Hoops Recruiting Update

There is so much happening with potential transfers and 2014 spring signees, and the Evaluation Period this weekend...

It's a very busy time for UCLA basketball recruiting. The transfer market and 2014 spring recruiting is in full swing, and changing just about every day. Then, this weekend is the one Evaluation Period of the spring. Being usually two weekends (it was reduced because of Easter this year, with no weekend added), it crams so much evaluation into one weekend, and having so many events and prospects scattered across the country is challenging.

UCLA, too, doesn't have many scholarships to give overall. Right now it has 11 scholarship players for 2014-2015, with just one senior-to-be, Norman Powell. That means that any scholarship that UCLA gives to a transfer or 2014 spring signee, really, is one taken away from the 2015 class. So, in many ways, any 2014 prospect you would have to consider at least as good as any you would project getting in the 2015 class. In fact, in many ways, if you gave a scholarship to a transfer who would have to sit out due to transfer rules that player wouldn't be able to really impact on the court until the 2015-2016 season, just like a 2015 recruit. In some ways, though, a transfer might be preferable over a 2015 recruit, since you have seen him play in college, he'll be in your program for a year and able to practice before he's actually eligible.

What also might make a 2014 prospect, or a transfer who is immediately eligible (a grad transfer for instance), more attractive is that UCLA's roster for 2014-2015 season is a bit thin in the backcourt. There is Powell, Jordan Adams, Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford, but only Noah Allen after that, and it's still uncertain if Allen is capable of playing consistently at this level. So, having just three perimeter players going into a season wouldn't be good. UCLA was considered a bit thin last season, and that was with Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine. So, that could make a transfer with immediate eligibility or a 2014 prospect more valuable.

There is, too, that UCLA could have some scholarships open up for the 2015 class due to players transferring out of UCLA. We aren't basing this on any information but merely on logic – that Allen could be a transfer candidate. With a wave of talented frontcourt players coming in from the 2014 class, too, we would have to speculate that Wanaah Bail might get passed over in terms of playing time and consider leaving. The timing of a potential transfer is always tricky, too, since UCLA is recruiting the 2015 class now through fall, but it might not know if a current player wants to transfer until next spring.

You would have to bet that Adams will opt to leave after next season, his junior year. He considered it this year and you'd have to think he'd be more prepared to leave in a year, even if his draft stock doesn't improve dramatically.

So, UCLA has two scholarships currently open, and will get one when Powell graduates, so that's three for the 2015 class, with the possibility of more. Again, it's tough to recruit this way, trying to anticipate how many will be open, or how many more might be open, but you'd have to think that UCLA will recruit like it expects Adams to leave, and perhaps with one more scholarship opening up.

Then, like we said, there's the possibility of scholarships being filled by spring 2014 signees or transfers.

If UCLA gets caught with too many commitments and not enough scholarships it could always take Bryce Alford off scholarship, too.

Possibilities for Spring – 2014 Late Signees and Transfers

Danuel House
Danuel House, the 6-6 small forward who is transferring from Houston, has emerged as a potential target for UCLA. We're hearing UCLA has shown interest in House through intermediaries. House's camp has been keeping it fairly quiet since he received his release from Houston, and Houston placed some stipulations on the release – that House can't transfer to a D-1 school in Texas, any program in the American Athletic Conference or on Houston's upcoming schedule. That bodes well for UCLA, because we heard that SMU would have been an immediate favorite for House. House would have to sit a year, but he appears to be the pure small forward type that UCLA has lacked for a while, and he averaged 13 points per game last season as a sophomore.

Elijah Stewart, 6-5 shooting guard, Los Angeles Westchester. Stewart signed with LMU but was released from his NLI with the coaching change. He has developed into a high-major prospect, and many programs are on him from around the country since he received his release. His coach said they had reduced his list of choices to North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Texas, USC, Cincinnati, Boston College, Virginia and Oklahoma State, with only UNC having not offered yet. UCLA got on Stewart a bit late, and is now trying to make up ground. UCLA coaches made contact last week and are going to Dallas to have an in-home visit with Stewart's mother Tuesday. From what we've heard, Stewart prefers to leave the L.A. area, which is the reason USC is the only program among his top six right now from the west (USC has recruited him aggressively). We'll see if the in-home visit with the mother can improve UCLA's status. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and an assistant traveled to Westchester to watch Stewart Tuesday, but the latest is that they won't offer him. Since de-committing from LMU, Stewart has only visited USC.

