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Driving home from the Bay Area yesterday, Greg and I had a lot to talk about, and to speculate about.
So, we laid out just how the next several years might look for Bruin basketball.
For the 2004-2005 season, while the team might not be quite as good as I thought they'd be going into this current season, I think they'll still be pretty good.
PG: Farmar, Bozeman, Walcott,
SG: Morrison, Afflalo, Bozeman, Rubin
SF: Thompson, Afflalo, Shipp,
PF: Ariza, Mata, (perhaps another freshman),
C: Fey, Hollins, Mata
At the point, I think the combination of Jordan Farmar and Cedric Bozeman will be very effective. Right now, I think Farmar will emerge next year as the main option at the point, with Bozeman getting considerable minutes, too. He'll provide great defense and good matchup opportunities against opponents' smaller point guards.
I went with what I thought was the highest percentage guess with a fifth freshman -- that of the power forward. If they do, though, get Hairston, I think he'd plug in immediately to the rotation at SG/SF.
I think this team has a chance to be very good. I think Fey and Hollins will be better. Not drastically better, but improved. I think Mata will push them for minutes. Hopefully Ariza will come back with 15 more pounds of muscle. I think the wings will really push Thompson -- and either he'll respond or get overtaken in playing time.
While the situation could be a bit volatile, with veterans being pushed by freshmen, I think it will be a pretty clear-cut situation. I think Howland won't hesitate to play the youngsters if the veterans don't show effort -- and there won't be much controversy.
PG: Farmar, Freshman (Combo)
SG: Afflalo, Shipp, Freshman combo
SF: Ariza, Afflalo, Shipp
PF: Mata, Ariza, Sophomore, Freshman, McKinney
CL: Fey, Hollins, Mata, Freshman
This is, IMO, the potentially down year over the course of the next several.
I would be surprised if Ariza is here; I believe he'll try to go pro after his sophomore season. You take him, as a junior, out of this equation, the team could start four sophomores -- or possibly three sophomores and a freshman -- and one senior. I think they'll have talent, if they get the types of recruits I'm anticipating, but they'll be young. I think, though, that Mata's skills will have continued to develop enough that Howland is fine with him playing the four.
PG: Farmar, Soph Combo, FR
SG: Shipp, Soph Combo,
SF: Afflalo, FR
PF: Mata, Junior, McKinney, FR PF/C
C: Soph, Mata, FR PF/C
I think from this year on, UCLA will have it rolling.
They'll start probably four juniors, who have seen a lot of playing time over the last couple of years and will be veterans. Again, if they recruit the kind of talent I think they will, the talent among the sophs and freshmen on this team should be considerable. It will be the kind of talent, IMO, that could push for starting time.
I think they'll have enough talent on the squad that they'll be able to save at least one ride for the next year.
PG: Farmar, Junior Combo, Soph
SG: Shipp, Junior Combo
SF: Afflalo, Soph, King
PF: Mata, Senior, Soph PF/C, King
C: Junior, Mata, Frosh
Hopefully Jordan Farmar will still be here.
If he is, this is a huge year. You'll have Farmar, Shipp, Afflalo and Mata all as seniors (and that's not counting if Hairston comes, instead of the other power forward that could come in with that class, which is included above).
I think, besides King, UCLA will have at least another scholarship to give to the 2007 class, and possibly more. Scholarships always open up.
I think, from this time on, UCLA is picking and choosing recruits. I think they can go literally 10-12 deep. I think they'll get players to walk on that are better than many of the scholarship players on the team right now.
Making a prediction right now, though, I'd say that Farmar, Afflalo and Co. will be remembered as the class that started the UCLA resurrection...-- Tracy Pierson
Highlights from Ben Howland's Tuesday Press Conference:
-- Ryan Hollins will start at center against Stanford. He said the amount of playing time, however, probably won't change.
-- Howland said he's "pretty certain" that Brian Morrison will not play this weekend. He said if Morrison "hadn't tweaked" the hamstring during the road trip on Washington, he would have played last weekend.
-- Howland said that the block outs on Saturday were "horrible." He said he remembered only three good block outs in 40 minutes. "It was frightening how poor it was."
-- He's watched the Arizona game five times, once with the team, and he said, "It doesn't get any better." He didn't think defending against the three was as much of the issue as Arizona's players being able to take UCLA's defenders off the dribble, creating good outside looks. -- Tracy Pierson
UCLA football just received a commitment from a wide receiver, Marcus Everett, 6-1, 190, West Hills (Calif.) Chamindade.
Since Everett plays both footballa and basketball, many have been speculating about whether he could contribute to the UCLA basketball team, since he says he intends to play basketball also.
