***Thursday Morning Update: UCLA is no longer recruiting Josh Perkins, the 6-2 point guard at Huntington (West Virginia) Huntington Prep. The word was that he was leaning heavily toward Gonzaga.
Where does UCLA go from there if it doesn't get Perkins? The Bruins have been going hard after newly-available Quentin Snider, the 6-1 prospect from Louisville (Kent.) Ballard, who decommitted from Louisville. Programs besides UCLA that have offered are Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Illinois, USC, Marquette and others, while Kansas, Michigan State and Indiana are showing interest. Snider has already arranged a UCLA visit for August 31st, and another official visit to Connecticut September 20th, along with unofficial visits to Memphis, Cincinnati and Illinois. He'll leave three official visits open just in case KU, MSCU or IU offer. There is a thought that he ultimately won't want to be too far from his home in Louisville, but we've heard that he's warming up a bit to the thought of a move to L.A. What is significant is that Snider is close with Bluiett, and while package deals seldom come to fruition, their connection can't hurt. UCLA will try very hard to end his recruitment with a verbal commitment on his UCLA visit at the end of this month.
The most significant development with Jordan McLaughlin, the 5-11 prospect from Etiwanda (Calif.), is that he's in the process of arranging an official visit with UCLA, according to some people close to the situation. ***Thursday Morning Update: McLaughlin's visit will be sometime in October. Another significant development in McLaughlin's recruitment is the commitment of Kevin Zabo, a 6-2 Canadian prospect who plays for Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Brewster Academy, to San Diego State. Zabo is thought to be a combo guard, but his commitment could still deter McLaughin from SDSU, which was thought to be the most recent leader for McLaughlin. If this does indeed keep McLaughlin from going to SDSU, the primary programs left on his list are UCLA, USC and Gonzaga.
The list of wing recruits still has a good amount of prospects on it that UCLA has a very legitimate shot to get. Perhaps the most prominent on that list is Trevon Bluiett, the 6-5 small forward from Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor. Sources close to the Bluiett recruitment are getting a feeling that UCLA is now leading for the wing. He has four leaders – UCLA, Michigan, Butler and Xavier, while also considering Arizona. He'll visit Michigan officially August 31st, and then Arizona the next weekend (September 7th), even though we've heard Arizona is on the outside looking in here. There are sources close to the situation that believe he'll be ready to commit after that, and that the Bruins are in the poll position for that commitment. UCLA has a connection to Bluiett, with UCLA assistant coach Ed Schilling having been Bluiett's most recent high school coach. But the connection goes deeper than that; people close to Steve Alford are also very close to the Bluiett family.
We've heard, in fact, Bluiett's family will be a major factor in his decision. The family is close and that is compelling for him to stay in the Midwest, and it was thought that Michigan was then the leader. But the latest is that the Bluiett family is now more open to moving to wherever Bluiett goes to college, and getting more comfortable with making the move to Los Angeles.
UCLA just recently got involved with James Blackmon, the 6-0 shooting guard from Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers, after he decommitted from Indiana Wednesday. UCLA offered Blackmon, so did many programs from around the country, including Michigan State, Florida, Connecticut, Marquette and Memphis, possibly North Carolina, and one significant one: Kentucky. UK is the alma mater of his father. James Blackmon, Sr., and it's now believed Kentucky will be difficult to beat. It was thought before the UK offer that UCLA had gotten in well with the Blackmons, but some close to the situation think all bets are off now that Kentucky is involved. Still, we've heard Blackmon, having just de-committed from IU (who the Blackmons say is still in the mix) after being committed to the Hoosiers since he was 14, isn't going to rush into another commitment, take his time and take some official visits.
On the west coast, UCLA has two wing prospects it's pursuing, Namon Wright, the 6-3 shooting guard from Los Angeles Pacific Hills, and Trey Kell, the 6-3 shooting guard from San Diego St. Augustine. Wright had seen his stock with some college coaches fall in July, but UCLA kept on him, so that could be a boost while recruiting him this fall. Kell has said he'll take his time, and has a list of eight – San Diego State, Oregon, Arizona, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, UCLA, USC and UC Irvine. He's indicated he wants to take as many visits as possible, so UCLA could be in it for the long haul with Kell. We've heard that San Diego State, which has been on him a long time, could be difficult to beat.
