Hoops Recruiting 2005 Update

UCLA has made some early in-roads and has targeted many prospects in the national basketball class of 2005. Here are the position priorities and the prospects that could fill them, including <b>Theo Davis</b>, <b>Brandon Costner</b> and <b>Mario Chalmers</b>...

OVERVIEW

 

Depending on whether UCLA ultimately gives out a fifth or even a sixth scholarship to the 2004 class, the Bruins could have either three or four rides open for the class of 2005.

 

That's good news and bad news.

 

The good news is that, when you're trying to re-build a program, it helps to have a good number of scholarships available.

 

The bad news is that the 2005 class is particularly weak, both on the west coast and nationally.  It could be the weakest class in the west in the last ten years.  And even to compound the lack of talent is the fact that many of the players that have been recognized in the west as being potentially elite and of UCLA caliber could have academic questions.  Also, the class lacks depth in big men, and many of the ones that are elite are in states like Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, states that UCLA doesn't traditionally recruit well. 

 

It's particularly bad luck for the new coaching staff. You're trying to re-build a program and have scholarships to give, and for the first full recruiting year you'll have as a staff there is slim pickings prospect-wise. 

 

It also creates a bit of a dilemma for UCLA regarding 2005.  The 2006 class is strong in the west and, from what we hear, solid nationally.  It's extremely early to judge the 2007 class, which are current high school freshmen, but from the looks of it on the west coast, it should be a stellar class, if just the recruits we've recognized to date develop at an average rate. 

 

If UCLA gives out four scholarships in 2005, it could limit how many scholarships UCLA would have to give to the 2006 and 2007 classes.  It could leave UCLA with only two scholarships available for the 2006 class and only two for 2007, with one ride already filled by verbally-committed Taylor King, 6-6 FR CF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. 

 

So, if you're UCLA, what do you do with the class of 2005? Do you try to get some solid bodies in to your program quickly from the 2005 class? Or do you hold off on 2005 and provide yourself more rides to give the more talented classes of  2006 and 2007? 

 

It all very well could work itself out. If the 5/8 rule is rescinded (and there is no longer a limitation of how many scholarships can be granted in any one- or two-year period, or if players leave the program, UCLA will have enough available for the classes of 2006 and 2007.  In reading the story on Scholarship Breakdown you'll get a better sense (or perhaps an even more convoluted sense) of how many rides UCLA will have over the next several years.

 

It's pretty safe to say, though, that UCLA will probably give out three scholarships to the class of 2005, and possibly four. 

 

Its primary need will be a true post player.  Lorenzo Mata, the 6-9-ish post that is verbally committed in the 2004 class, has some great potential, but is raw. There's also a bit of a worry if he'll be able to qualify academically.  It would also serve UCLA to get a bigger center in the 6-10+ mold.  Even though Howland's offensive system is geared for the power forward to be more like a small forward offensively, Mata could still move over and do time at the four.  Even if Mata is strictly a five, UCLA still will desperately need another post in the 2005 class.  After Ryan Hollins and Mike Fey graduate, Lorenzo Mata would be the only true post player on the roster.

 

Probably the second biggest need for 2005 would be a Ben Howland-type power forward, someone who can play like a small forward on offense but bang with the big boys on defense.  Again, after Fey and Hollins, there would be no one else but Mata on the roster who can defend low-block players one-on-one. 

 

Then, UCLA would also want to get another ballhandler in its backcourt, and will be targeting combo-type guards, or even true point guards. 

 

If UCLA does indeed get a commitment from Malik Hairston to complete its 2004 class, UCLA then could very well opt to try to bring in three frontcourt players.  But if it doesn't get Hairston, a high-scoring true three would also then be something UCLA could use in the 2005 class.

