Update on Big Time News

There is more news on UCLA recruiting from the Big Time, including how Jordan Farmar continued to look outstanding, UCLA's view on emerging elite center prospect C.J. Giles, and the possibility of a new foreign prospect name...

Jordan Farmar, UCLA's committed point guard from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, had an outstanding Big Time, showing off his great passing ability while also putting on a shooting show in one game during the week.

Farmar didn't have a great game in the quarterfinal matchup that Pump N Run lost, but it shouldn't hurt his stock much in the national rankings since he's proven himself repeatedly so far this July. I think it's safe to say that he'll be ranked among the top 2-3 point guards in the country and among the top 25 players in the nation on most national recruiting lists.

Regardless of rankings, Farmar has shown that he's the point guard UCLA desperately needed. He's the best passing point guard from the west since Luke Ridnour, and his game is similar in many ways to Ridnour's. If you project UCLA having a Luke Ridnour-type, it's easy to imagine what kind of contributions he'll bring to the program in the upcoming years.

It's also frightening to consider the "what-if" UCLA didn't get Farmar. Being the point guard they needed, and being in UCLA's own backyard, it would have been miserable for the UCLA coaches to have watched him perform this well in July.

UCLA's committed wing, Arron Afflalo from Compton Centennial, had a fairly good tournament, even though he plays on a team that doesn't play well together, which limits his effectiveness. He played well in a couple of games, and just okay in a couple of others. One issue that arose this week is the news that Compton Centennial High School has lost its accreditation, which puts the academics of many of its players in question. The word is that Afflao should be fine, and that he'd be able to graduate with all of his classes – those taken previously and during his senior year – being accepted.

If there was one player who clearly sent a message to many programs, including UCLA, that he needs to be recruited heavily it was C.J. Giles, 6-10 SR C, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach.

Giles showed this week at the Big Time that he has some of the biggest upside of any center in his class in the nation. He's grown from 6-8ish to 6-10 in the last year and looks like he could continue to grow. He has big shoulders, and a good frame that could hold quite a bit more weight (already weighing 220ish). For his size, he has great quickness, mobility and feet -- already a very good shot blocker and rebounder. He was one of the best defensive centers at the Big Time, with a great natural ability to defend the post and alter shots. He even showed flashes of some nice offense, with a pretty face-up jumper and turn-around. There could be some scouts that might miss on Giles, since many base their evaluations merely on performance. But most good scouts who base their evaluations on projected potential recognize that Giles has a chance to be a pro.

When asked at the Big Time about his favorite schools, he said that Kansas, where his father played college ball, is now his leader. He also said Miami, USC, Arizona and Oregon rounded out his top five, and he was starting to get more interested in UCLA since he had heard UCLA was now interested in him.

Maarty Leunen, 6-8 SR PF/SF, Redmond (Ore.) High, is a good all-around player who probably projects as a solid contributor at the UCLA level. He's pretty skilled, shoots well and passes well, while an average athlete. Leunen did look tired, and did lack some of the explosiveness he had at the Nike Camp earlier in the month.

But it's absolutely no slam dunk that UCLA would even get Leunen. He did say that he grew up a UCLA fan, but sources indicate that for a while the in-state schools, Oregon and Oregon State, have had the inside track, and in fact, Oregon could have an edge. The four schools -- Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga and California -- have been on Leunen for a year, and UCLA is playing catch-up, It's not anything like it was with Afflalo or Farmar, who are two local L.A. kids.

David Burgess, 6-10 SR C, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. He didn't have a great Big Time tournament and many scouts might be moving him down their list. He was tired and he definitely didn't have his legs. He also came off a couple of weeks where he didn't play much, sitting on the bench for the Junior National Team overseas, which got him probably a little out of shape and rusty. But there is no question that Burgess isn't an elite level post player at this point, but he's certainly a better prospect than he showed this week at the Big Time. He is a better rebounder and defender than was evident. Also, as stated above, so many scouts base evaluations on performance rather than projection. Many don't know that Burgess has continued to grow and has actually trimmed down, which has continued to add to his athleticism. Burgess's body still has a ways to go, and his athleticism could continue to improve as he continues to slim down. He admitted that UCLA is his leader at this point and the general consensus from inside sources is that he'll be a Bruin.

Joaquim Noah, 6-10 SR PF/C, Brooklyn (New York) Polytech Prep. A Ryan Hollins look-a-like and even play-a-like, Noah has really improved his stock this summer and had a good Big Time showing. He might not be as athletic as Hollins, but is thicker at this stage, and looks to have a better ability to put on bulk, which Ben Howland likes. A recruiting update is forthcoming.

Al Horford, 6-8 SR PF/C, Grand Ledge (Mich.) High. Behind Giles, probably the best center/low post prospect among UCLA's potential targets that played in the Big Time. He's very long, agile, athletic and quick. He has an excellent body, at about 215 pounds right now but with the frame able to put on probably 25 more pounds of weight. He's probably a center in Howland's system, since Howland wants a power forward who has three-man skills. A recruiting update is coming soon.

Randolph Morris, 6-10 SR C, Fairburn (Georg.) Landmark Christian. He played well during the week, while getting buried sometimes on an amazingly talented Atlanta Celtics team that won the Big Time pretty easily. He continued to show very good athleticism to go along with that great, wide body. He's coming to the Pumps Best of Summer this week, so we'll get more looks at him and possibly get a recruiting update from him.

Shane Foster, 6-6 SR SF, Kenner (Louis.) Bonnabel. An athletic wing who also showed an improving jumper, Foster is someone who is definitely on UCLA's wing list. A recruiting update is on the way.

Josh Shipp, 6-5 SR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Shipp came down a bit from the level of play he displayed at the Nike Camp, nursing a few injuries. There is a question of his consistency since he played fairly disappointingly during his junior year at Fairfax, then to have a huge Nike Camp in early July. Shipp is a good shooter, and plays smart, while he isn't overly quick. UCLA likes him quite a bit, especially his good academics, and if Malik Hairston isn't a Bruin within a couple of months, UCLA could move on Shipp.

We mentioned on the message board that UCLA would probably check into the status of Latvian Andris Bedrins, 6-10 SR C, Fort Washington (Mary.) National Christian Academy. Bedrins appeared on the AAU team, DC Assault this week at the Big Time, and piqued interest. The word, though, is that Bedrins' intentions are to put his name into the NBA draft and only participated in the Big Time for NBA scouts to see him play.

There is other news about another foreign player, though. UCLA has interest in Australian Aaron Bruce, a 6-1 combo guard, who starred for the Australian team in Greece during the recent Junior games. Bruce has verbally committed to UC Irvine and it is planned for Bruce to come in this fall as part of the 2003 class, but he hasn't signed a National Letter of Intent. He has passed through the NCAA Clearing House and is fine academically. It's a question of whether UCLA will offer him after they continue to evaluate him.

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