There is one more transfer that is potentially a possibility, according to sources.

Again, as you have been able to tell from our recent reporting, the transfer market changes almost daily, so expect more possibilities, and things to change, over the next few weeks.

2015 Recruiting

As laid out above, it's uncertain just how many scholarships UCLA will have to give, but it's probably safe to expect at least three, even possibly four, for 2015.

Without any additions from transfers or more 2014 recruits, and assuming Adams leaves after next season, this is how the depth chart currently would look for 2015-2016:

UCLA Depth Chart - 2015-2016
PG
SG
SF
PF
C
Bryce Alford (JR)Isaac Hamilton (JR)Noah Allen (JR)Kevon Looney (SO)Tony Parker (SR)
Aaron Holiday (FR)Jonah Bolden (SO)Thomas Welsh (SO)
Wanaah Bail (JR)Gyorgy Goloman (SO)

With a pretty deep frontcourt and a fairly thin backcourt it stands to reason that UCLA should be prioritizing perimeter players. It's easy to envision UCLA bringing in 2-3 backcourt players, and just 1, or possibly 2, frontcourt players making up its 2015 class. Right now UCLA is looking for one elite big, but if two of them wanted to jump on board UCLA would be inclined to take them, even if it took away a ride from the backcourt. The theory is that perimeter players (except for point guards, of course) are so much easier to come by than bigs who can actually play, so you take a high-level big whenever you can get them.

You might notice by the list below, UCLA is emphasizing recruiting nationally. It's a much-debated topic on the BRO Premium Hoops Message Board (here's a recent thread discussing the topic), whether it's better to emphasize the west coast or dedicate a good deal of time to recruiting out-of-the-region prospects. UCLA clearly feels that it needs to recruit nationally to get the caliber of player it wants.

Heading into this weekend, here are the tournaments across the country we anticipate UCLA coaches will make it a priority to see: Where UCLA Recruits Will be This Weekenf.

We anticipate more names will be added to this list after this weekend, and the UCLA coaches have seen more prospects.

2015 Point Guards/Combo Guards

Aaron Holiday, 6-0, North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. COMMITTED. UCLA got a good prospect when Holiday committed during Winter. Whether he develops into a point guard or not is the question, but he has enough going for him in terms of his athleticism that he's a good addition to the future Bruin backcourt regardless. When he arrives in fall of 2015, he might be the first guy in many years who can actually defend an opposing point guard.

Tyler Dorsey, 6-3, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Dorsey is talented, even if he's more of a shooting guard than the point guard many people are trying to hype him to be. He's verbally committed to Arizona, but there are plenty of whispers going around that he might not be 100% committed. The word is if his commitment to Arizona falls through UCLA should be there to pick up the pieces.

WINGS

Eric Davis, 6-3, Saginaw (Mich.) Arthur Hill. Davis is considered by some to be a combo guard, but most think he's a shooting guard. UCLA has a connection to Davis, and has been out to see him since the Recruiting Period began last week. He's thought to be a long-time Michigan State lean.

Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown, 6-5, Marietta (Georgia) Wheeler. The #1 small forward in the nation, Brown has some big names after him, like Kansas, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and others, and the local programs have been all over him for a while. UCLA visited with Brown last week, and he expressed a desire to take an official visit to UCLA. The Bruins have a connection to Brown, but we'll see if it's enough for him to be serious about UCLA. It's thought that Brown is pretty wide open at this point. Here's a story Scout.com published today on Brown.

Ray Smith, 6-7, Las Vegas (Nev.). A very long, athletic prospect with an offensive game that made a big leap in the last year, Smith is the #29-ranked player in the nation with a bullet. UCLA has been recruiting him pretty aggressively in the last month, along with Arizona, Cal, USC and ASU, but we think his recruitment will go national by July and UCLA will have a whole new list of elite suitors to compete against for Smith.

Rex Pflueger, 6-4, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. A good shooter with some hops, Pflueger's game has progressed in the last year, with the shooting guard playing a more well-rounded game. In his high school season he displayed more of a team-oriented approach, with a good feel for passing the ball and playing defense. UCLA hasn't offered but we could see it happening, especially if UCLA doesn't get love from the national guys on this list. Pflueger's brother is a walk-on at USC.

