It's very difficult to project just how many scholarships UCLA basketball could have to give over the next couple of years, for several reasons.
The biggest factor will be whether the NCAA "5/8" rule will be abolished. The 5/8 stipulates that a college basketball program can only enroll five scholarships players in any one year, and a maximum of 8 in a two-year period. It was intended to keep college programs from quick turnover among its scholarship players. College coaches have consistently expressed their displeasure with the rule, often times citing how it has restricted them from using all of the 13 scholarships available to a college basketball program. The rule could very possibly be abolished when the NCAA Management Council and its Board of Directors votes on it in April. If the NCAA does rescind it, college programs will have no limits on the number of players they can enroll in any year. If 5/8 is lifted, it would probably go into effect this August.
For UCLA, that would mean it could sign as many players as it wanted this spring, since they'd be enrolled by September, after the 5/8 is rescinded. If it were to happen, UCLA could possibly sign two more players, 6-5 wing Malik Hairston and 7-0 power forward Robert Rothbart, which would bring the total for the 2004 class to six. To do so, UCLA would have to free up two scholarships next year.
The second biggest factor will be how many additional scholarships become available over the next couple of years. It's believed that Matt McKinney, the volleyball/basketball player, could very well be taken off basketball scholarship. Freshman Trevor Ariza also has intentions of going pro early. In his case, as in many cases, it's now what is logical or even prudent when deciding whether he should go pro early, but what the player and his family believe is more beneficial for him. You would think that Ariza is guaranteed of returning for his sophomore season, but if he has improved by the end of that season and his camp feels he's ready, he could very well go after next season, or after his junior season, despite, again, what might be prudent. At this point you'd have to think that it's unlikely that Ariza would stay his entire four years.
So, it's very possible that UCLA could have those two scholarships additionally to give over the next two years.
Here's the way it could break down, by classes after next year, if UCLA, in fact gives out six scholarships in 2004.
If Ariza and McKinney are still on scholarship by the 2005/2006 season, and UCLA gives out six scholarships to the 2004 class, UCLA will have three scholarships to give to the class of 2005, the current high school junior class.
The position breakdown:
Farmar Afflalo Hairston Ariza (SF) Hollins
Shipp McKinney Fey
Rothbart Mata (PF)
Freshman Freshman Freshman
With Fey and Hollins both being seniors, Ariza's better position probably being small forward, seemingly no big contribution from McKinney, Rothbart being a project and Mata having possible academic issues, the priority is the frontcourt. Also, the next year, Mata would be your only true low-post player on the roster. With such a lack of depth at the post positions, UCLA could very well opt for three bigs in this class, especially with the good talent at guard and wing on the roster. But UCLA, more than likely, will also try to get a combo guard in this class, or a point guard to come in behind Farmar.
Other scenarios: If the 5/8 rule is not abolished and UCLA gives out five scholarships this year, it would then still have three to give to the class of 2005. If, though, UCLA gives out five rides to the 2004 class and the 5/8 rule is abolished, it wouldn't limit how many scholarships UCLA could give to the 2005 class, so it could give out up to four rides for that class. This would be beneficial since it would allow UCLA to use its 13th scholarship in 2005/2006 rather than the 5/8 rule forcing it to go unused.
With the 2005 class not being greatly talented, if UCLA did have four rides available, or had one or two more scholarships open up, UCLA might not necessarily opt to give out more scholarships than three in that class, unless, of course, elite players wanted to come (Or unless UCLA doesn't give out any more rides to the class of 2004 and brings in the present four prospects, which, in this case they'd want a wing for 2005 since they lost Hairston). UCLA could hold on to any more available scholarships for the more talented 2006 and 2007 classes, especially since there might not be as many scholarships naturally available for those classes.
Ultimate Conclusion for 2005 Class: Regardless of how the scenarios play out, UCLA will probably give out three rides to the 2005 class, prioritizing at least two bigs and probably one combo guard or point guard.
SR: Ariza, McKinney
JR: Farmar, Afflalo, Shipp, Mata, Hairston, Rothbart
SO (2005): Guard, Power Forward, Center
FR (2006): Recruit #1, Recruit #2
If Ariza and McKinney are still on scholarship by their senior years, no one else has left the program, and UCLA brings in three recruits with the class of 2005, it will then have two scholarships available to give to the class of 2006.
Ideally, UCLA would want more to give to this class. It's a fairly talented class, in the west and nationally. At least one more ride opening up to be given to this class would be good.
Farmar Afflalo Hairston Ariza (SF) Mata (PF)
Sophomore Sophomore Sophomore Sophomore
Freshman Freshman (SG) Freshman (C)
The depth in the frontcourt has been maintained, but you still need help there with a power forward/center. If you have an impact freshman post player, this is the year you could finally have some good depth and talent on your front line, with Mata and Rothbart as juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. This is also the year you have to start shopping for a big-time point guard to come in and take over after Farmar, especially if Farmar happens to leave early. You need a wing since your wings are either a senior (Ariza, if he's still here) or juniors (Afflalo, Shipp and Hairston, or not Hairston).
Now, here's another scenario for this season. If the 5/8 rule isn't rescinded, and no one leaves early, and UCLA brings in a total of five with the 2004 class and three with the 2005 class, it would then have three naturally available to give to 2006.
Ultimate Conclusion for 2006 Class: It's a bit too far in the future to be able to work out accurately how many scholarships UCLA will have to give to the 2006 class and what will be the positions of priority. It's pretty safe, though, to assume that UCLA will almost certainly want a post player in the 2006 class and a wing. It's also pretty safe to assume they'll have at least a third ride open and ideally would want an elite point guard.
SR: Farmar, Afflalo, Shipp, Mata, Hairston, Rothbart
JR (2005): Guard, Power Forward, Center
SO (2006): Center, Wing, Point Guard
FR: Taylor King
Now, it's almost near impossible to project how many scholarships will be available and what positions will be a priority for the 2007/2008 season. If, though, it plays out as it's diagrammed above, UCLA would only have one scholarship to give, and it's already spoken for in the verbal commitment of Taylor King. It's probable that other scholarships will open up. And even though it's very early, the high school class of 2007 projects to be very talented, so you'd hope that UCLA does in fact have more rides available for the class.
Farmar Affalo Hairston Rothbart Mata (PF)
Junior (CG?) Junior Junior
Sophomore Sophomore Sophomore (C)
So, speculating that more scholarships will open up for 2007, you'd have to think the log jam at the wings might force a ride to open up there. If Farmar went pro early, and UCLA did in fact have a junior and a sophomore point guard on the roster, the scholarship would be well served given to a post player. That's if Taylor King develops into a wing. If he develops into a power forward, which he could, UCLA would need a wing. It's almost pretty easy to project, though, that UCLA will have another scholarship to give to a post player. Almost every year UCLA will need post players who can play at this level and it would be very unusual for UCLA to be so stocked with young post talent that it doesn't need to take one.
Based on some facts, some fact-based projections and then some gut feeling you can probably expect UCLA to give out three scholarships to each of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 classes.
What does happen with the class of 2004, though, will very much dictate how
many scholarships UCLA will have and what positions UCLA will prioritize for