Then there are the big four remaining national wings UCLA is pursuing:
Stanley Johnson, 6-5, Santa Ana Calif.) Mater Dei. He has said he's waiting until spring to decide, which could help UCLA, since the new UCLA staff could then have a season under their belt to sell. He has said he'll officially visit Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon and Kansas, and unofficially visit UCLA and USC. The thought now is that Arizona and Kentucky are the leaders, but it's a long way until spring.
Isaiah Whitehead, 6-3 CG, Brooklyn (New York) Lincoln. Whitehead has said he plans to visit UCLA, along with Syracuse and Arizona, and it's believed local Syracuse is the favorite. But if UCLA gets him on an official visit that has to significantly help their chances. St. John's is also aggressively recruiting him, and Indiana just recently offered.
Justise Winslow, 6-5, Houston (Tex.) St. John's School. Winslow told us recently that he's still at eight – UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Arizona, Texas A&M and Stanford, and he plans to trim his list by the end of August. Arizona and Kentucky are always considered the leaders, but Steve Alford has a connection to the Winslow family, and there are family members in L.A. Most significant recently was Winslow saying he might wait until spring to commit.
Rashad Vaughn, 6-4 SG, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep. Vaughn said he's in the process of narrowing his list. Before the narrowing, the list stood at Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Baylor, Iowa State, Minnesota (his home state), Connecticut, UNLV and UCLA. He has indicated that Kansas and Kentucky are standing out, while North Carolina is recruiting him hard. UCLA is thought to be a longshot here.
Michael Humphrey, 6-9 center, Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnyslope. Humphrey, as we had reported earlier, is taking his recruitment slowly now after blowing up in July. He has a list of 13 programs he's still considering – UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Stanford, California, Louisville, Notre Dame, Oregon Virginia, Vanderbilt, Columbia and Grand Canyon. He just took unofficial visits to Arizona, Arizona State and Grand Canyon. UCLA assistant David Grace used to coach at Humphrey's AAU program, the Arizona Magic, so he has strong ties to the recruitment. In late July, we had heard UCLA was leading, but this is going to be a matter of UCLA holding off the likes of Louisville, Indiana, Stanford, and Arizona through November, when he says he's going to decide.
Thomas Welsh, 6-11 center, Los Angeles Loyola. Welsh unofficially was on UCLA's campus Tuesday, as part of his unofficial visit tour. He visited Colorado last week and plans to see the campuses of all the schools he's considering. He's on a slow-roll in his recruitment, wanting to take at least a few weeks to put together a solid list of programs he can focus on for the rest of the way to November. We've heard that Cal and Notre Dame, who have been on Welsh a long time, will be hard to beat, and that Stanford is now hitting him hard. UCLA has been on him aggressively since July.
Reid Travis, 6-6 power forward, Minneapolis (Minn.) De La Salle. He's taken one official visit to Gonzaga, and has a UCLA visit tentatively planned for August 31st when the Bruins play their football season opener at the Rose Bowl. He has also said he plans to visit Stanford, and we're hearing that the Cardinal is going to be a big contender here. Hometown Minnesota is putting on a great deal of pressure, and Michigan State, Georgetown and Notre Dame are all pressing for visits. It's a very good sign, though, that he plans to visit UCLA.
Kevon Looney, 6-8 power forward, Milwaukee (Wisc.) Hamilton. Looney says he plans to officially visit Duke, UCLA, Florida, Michigan State and Tennessee, and unofficially visit Wisconsin before he makes his decision. Duke and Florida are thought to be his leaders.
Idrissa Diallo, 6-9 center, Los Angeles Cathedral. The Bruins are still on the L.A. center, and he has said previously that he would prefer to stay in the L.A. área for college. We know that Cal is recruiting him pretty aggressively.
Chinanu Onuaku, 6-9 center, Upper Marlboro (Maryland) Riverdale Baptist. UCLA has been trying to get involved with Onuaku since late July and is playing catch-up. Nearby Maryland appears to have the inside edge, but there is also Georgetown, Connecticut, Virginia and Xavier to deal with.
Payton Dastrup, 6-9 center, Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View. Dastrup just cut his list to seven – UCLA, Kansas, BYU, Florida, Ohio State, Virginia and Arizona. He said he wants to officially visit KU, BYU, Florida, Ohio State and Virginia, and take unofficial visits to Arizona and UCLA. He is LDS and plans on going on his Mission right out of high school. That means that, after his two-year Mission, his recruitment will re-open.