King McClure, 6-3, Dallas (Tex.) Triple A Academy. The #45-ranked prospect in the nation, McClure is another than many consider a combo, but is more of a shooting guard, He's a strong scorer – a good shooter, but strong physically, which enables him to get to the basket. UCLA has been on him pretty aggressively, and recently went to Dallas to see him.

Cameron Walker, 6-6, Santa Maria (Calif.) Righetti. A good-shooting small forward with a smooth stroke, Walker garnered a UCLA offer, with offers from most of the Pac-12. He's an average athlete, and there's a question as to how good of a defender he is. He plays for Compton Magic, the AAU program with a long-time connection to UCLA assistant David Grace.

Jeremy Hemsley, 6-3, La Verne (Calif.) Damien. Hemsley is a very good athlete with a great feel, that UCLA hasn't recruited up until this point. We've heard, however, that the Bruins intend take a look at him this weekend.

BIGS

Ivan Rabb, 6-10, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. The #1 prospect in the nation, Rabb is a great talent, and unique because he probably is raw enough that he'll stay in college more than one year. Of course, his recruitment is crazy. UCLA had an in-home with him right when the Recruiting Period began. We think UCLA is on his list of five or so, but we'll see if they can make it to the finals.

Diamond Stone, 6-10, Milwaukee (Wisc.) Dominican. The #3 player in the nation and the #1 center, Stone is a talented, big-bodied kid with all the elite high-majors after him. UCLA had made some in-roads with him even before Steve Alford came to UCLA, and the new staff has continued to propagate the relationship. UCLA coaches saw him Monday, and the rumor is that the Bruins have a legit chance for him.

Stephen Zimmerman, 6-10, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. The #5-ranked player in the nation, Zimmerman has skills to step away from the basket and also good quickness for his size, which makes him a tough match-up. UCLA has been among his favorites for a long time, but we had heard that recently (the last few months) UCLA and Zimmerman might have been cooling on each other. Alford had an in-home visit with the Zimmermans last Friday and it reportedly went very well. The rumor is that UNLV leads.

Carlton Bragg, 6-8, Cleveland (Ohio) Villa Angela – St. Joseph. Bragg is a talented athlete that is strong and quick, and really a tough match-up, ranked the #8 player in the nation. UCLA has been on him since he visited campus last spring (when he was in L.A. for a tournament). UCLA went to see him on the first day of the Recruiting Period for a home visit, and then went to his school Monday. We haven't heard that UCLA has a special connection with Bragg like they do with other national prospects.

Chase Jeter, 6-9, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. The #18-ranked player in the nation, Jeter has some considerable upside, still looking very young physically, but improving and having grown just about every time we see him. He has elite programs pursuing him, and the feeling is that Duke leads. UCLA is probably on his short list, and the coaches went to see him right out of the gate of the Recruiting Period.

Chance Comanche
Chance Comanche, 6-10, Los Angeles View Park. The #27-ranked prospect in the nation, the best way to describe Comanche is a young Channing Frye, with long arms and a young body that keeps getting longer. His skills and ability to play physically also continue to develop. UCLA offered him about a month ago, and the word is that the entire staff had an in-home visit with him to show their seriousness about recruiting him. It's thought that UCLA might be a little late to the party, but perhaps, with Comanche being local, they can more easily make up ground.

D.J. Hogg, 6-8, Plano (Tex.) Plano West. Another skilled shooter, perhaps the best among the big men on this list. He, though, can play more physical inside. Ranked the #30 player in the nation. UCLA went to see him in early on in the Recruiting Period.

Bennie Boatwright, 6-8, Sun Valley (Calif.) Village Christian. Boatwright is a very good shooter, who likes to catch and shoot from the outside, and has gotten better putting the ball on the floor. He isn't a banger and is a limited athlete, and defensively he would be a question. He's the #65-ranked player in the nation, and UCLA offered. He was on campus a couple of weeks ago and the feeling is that UCLA is doing really well with him. The rumor is that he'll transfer to Mater Dei, and that would be four high schools in four years, which is a bit of a red flag.

Chimezie Metu, 6-8, Lawndale (Calif.). Metu is ranked nationally at #50, and he's a bouncy, long athlete. UCLA has made some contact with him but hasn't offered.

Trevor Manuel, 6-10, Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill. A skilled post that can shoot, he needs to continue to develop physically, but has the skill set that gives him some considerable upside. UCLA has been recruiting him.


***Also a nice little tidbit: UCLA is doing very well with an elite 2016 prospect (other than its committed guard, Lonzo Ball).***


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