Basketball Recruiting: The Big Six

UCLA basketball has focused its recruiting efforts primarily on six prospects -- the Big Six -- targeting shooting guards and a couple of big men...

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UCLA has trimmed down and focused its primary list of targets in basketball recruiting. There are six prospecs that UCLA is mainly focusing on. This is based on the fact that UCLA has five scholarships to give for the next year but two are earmarked for Jon Crispin, the shooting guard who will walk on this year after transferring from Penn State and get a scholarship the following year, and Mike Fey, the 6-11 center from Olympia, Washington, who had committed to UCLA last year but didn't qualify last spring. The word is that Fey still intends to go to UCLA. The rough plan is that he'll take some classes at a JC either in the Los Angeles area or in Washington while he re-takes the SAT or ACT and tries to achieve a qualifying test score. The first time either test is administered is in September (ACT) and October (SAT and ACT). If Fey qualifies, he'll more than likely enroll at UCLA next spring (Unless someone transfers or leaves the team, UCLA currently has filled its 13-scholaship limit and there isn't a scholarship for Fey to enroll earlier). If he comes to UCLA in spring, his scholarship counts against the next class, which is the class that UCLA is currently putting together.

So, that leaves UCLA with three scholarships to give. Their first need is at shooting guard, where they'll lose Billy Knight, Ray Young and Rico Hines. But UCLA also could use a big man, given that Dan Gadzuric and Matt Barnes are graduating, the uncertainty behind Fey, and the possibility that sophomore T.J. Cummings could conceivably put his name into the NBA draft if he has a good season. Cummings has looked very good in the summer Say No League and at the pick-up games against the pros in the Men's Gym. Cummings has always had going to the League as a top priority, so if there's a chance that he could get drafted fairly high, the word is that Cummings would go.

As of right now, UCLA is not recruiting point guards aggressively. The theory is that, with Cedric Bozeman, UCLA will have the point guard position filled for at least the next two years. UCLA will pursue a point guard as a top priority in the following class, the rising high school junior class. Also, if UCLA can get some at least some back-up minutes in future years from current redshirt freshman point guard Ryan Walcott it would go a long way in helping them with their point guard situation. The word is that new assistant Gerald Madkins is going to take Walcott on as a project.

There are other names on UCLA's list, but here are the Big Six, the six primary targets on UCLA's recruiting board:

Evan Burns, 6-6 SR SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. A top 15 national talent, Burns has been seen in the Men's Gym recently, where he more than held his own against the UCLA players and the pros. He's a very talented player, but of course, the question of whether he'll qualify hangs over his potential college career. His transcripts have yet to be seen, and probably won't be until spring. He also hasn't taken the SAT, but has said he's been studing for it for some time and intends to take it this fall. There is a chance that Burns could also go pro if he has an overwhelming high school senior season. Only two wings have gone pro in recent years successfully – Kobe Bryant and DeShawn Stevenson. Generally, it's very tough for a wing to go pro right out of high school, but the feeling is that, if Burns has a great senior year and gets good feedback from pro scouts, he could jump directly into the draft. The good money, right now, is on Burns going to college. It's also a good bet that, if he decides not to go to into the pro draft, he'll more than likely qualify. If he gets a qualifying test score this fall you can almost bank that he'll qualify. There is just too much riding on a talent this big for him not to qualify – that is, the pressure for Burns to do the classwork to get him qualified will be considerable. All indications are, that if he doesn't go pro and qualifies, he'll go to UCLA, and UCLA is essentially saving a scholarship for Burns in the spring.

Hassan Adams, 6-4 SR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Adams was on UCLA's campus Monday for an unofficial visit, along with his mother and his coach, and also participated in the pick-up games. On Adams' list is UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Tennessee and Boston College. UCLA has had to play catch up on this one, getting on Adams a little late in the game. The word is that UCLA is trailing Arizona, Cal and Kansas, but with the ability for them to hit him hard, being in their own backyard, and once UCLA gets someone in their recruiting sites they're pretty tough to beat, many close to the situation think UCLA will be a big player here. One snag, though: Good sources have said that Adams does not want to go wherever Evan Burns goes. The two are very familiar with each other, playing on rivals Westchester and Fairfax. There isn't bad blood between the two at all. In fact, they're friendly, but there is a feeling that there are only so many balls to go around and that Adams wouldn't be seeing many if he went where Burns did. Working this out is also a possibility. Adams intends to commit in the early signing period and Burns won't know what he's doing until spring. Academically, Adams has a solid GPA but needs to achieve a qualifying test score.

Bracey Wright, 6-2 SR SG, The Colony (Tex.) High. A top 25 national talent, he hasn't committed to Indiana yet and he's still on UCLA's list. The Bruins are still trying hard, trying to get him to take an official visit. The feeling is that, if they can get him on campus, they have a chance. As long as Wright doesn't commit to Indiana, there is a glimmer of hope.

Kelenna Azubuike, 6-5 SR SG/SF, Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian. Azubuike is ranked in the 20-40 range nationally. UCLA is doing well with Azubuike and, in fact, could be leading for him. Also on his list are Illinois, Oklahoma, Cal, Kentucky and Tennessee. UCLA will definitely get a visit, and the feeling is that they could possibly get a commitment with a good trip. UCLA will take only one among Adams, Wright and Azubuike to fill that shooting guard need.

Erazem Lorbek, 6-9 PF, Slovenia. To try to fill that big man need UCLA is pursuing Slovenian teenager Erazem Lorbek. Assistant coach Jim Saia spent several days in Europe in the second half of the July evaluation period scouting Lorbek. The word around about Lorbek is that he has a good chance, as a European, to qualify to play college basketball in the U.S., that is, it doesn't look like he'll have a problem with having played any pro ball so far. He won't be able to take the SAT test until probably January, so Lorbek is a pure spring signee candidate. Reportedly, he intends take official visits to UCLA and North Carolina, and those are the only two schools he's considering. UCLA has one of those scholarships earmarked for Lorbek.

Brad Buckman, 6-8 SR PF, Westlake (Tex.) High. UCLA is trying hard with Buckman, the athletic and skilled power forward from Texas. As has been written here, Buckman has some strong family ties to Texas and Texas Head Coach Rick Barnes, and generally the word among recruiting circles is that he's going to Texas. But UCLA is trying. They could very likely get an official visit from Buckman.

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