There's a bit of a new landscape for UCLA basketball recruiting, different than how it was just a week ago.
The departure of Spencer Gloger from the program alters the situation a bit, giving UCLA four open scholarships for the next two years, and, obviously, opening up one immediately. With that one now open, it gives UCLA the option of bringing in Mike Fey, 6-11 C, as soon as he qualifies. Fey, who came up short on his SAT to qualify by this fall, has been studying with a tutor and plans to take the SAT on October October 13th. Theoretically, if Fey passed, and then received his score by late October, he could enroll at UCLA for winter quarter.
It gives UCLA some very unusual flexibility in being able to manipulate its recruiting class size, which is especially important in the era of the 5/8 rule. It's all very complicated and too involving to explain, but put it this way: it could enable UCLA to give out only three rides in next year's class and the potential to give five rides to the talent-laden high school junior class.
But, for now, UCLA currently has four scholarships to give for the next two years.
Currently UCLA has a verbal commitment from one of the most talented players in the country, Evan Burns, 6-6 SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Burns will take the SAT for the first time in October. Whether he passes the test will mostly determine whether Burns will qualify academically.
Burns, also, since committing to UCLA, has been doing some recruiting for the Bruins. There have been reports that Burns and UCLA's other primary target, Hassan Adams, 6-4 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, had some animosity between them, being from rival schools. To clarify, the players themselves never really had any animosity (except maybe on the court during a game), but some sources in the Adams camp said that Adams very likely wouldn't go to the same school as Burns. Burns has recently called Adams and the two have talked about going to the same school, and Adams reportedly isn't as adverse to it as he once was.
Adams has already officially visited Kansas earlier in the month, but his trip schedule gets a little foggy after that. He was scheduled to officially visit Oregon last weekend, but we haven't heard whether he did indeed take the trip. A few weeks ago, Adams had a visit scheduled for Boston College for Oct. 28, and a tentative plan to visit Tennessee Oct. 6, but those plans might have been altered. It's definite that Adams will officially visit Arizona for Midnight Madness Oct. 13th, and will officially visit UCLA the weekend after that, October 20th. Cal has also done well recruiting Hassan and could get an official visit.
The word is that Arizona might have a slight lead, but UCLA is making up ground. It's highly doubtful that Adams will make a decision before his official visit to Arizona Oct. 13th. If Adams visits Arizona and doesn't commit, and actually takes his visit to UCLA, the Bruins would have a good chance of getting the athletic shooting guard.
Harry Good, 6-9 PF, Fresno City College. Good went to Northwestern for a year, but then enrolled at Fresno City. Reportedly, he's interested in UCLA and UCLA is also interested in him. He apparently has good grades and is a strong, enforcer type.
Matt Haryasz, 6-9 C, Page (Ariz.) High. Stanford has a good-sized lead for the lean but talented froncourt player, with Arizona State trailing the Cardinal. UCLA is trying to get involved, and is planned to have an in-home with Haryasz tomorrow (Wednesday).
Erazem Lorbek, 6-9 PF, Slovenia. Lorbek will take the SAT for the first in early November. It's critical that he does well since the SAT is only administered twice in Europe during the year. UCLA is still recruiting Lorbek, keeping hopes alive that he'll qualify and want to become a Bruin. If he does qualify, UCLA and North Carolina will be his two top choices, with UCLA, at this point, probably his leader. With the time it takes to process the paperwork and school information of European players, Lorbek would only be able to commit in spring, if he qualifies.
Matt McKinney, 6-8 CF, Santa Ynez (Calif.) High. McKinney will take an official visit to UCLA – a volleyball visit. If he came to UCLA, he could walk on to the program and potentially earn a basketball scholarship down the road.
And of course, we always fail to mention the commitment UCLA already has in its frontcourt with this class: 6-7 football player Marcedes Lewis, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Lewis would be among the best in the west if he played basketball year-round. He's looked completely dominating so far in the first two football games for Poly this year; he's gotten bigger, stronger and faster, and could keep blossoming physically. If he does play basketball, which he intends, he could definitely provide UCLA some frontcourt help starting every January.
The UCLA coaches are spending most of their time this contact period scouting and recruiting high school juniors. UCLA will probably have at least three scholarships available for this class, which has some good talent, and possibly more if any current players transfer or go pro early.