In our estimation, Everett is a low- to mid-major basketball player. He would have a chance to give UCLA some backup minutes at point guard. He's about 6-0 to 6-1, and is very well-built, at about 190 lbs. His quickness and ball-handling are just adequate, and he's a decent passer and shooter. He would supply some strength and toughness to the backup point guard minutes.
The question, though, being on a football scholarship, is first, whether he plays basketball at all. We know he wants to play both sports, but once he gets to college and realizes how demanding football is he very likely could change his mind. And secondly, if he did play basketball, there would be the issue of how much time he would he have to dedicate to hoops, and thus limit his capability of contributing. -- Tracy Pierson 1/19
Many want UCLA to bring in another post prospect in next year's recruiting class. But it's a problem when there aren't any prospects left available that UCLA could get that also would be good enough to make an impact at this level.
So, what would you do then? Would you take a top ten national wing like Malik Hairston if he wanted to come to your school -- or take a 6-8 PF who you doubt can play at UCLA's level?
I think you take the top ten wing...-- Tracy PiersonMp> 1/17
It's time for a positive spin on football recruiting.
The loss to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Classic has had considerable residue, leaving most UCLA fans with a bad taste in their mouth – especially during the current high season of recruiting.
But with how much UCLA fans are complaining, ad infinitum, you wouldn't know that UCLA's recruiting class is currently ranked #13 in the country (TheInsiders' Recruiting Class Rankings). UCLA, as of right now, has the #2 recruiting class in the Pac-10.
Given the circumstances, it's actually been a very interesting recruiting season. On one hand there have been some negatives, but on the other hand some positives.
On the minus side:
You can easily make the case that with this recruiting class that UCLA isn't involved with as many elite recruits as they were just a few years ago.
You can make the case that UCLA, to a great degree, sells itself in recruiting. It's feasible that UCLA, the school, is in a large part responsible for that #13-ranking.
You could say that some of the headliners of the recruiting class are waivering, and the class – and its ranking – are on shaky ground.
On the plus side:
Conceding that UCLA might not be involved with as many elite recruits as it was during the classes of 1999 and 2000, the current staff has done better, so far, than the last staff did the last couple of years (In fact, the current staff, once it was hired last December, salvaged last year's recruiting class by getting commitments from the class's only impact players, Maurice Drew, Kevin Brown, Joe Cowan and Junior Lemau'u). This current class does have a few headliners, most notably defensive end Brigham Harwell, who could be among the best few players in the west and among a small handful of the best defensive ends in the country. Long Beach Poly defensive back Rodney Van, South Hills defensive back Bryan Payton, La Mirada offensive lineman Shannon Tevaga, and JC defensive end Kyle Morgan could all be considered elite recruits in any year. UCLA still has a very good shot with a few other elite prospects such as OL Allen Smith, WR Adrian Arrington and QB Rocky Hinds, and even, most recently there is a potential chance with quarterback Anthony Morelli.
Some of these committed headliners appear to be waivering, but sources indicate that, if they qualify academically, it's pretty certain they'll be Bruins. If Harwell gets a qualifying test score many close to the situation are very confident he'll stick with his commitment to UCLA. Keeping Harwell, Van and the other potential impact committed recruits will be a great accomplishment.
The staff, not having a great season to sell, has put together #13-ranked class in the country to date with those headliners, as well as tapping the JC resource that the previous staff didn't really exploit. It's difficult for UCLA to take JC recruits, but this staff did an unprecedented, thorough job on the JC front, getting in on every JC recruit UCLA had a possibility of recruiting, and the JC commitments have bolstered the class. In looking at JC rankings, Morgan is considered the #56 overall JC prospect nationally and OL Marc Villafuerte #87 by College Football News. Villafuerte, LB Dan Nelson, QB David Koral and DE Justin Hickman are all considered among the top 101 JC prospect in the nation as ranked by JC Football.
The class has commitments from some fairly unknown players, such as defensive tackle Chris Johnson, and OLs Scott Glicksberg and Nathaniel Skaggs. It's difficult to even assess their commitments, and easy to dismiss them, since they're not ranked or very well known. But there is the possibility that the coaching staff uncovered a gem among them.
The staff has tried to re-invent the roster, attempting to bring in the maximum number of new players (a total of 29) for the 2004 season that it could. The current staff wants to try to replace the mindset and attitude that was left by the former staff, and feels an influx of new blood will help precipitate it.
While not being able to get involved with some of the elite talent because of a unsuccessful season, UCLA has scratched out the #13-ranked class in the country. While you concede that UCLA does indeed sell itself to a degree, this coaching staff has to be given credit for putting together a solid class, given the circumstances. It would interesting to see how this staff could recruit if it had a 9+-win season to sell.