Jon Lopez/Nike

Resetting UCLA Hoops Recruiting

Apr. 23 -- With so much up in the air over UCLA's roster -- for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, we take a new look at UCLA's recruiting situation...

2017 Commitments/Signees

http://www.scout.com/player/185842-kris-wilkes?s=12

http://www.scout.com/player/185850-jaylen-hands?s=12

http://www.scout.com/player/185837-cody-riley?s=12

http://www.scout.com/player/192639-jalen-hill?s=12

http://www.scout.com/player/185989-liangelo-ball?s=12

http://www.scout.com/player/200289-chris-smith?s=12

2017 Recruiting

The depth chart above, of course, assumes Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh will pull their names out of the NBA Draft and return to UCLA next season. If this were the case, UCLA will have a scholarship open for the 2017-2018 season. 

Of course, UCLA could use an additional backcourt player, and they could dabble in the grad transfer market. We're a little skeptical whether UCLA is recruiting M.J. Walker heavily, and in any case, Walker is looking likely to end up at Georgia Tech.

Just looking at the market of guys available, and UCLA's chances, we'd say it's still unlikely UCLA signs another guy in this class. You wouldn't want to just take a body to take a body either, considering there are already a few roster spots taken up by guys who don't project to ever play much at this level. UCLA is also in the mix for Chase Jeter, the transfer from Duke, and the Bruins are probably one of the four main contenders. We've heard that UCLA is his preferred destination, and he'd be a good addition, given that UCLA need another center for the 2018 season, especially one with experience like Jeter.  The argument against it: UCLA needs perimeter players, obviously, and he would fill up UCLA's scholarship allotment for next year anyway, not even be eligible for the 2017 season, and make the roster a little backcourt light.  But there is always a possibility that UCLA could get Jeter and then another spot would open up for 2017, and they could take add another perimeter player from those mentioned above.  

This is college basketball, so take the above with a gigantic grain of salt. It's a virtual certainty that the 2018 depth chart will look wildly dissimilar from this, even if you take out any potential newcomers. 

We think it's particularly unlikely that Aaron Holiday stays through his senior year. Having put his name in the draft this spring, if he does return it's just hard to imagine him sticking it out through four years, especially if he starts at point guard next year and looks good. We would also speculate that of the two best talents in UCLA's 2017 class, Kris Wilkes or Jaylen Hands, at least one of them could be a one-and-done. While neither projects as that at this point, this is UCLA, and guys who are projected as fringe first-round picks have a way of making the aggressive decision in terms of the NFL Draft.

Assuming we travel back in time to 1960, UCLA would have four scholarships to give in 2018, but given that it is 2017, the Bruins might have more than four to give, and they should probably recruit as if they'll have five. 

2018 Recruiting

Looking at the situation, it'd be reasonable for UCLA to look to take one point, a couple of wings, and a couple of bigs. That mix could change based on what Wilkes does (if he stays, you could maybe look into taking three bigs, given the talent at power forward in this class, and just one wing), but the most likely split feels like 1/2/2. 

Point Guards

There's a reasonable chance that UCLA only has one point guard returning on the roster for 2018, and we wouldn't rule out the possibility that the Bruins have none. Holiday, like we said, could easily leave after his junior year, and Hands might be so athletic and have so much upside that he's draftable in the first round after his first year. If we had to guess, we'd say UCLA retains one of them (most likely Hands), but it's no sure thing.

Given that, nailing down a high-level point guard in this class is critical. The prospects really haven't changed much since our February update -- UCLA is still pursuing the three national prospects: JaVonte Smart (the No. 1 guy in the class from Louisiana), Darius Garland (No. 3 from Tennessee), and Tre Jones (No. 7). Everything we continue to hear is that UCLA feels good about its chances with Jones, who visited UCLA in January, but we're hearing from national sources that the Bruins aren't even in his top tier, which is led by Duke. 

http://www.scout.com/player/200212-tre-jones?s=12

UCLA is also recruiting locally some, and it's likely that the Bruins would take Brandon Williams if he wants to come, but he's probably looking more at Arizona. We'd still like to see UCLA kick the tires on Elijah Hardy, who's a little less prominent than the other prospects on this list. As Tracy wrote in February, he's a high-level athlete who's also a pass-first point guard, and would be a nice fit for UCLA.

http://www.scout.com/player/202852-brandon-williams?s=12

Wings

UCLA might have a group that includes Kris WilkesPrince AliLiAngelo Ball, and Chris Smith for 2018, but even if all of those guys are there, that's three guys who are more small forwards than anything and then Ali as the lone real shooting guard. There's also a chance that Wilkes ends up a one-and-done, which removes the most talented prospect from that group. In any case, getting two shooting guard types is an obvious priority, and UCLA recently getting a commitment from a solid shooting guard prospect, David Singleton, the No. 58-ranked prospect in the nation for 2018, was a very positive development.  

UCLA is going after a lot of guys nationally, the most likely of which is five-star Gerald Liddell, who looks more like a small forward but can defend both 2s and 3s. He's getting looks from a lot of the usual suspects, including Arizona, and he'll likely have a lot of pressure to stay in Texas as well. In any case, UCLA has done a nice job here so far and is still right in the mix.

http://www.scout.com/player/198827-gerald-liddell?s=12

Among the more realistic local guys, Jules Bernard, the four-star guard out of Los Angeles Windward, projects as a likely UCLA pickup at some point. The Bruins offered him early and have stayed on him to an extent, even while they've been prioritizing some national guys. Bernard has enough people around him who'll want him to stay local that it's unlikely he decides to leave the city for college. Bernard can play the three, too, so he fits well with Singleton, and from what we're hearing the Bruins would be happy with a 2018 class of Bernard and Singleton.  

http://www.scout.com/player/193167-jules-bernard?s=12

UCLA could also elect to pursue Bryce Hamilton, the last of a long line of Hamiltons, and he's a decent prospect. SF Tevian Jones and SG Payton Moore have both regressed a bit as prospects of late, though Jones still has a good deal of upside. Moore, though, doesn't project as a UCLA-level guy at this point. Still, each would be guys to watch over the next several months.

Bigs

The situation really hasn't changed in terms of bigs recruiting in recent months: the Bruins are still looking good for a variety of excellent prospects in the West. Sources around the program indicate that UCLA is the leader for the nation's No. 1 prospect, Marvin Bagley, but we hear he's still open to other programs and isn't by any means a done deal to UCLA. 

http://www.scout.com/player/193060-marvin-bagley?s=12

The most affected by Bagley's decision is probably going to be Jordan Brown. The No. 3 overall power forward also has UCLA high on his list, but he's probably not going to go to the same school as Bagley, even if they could play alongside each other as posts. 

UCLA is involved with Zion Williamson, the nation's No. 2 prospect, but that will be a long, difficult battle;  Miles Norris, the No. 22 prospect in the nation, and combo forward Taeshon Cherry, who comes in nationally at No. 23. 

In terms of centers, UCLA is in the mix for Bol Bol, who says UCLA is among the schools recruiting him hardest. Given the situation with the power forwards, it's hard to see UCLA dropping too far below Bol among centers, since the Bruins probably have an absolute max of three scholarships to give out to bigs, and the'd likely prefer to keep it to two. As such, if UCLA gets, say, a combo of Bagley and O'Neal, they'll probably take Bol, but would have a hard time justifying taking some other center.


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