Since it's uncertain if UCLA is going to get Hassan Adams, it naturally follows that UCLA would be targeting shooting guards in the high school junior class. The coaching staff is also targeting point guards, since there's a possibility that Cedric Bozeman could go pro early, leaving the team without a true point guard.
UCLA coaches have spent some time up north, at Oakland High School, watching Ayinde Ubaka, 6-1 PG, work out with his team. Ubaka had the most potential of any junior point guard on the west coast last summer, and the word is that he's grown a bit and improved since July. Head Coach Steve Lavin visited Oakland High, and was reportedly very impressed with the exhibition that Ubaka put on. Lavin, in fact, made it clear to Ubaka's AAU coach that UCLA plans to offer Ubaka a scholarship. Ubaka's childhood favorite school is UCLA, and UCLA would be tough to beat if they offered him early. Ubaka will have to improve his work in the classroom some, but his parents have laid down a rule – if he doesn't maintain a 3.0 GPA he won't play basketball. Cal could also be a player in Ubaka's recruitment. UCLA coaches will be up in Oakland again this week to watch Ubaka, and also to stop in to Oakland Tech High to watch one of the top ten players in his class in the country, 6-7 PF Leon Powe. Powe has UCLA on his list, with Cal probably the leader, along with Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and others.
High on UCLA's list of juniors is 6-2 combo guard Marcus Williams, Los Angeles Crenshaw. UCLA coaches have been to Crenshaw during this contact period to watch Williams, who also played well in the recent Full Cout Press Fall tournament. Williams said recently that UCLA is his favorite school, with Arizona and USC behind the Bruins. Williams said he could possibly commit before the end of next summer.
Omar Wilkes, 6-2 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, was seen at the UCLA/Ohio State football game, rooting for the Bruins, waving a white towel and looking like Ed Kezirian Jr. Wilkes was particularly excited when his fellow Loyola Cub, Matt Ware, intercepted a pass in the first half. Wilkes was accompanied by his 6-6 "little" brother, who is only in the 8th grade and the spitting image of their father, Jamal. Wilkes , of course, is a long-time UCLA fan. The family is considering Stanford for Omar, too, and it might matter whether UCLA gets Hassan Adams. Evan Burns, who played on the same AAU team with Omar occasionally over the last couple of years, has been calling and recruiting him.
If UCLA got two of the three among Ubaka, Williams and Wilkes, they'd be ecstatic, and have a potentially top 50 nationally-ranked backcourt.
Also getting some love from UCLA coaches during the contact period is one of the most talented juniors on the west coast, 6-5 SG/SF Wendell White, Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union. White is a man-child, looking like a college guy playing amongst high schoolers in the recent Full Court Press Showcase. He potentially could be the highest nationally ranked local player in his class next year. UCLA coaches are stopping by Redondo Union today to watch White. White's favorite school growing up was UCLA, and, if you don't remember, Redondo Union is the alma mater of current freshman, Dijon Thompson. White will have to do some work to qualify academically.
UCLA is also doing very well with another point guard, Khalif Ford, 5-11, Diamond Bar (Calif.) High. Ford has UCLA on his short list and UCLA coaches plan on watching him work out at his high school during the contact period.
Among frontcourt players, UCLA is doing very well with Sean Phaler, 6-9 PF, Villa Park (Calif.) High. Phaler is a Keith Van Horn-type – long, lanky, with a great stroke and ability to score. Phaler also attended the UCLA/Ohio State game. UCLA is his early leader, while Stanford will probably be the main competition for him. UCLA will go see David Padgett, 6-10 C, Reno (Nev.) High, in the next week or so. Padgett is probably the best center on the west coast, and it will be a battle with Stanford and Arizona for him. Ekene Ibekwe, 6-9 PF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Carson, is also one of the best in the west. UCLA coaches plan on visiting his school this week also. Another big man UCLA will go out to watch this week is Mohammed Abukar, 6-9 C, San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo. Abukar is currently ranked the #2 center in the west by Prep West Hoops. He's very thin, needs to put on some weight, but he has some very nice skills for his age, and a good feel in the post. UCLA could take a trip out to Minnesota during the current contact period to watch Chris Humphries, 6-7 PF, Minnetonka (Minn.) Hoskins. Many coaching staffs, incuding UCLA, have been somewhat limited in their air travel in the last couple of weeks, but UCLA coaches still could make the trip to Minnesota since Humphries continues to show interest in UCLA.
There are, of course, other players in the current high school junior class that UCLA is scouting, but these are the main early targets…