Hoops Recruiting News

A few players have taken unofficial visits to UCLA in the last couple of days, including a couple of seniors and a very promising underclassman who's very good friends with 2007 committed Bruin Taylor King...

In the aftermath of the July evaluation period, the UCLA basketball coaches have continued to recruit their targets, and are now starting to entertain players taking unofficial visits to campus.

As we reported, Taylor King, 6-6 FR SF/PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, verbally committed when he unofficially visited last week with his entire family.

King visited UCLA's campus again today, along with his father, and this time brought along with him his good friend, one of the best young post players in the west, Kevin Love, 6-7 FR PF/C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. As we reported when we first saw Love at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament, Love is an exceptional talent for an incoming freshman, with some of the best post moves of any post player in the west regardless of class. Love is the son of former NBAer Stan Love, and he and King have been close for a while, having played on some summer teams together. Love visited UCLA's campus with his mother, being escorted by UCLA assistant coach Kerry Keating.

Josh Shipp, 6-4 SR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, was seen on campus Tuesday, for an unofficial visit. UCLA has yet to officially offer Shipp, and the thought is if they did he'd probably be very serious about committing.

UCLA is, of course, waiting on Malik Hairston, 6-4 SR SG, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance, before it moves on Shipp. The general word on Hairston is that his leaders are still UCLA, Ohio State and Kansas, and that he'll probably arrange official visits to all three fairly quickly, possibly by mid-September.

Lorenzo Mata, 6-9 SR PF/C, South Gate (Calif.) High, was seen on campus for an unofficial visit Wednesday, attending UCLA's first football practice of the season with head UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland and assistant Ernie Zeigler.

Mata's academic situation, according to sources close to the high school, has changed fairly dramatically. Mata, as we've reported, needed to improve his grades and core course work considerably to even qualify by NCAA standards, much less those of UCLA. But South Gate sources say that Mata improved and replaced a few key core classes in his last semester as a junior, and has done a very good job at doing the same in a semester of summer school. Mata has always wanted to go to UCLA, but it was thought he'd be a longshot to get admitted. Halfway through the July evaluation period, a high school source said that UCLA laid it out for Mata what he'd need to do academically to get admitted to UCLA, and Mata has taken up the challenge. His core course work now is approaching passable, while he would still need to score a qualifying SAT score.

Just speculating, but it's more than likely UCLA's academic committee would only allow the basketball staff to take one among either Mata or David Burgess, 6-10 SR C, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge, because of academic issues.

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