visit can have a big impact on prospects from outside the region. It's believed that Syracuse, however, will be difficult to beat.

Whitehead went head to head with Trey Kell, the 2014 6-3 shooting guard from San Diego, who UCLA offered within the last couple of days. Kell, known for his outside shooting, didn't have his jumper going down, but he created offense off the dribble, and played some decent defense. UCLA's Schilling was in attendance.

UCLA coaches watched both Rockfish games Saturday. The first game featured two UCLA targets going up against each other, 6-11 Thomas Welsh and 6-10 Myles Turner, in what was easily the best match-up we saw in July. The two played very well against each other, but you'd have to give the edge to Welsh. He scored 17 points in the first half, finishing with 24, scoring just about every time he touched the ball, on turn-arounds, short jumpers, etc. He also defended Turner very well, being slightly bigger but also stronger, so he was able to body-up well on Turner to keep him from getting in a rhythm around the basket. Turner looked good, too, stepping out and hitting a couple of threes, and being active around the basket. Turner looked good, too, stepping out and hitting a couple of threes, and being active in the paint. It was a break-out type of performance for Welsh, even though that implies he hadn't shown that kind of game previously, but we on the west coast had seen it. It showed to national eyes that Welsh should probably be a top 40ish national prospect, playing so well against the nation's #5 overall player in Turner. It might not have been a good development for UCLA, however, since it could very well get other big-named programs on Welsh hard.

Robert Cartwright, Welsh's teammate and point guard, had a very good day himself Saturday, with many coaches from different programs watching. He was hitting his outside shot consistently, running Rockfish's offense with precision while also playing his energetic defense. We're hearing that USC could be on the verge of offering Cartwright. For UCLA, at this point, with it uncertain with McLaughlin and Josh Perkins, and Cartwright arguably being as valuable a point guard prospect as either of them, it would make sense for the Bruins to offer Cartwright, recruit him hard and just take the first to commit from Perkins, McLaughlin and Cartwright. UCLA has some ground to make up for both Cartwright and Welsh and offering Cartwright could really help. Cartwright told us he'd very much like to play with Welsh in college.

UCLA coaches also saw Rashad Vaughn, the 6-4 2014 shooting guard, but the word continues to be that UCLA doesn't have much of a chance. They watched Kevon Looney, the 2014 post, and then were also front and center for all of the games of two 2015 prospects, center Stephen Zimmerman and guard Tyler Dorsey. Alford watched Dorsey and his Belmont Shore team play against 2015 center Chance Comanche, and Comanche played exceptionally well in that game. On the adjacent court was 2015 guard Jeremy Hemsley.

Teams with UCLA prospects remaining alive in Vegas are, in fact, Belmont Shore, with Dorsey; Looney's Milwaukee Rebels; the Oakland Soldiers, which features 2014 wing Stanley Johnson and 2015 post Ivan Rabb; and Compton Magic 16s, with Cameron Walker, Rex Pflueger and Sedrick Barefield. It's clear Alford and his staff have Johnson as a top priority, making sure they caught every appearance by Johnson this week playing with the Soldiers or his Mater Dei team in Vegas.

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