UCLA has four verbal commitments from the class of 2004, with no more scholarships officially available. However, UCLA's Head Coach Ben Howland has indicated that there would be one more scholarship available if they could get a commitment from a fifth player.
UCLA's class as it stands now is quality, with the Bruins filling some considerable needs. With four top 100 players, and two (Farmar and Afflalo) who are consensus top 40 national types, UCLA's class, as it is, will be among the top 15 in the country, and possibly better. If it adds a high-impact fifth player, it could be among the top five classes in the country conservatively.
As of right now, there are a few specific possibilites for that fifth scholarship. A couple of months ago, it looked like it would definitely go to a frontcourt player, and most likely the type of face-up four that Howland prefers. But UCLA's recruitment of elite wing Malik Hairston has come alive again, changing the landscape a bit.
It's a longshot that anything will happen with that scholarship until much later this season, if not until spring, if it happens at all. But it does seem that UCLA is very intent on bringing in a fifth player next fall. The small list of specific prospects that could fill this ride are listed below. If it's filled, it very like could be from a prospect not on this list but one that could still emerge this season, or by possibly a foreign player.
If UCLA doesn't use the fifth scholarship for this class, they'll then have four available to give to the class of 2005. There is a list of 2005 prospects up on the front page of the site under BRO Showcase. Also, remember to click on any of the hot links attached to a player's name to go to his database profile and all the stories done on him in the network's archive.
Jordan Farmar, 6-2 PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Thank the Lord. UCLA's committed point guard had a stellar spring and summer and cemented his place as one of the top two or three point guards in the country and a likely top 25 national recruit. In the summer he showed that he's everything the UCLA programs needs – a real point guard with great leadership skills, intelligence, maturity and good academics. It's a completely different world to ponder if Farmar had actually committed to Florida back in spring like he was close to doing (watch the video interview). Watching him play this well the entire summer would have been torture for the UCLA coaches, and would have made it desperation time to get a point guard. With his senior season, he has continued to show development, and is playing very well, to the point that many are calling him the best pure point guard in the country. He's has a very good chance of being named to the McDonald's All-American team. He could be the biggest get for the UCLA basketball program since Baron Davis.
Arron Afflalo, 6-5 SG/SF, Compton (Calif.) Centennial. He had a solid summer, playing well at ABCD, leading the camp in scoring, and then struggling somewhat in the Big Time playing on a team that didn't play well together. His shot was inconsistent for most of the spring and summer, but it's not a big worry since he's shown to be a better shooter in the past and has a very nice stroke. With good academics, Afflalo is a huge piece of the puzzle to getting UCLA back to where it needs to be over the next several years.Not only is he talented, but Afflalo is a warrior, much like Farmar, and he'll bring the needed toughness. He has come out in his senior season and shown more of that warrior-like attitude, and his play has shown improvement since summer. He also has a shot at the McDonald's All-American team.
Lorenzo Mata, 6-8 PF/C, South Gate (Calif.) High. He's a great fit as a player -- the kind of true low-post guy that UCLA needs. He's big, athletic and plays hard. And he's only played organized basketball for a few years and is just at the beginning of his basketball learning curve. Physically, he's gotten bigger and has the body that could continue to fill out. From a talent standpoint, Mata right now is one of the best shot blockers in the west, is quick off his feet and rebounds well. Offensively he has great potential, going from having nearly nothing offensively to showing some great natural scoring moves out to 12 feet or so this summer, and that range has continued to move out by this winter. He went from being practically unknown to a top 70 national recruit, at least. And you have to give the kid a great deal of credit, too, for making a commitment to UCLA a reality for himself. Not coming from a great academic background, or a school that's known for its academics, Mata didn't do much academically for his first two and a half years in high school. But when he got motivated halfway through his junior year -- and was told that going to his dream school, UCLA, was a possibility, Mata applied himself. He replaced a number of core classes in his spring semester, and did so again last summer. His GPA improved considerably and made it possible for UCLA to accept his verbal commitment. Among prospects that don't have stellar academics, he's the type of student-athlete UCLA will invest in -- a kid who has shown that he's motivated to put in the work academically and improve. He'll still need a passing SAT score to qualify, but he's studying with a tutor and is expected to achieve one. In his first attempt without a tutor, he came close to a qualifying NCAA SAT score, so it's expected, with the tutor, he wil achieve one. He sat out the first semester at South Gate as a senior due to his academics from last year. Since returning, he's playing extremely well, showing more skill development, averaging 23.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and six blocked shots through his first three games. If we had to project, we think that Mata, with his background story, incredible upside, and penchant for playing hard combined with his sometimes awkward appearance, will quickly become a Pauley Pavilion favorite.
Josh Shipp, 6-6 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. He committed to UCLA a few days after his official visit September 26th. He had a great Nike Camp in July, where he hit a majority of his jumpers and threw down impressive dunks and impressed the national scouts. He's not overly quick, and needs to pick up his intensity at times, but he's developed into a good shooter and a very smart player. Shipp made the top 100 national rankings by TheInsiders.com and has been ranked as high as a top 40 national player on some lists. He's a solid player and a good kid (with good academics). He chose UCLA over Oregon, Washington and Boston College. With Afflalo and Shipp, UCLA fills out its needs for wings in this class. Since summer he looks to have grown another inch, and has been playing really well so far in is senior season, he's averaging 27 points and 6 rebounds a game.
Malik Hairston, 6-4 SG, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance. A top ten national player that UCLA had been recruiting and thought, then, that they were finished with when they got the commitment from Josh Shipp. But Hairston then said he was still interested in UCLA, and would wait until spring to decide. So, UCLA continues to recruit him. UCLA needs a frontcourt player, but when you have an elite, potentially big-impact player like Hairston available and interested you'd have to take him. Hairston will pick from UCLA, Kansas, Michigan and Ohio State. Much has been rumored and speculated on which school he prefers, and it probably changes quite frequently. The trustworthy inside word is tht UCLA has a very good shot with Hairston. If they did get him, it would make UCLA's class potentially top five in the nation.
Kevin Langford, 6-8 PF, Fort Worth (Tex.) North Crowley. The younger brother of current Kansas Jayhawk Keith Langford, he visited UCLA officially in November. He's the type of four that Howland likes -- with face-up scoring skills. He's pretty thin and needs to get bigger, but has the body that coudl do it. He had visited Stanford and Virginia, but those schools are considerations now. He could visit Cal by the spring. He was named the USA Today player of the week in December. UCLA has yet to offer him and is still in a wait-and-see mode with him.
Boris Meno, 6-8 PF, Northfield (Mass.) North Herman. Another wait-and-see prospect, Meno is originally from France has good skills. Having previously been considered a mid-major, he's gotten the attention of some high majors this season who are looking for a skilled big man, including UCLA. Meno could be the most promising among the wait-and-see prospects, and UCLA could have him come in for an official visit.
Robert Rothbart, 7-0 PF, Sacramento (Calif.) Natomas. Very skinny but skilled, Rothbart is intriguing. Being 7-0 and able to shoot out beyond three is enough to get him interest from Arizona, Cal, Indiana and Missouri. He's visited all four schools officially. He isn't very aggressive, though, and stil has a long ways to go. He's on UCLA's wait-and-see list.
6-9 PF, Birmingham (Ala.) Parker. UCLA flirted with Sharpe last summer. He has
sometimes included UCLA on his list of schools he's interested in, and UCLA
would be interested in him as a potential spring signee. Right now he's another