Update on UCLA Hoops Recruiting

May 13 -- We break down future rosters, UCLA's needs and the focus on the 2017 class...

UCLA’s projected roster for the next couple of years has changed a bit with some recent recruiting developments.

UCLA got a commitment from a 2015 center prospect, Ikenna Okwarabizie, and a 2016 center prospect, Ike Anigbogu.

For the 2015-2016 season, this gives UCLA 11 scholarship players.

UCLA Depth Chart - 2015-2016
PG
SG
SF
PF
C
Bryce Alford (JR)Isaac Hamilton (JR)Noah Allen (JR)Jonah Bolden (SO)Tony Parker (SR)
Aaron Holiday (FR)Prince Ali (FR)Gyorgy Goloman (SO)Thomas Welsh (SO)
Alex Olesinski (FR)Ikenna Okwarabizie (SO)



From what we’ve heard, there is still a possibility that UCLA adds Maverick Rowan, the 6-6 small forward from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons. Rowan is a 2016 prospect, but has been trying to get re-classified to the 2015 class. If he does, we’ve continued to hear that it would be a UCLA/Louisville battle. But we’ve also heard it’s now looking unlikely (less than 50% of a chance) he does re-classify.

It would be interesting, though, if UCLA did add another player to the roster for the 2015-2016 season. Unless he was a graduate transfer it would put them officially over the 13-scholarship limit for the 2016-2017 season, with the commitment of Anigbogu. With his commitment, and with Lonzo Ball and Kobe Paras already committed from the 2016 class, UCLA is currently at 13 scholarships for the 2016-2017 season.

UCLA Depth Chart - 2016-2017
PG
SG
SF
PF
C
Bryce Alford (SR)Isaac Hamilton (SR)Noah Allen (SR)Jonah Bolden (JR)Thomas Welsh (JR)
Aaron Holiday (SO)Prince Ali (SO)Gyorgy Goloman (JR)Ikenna Okwarabizie (JR)
Lonzo Ball (FR)Kobe Paras (FR)Alex Olesinski (SO)Ike Anigbogu (FR)



There are possibilities of scholarships opening up. Jonah Bolden could possibly decide to go pro after the 2015-2016 season. Unlike with Kevon Looney, Bolden opting to go pro after the season is not a sure thing, but there is probably also a chance that Bolden could opt to play pro overseas. If we had to guess based on what we know, though, we have to believe there’s a good chance Bolden returns to UCLA for the 2016-2017 season.

While we haven’t heard that UCLA would consider dropping Paras, we have to speculate that it could be a possibility. While he has some talent, he hasn’t yet shown that he’s a UCLA-level player in many areas. With UCLA now having a good amount of players on the 2016-2017 roster that you wouldn’t project as being UCLA-level starters, that scholarship might be better used in the 2016 class on someone who does project to be that level, and perhaps is more of a pure small forward, since UCLA is clearly lacking that type of player.

UCLA, because of its full roster, could be spending quite a bit of time during the July Evaluation Period scouting and recruiting for the 2017 class. It currently has three scholarships to give to that class – the scholarships of Alford, Hamilton and Allen – and could get another if Bolden left after the 2016-2017 season (that would be after his second year actually playing in the program, so it would be entirely plausible). Also, the father of Lonzo Ball made it pretty clear that they intend for Ball to be one-and-done. There is always the possibility, too, of transfer. So UCLA clearly could have a class of five or even more for 2017.

In terms of needs, UCLA will lose a big portion of its backcourt in Alford and Hamilton (along with Allen), and that’s compounded if Ball leaves. The Bruins would definitely need backcourt bodies. It would also need at least one more frontcourt player that projects to be a UCLA-level starter, with just Welsh and Anigbogu on the roster of that caliber.

While this is a pretty big task – to recruit successfully for a very sizeable 2017 class – it’s fortunate that UCLA doesn’t have much recruiting to do for the 2016 class (it would only have something to do if it decides to find another option instead of Paras, and, although we think that would be logical, we think that’s unlikely). So it can spend a great deal of time right now concentrating on the 2017 class, giving it a great deal of a head start in recruiting that class.

The top 2017 targets:

Recruiting:
The younger brother of Lonzo, LiAngelo verbally committed to UCLA last month. He’s borderline as a big-impact player at UCLA, but is a good long-range shooter.

Recruiting:
He’s UCLA top priority right now in the 2017 class, the #1 point guard in the west, and #19 overall prospect in the nation. With him, UCLA’s backcourt future looks great. Without him, it’s a bit of a mystery. The long-held opinion is that UCLA is his leader; in fact, at one point, there were rumors he could commit, but we’ve now heard that Arizona is surging.

Recruiting:
Preston is talented, the #15-ranked prospect nationally, but there are some “fit” issues. It doesn’t seem like the issues are going to deter the recruitment, however, with Preston indicating UCLA is his leader.

Recruiting:
Hill is a strong athlete, with a great motor, and definitely a UCLA-starter-level prospect, ranked #33 in the country. UCLA offered this spring and he has indicated it was a big offer for him.

Recruiting:
This makes any long-time Bruin fan feel old. The son of former Bruin great Charles O’Bannon, he received a UCLA offer this spring. The word is that the Bruins will be among his favorites, but he’s open to other big-named schools.

Recruiting:
Riley is the #1 center prospect in the west, and the #20 prospect overall nationally in 2017. UCLA is on him hard right now, and there’s a feeling the Bruins are doing well with him.




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