So, the needs are: a center, power forward, combo guard and a three, possibly in that order, with the possibility that, if UCLA does get Hairston it won't need the three and it could opt for a third big rather than the combo guard.  But keep in mind: If UCLA can get a truly elite player at any position, it would take that player over the positional needs.  While you want to recruit to your needs, recruiting elite talent is a higher priority.

 

UCLA coaches have been on the recruiting road since November. While they've been looking for at 2004 prospects, they've also been scouting 2005 recruits.  With the new rules instituted a couple of years ago, they can officially begin recruiting 2005 recruits in January, and a 2005 recruit can begin to take official visits as of that time. So, really, with how sped up the recruiting calendar is, UCLA's coaches are currently pretty focused on the 2005 class.

 

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, but some of the prospects we know UCLA will target. And, of course, other names will be added to this list as time goes on.

 

UCLA, in trying to get two frontcourt players, could very well take two recruits from either the "Post Prospect" list or the "Power Forward-Type Prospect" list below.  All on the list are considered "bigs." They're only designated here as either post prospects or power forwards to differentiate between the two different skill types. 

 

POST PROSPECTS:

 

 

Theo Davis, 6-9, Etobicoke (Ontario, Canada) Marian Academy. Considered one of the best and most athletic low-post players in the national class of 2005, Davis is springy and long.  TheInsiders has him as the #17 prospect for 2005.  He has good grades and thus becomes a high priority for UCLA.  They'll be fighting some of the midwest powers for him, like Michigan State, Louisville and Illinois, along with North Carolina and Syracuse.

 

Eric Boateng, 6-9, Middletown (Del.) St. Andrews. A big, talented Brit, Boateng was first discovered this last summer at the Nike Camp. He's long and quick off his feet and had the elite programs drooling over him.  He reminds you a little more raw version of Jerome Moiso.  The Bruins will try hard to get involved with him. He's not too savvy about American college basketball so he could have a cosmopolitan, open mind about recruiting.  TheInsiders has him as the #12-ranked player in 2005. 

 

Amir Johnson, 6-9, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester.  He's the almost perfect fit for UCLA. He's big, athletic, talented, and local.  However, he's only almost perfect since there are questions about his academics. Some close to him say he's fine academically. Others are skeptical.  No one still really knows since any hard copy of his academic records are pretty scarce.  He is a top ten player on many national lists.  If his academics are even close, UCLA will be all over him, as will Arizona, Kansas and others. 

 

Artem Wallace, 6-8 Toledo (Wash.) High. He's ranked the #1 power forward in the west for 2005. He's an import from Russia, with a tough, Russian-type of body and some very good developing skills. If he continues to develop and gets more aggressive, he has the tools to be a top 40 national player.  Wallace likes UCLA, having taken an unofficial visit in August. If he continues to improve, UCLA will be all over him. 

 

Jon Brockman, 6-6 Snohomish (Wash.) High.  He's undersized for his position, especially since he is a true low-post and really hasn't shown so far in his development that he has three-type wing skills. Brockman, though, is a true banger – a kid who has outplayed other hyped prospects who are much taller.  In a year when there aren't many elite post players, UCLA will more than likely recruit Brockman aggressively, especially since he has very good academics. He could be among Stanford's big targets.   

 

Brett Hoerner, 6-10, Fullerton (Calif.) High. Hoerner is the guy you want to see really develop and really break out by this coming summer since it'd be a slam dunk for UCLA to get him. He's said in the past that UCLA is his favorite school and where he wants to go.  The snag is he'll have to show some development, and some physical development, for UCLA to offer him. He's extremely skinny, probably weighing 190ish, and hasn't yet had that aggressiveness switch turned on. But he has some very good tools – decent athleticism, good shot blocking skills, and fairly good post moves.  He also has good grades, so if Hoerner gets bigger and better, it would be a great thing for UCLA.

 

Jordan Wilkes, 6-10, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. The son of former UCLA great Jamaal Wilkes, Jordan is an interesting story. He's grown probably 4 inches in the last two years and he's been very awkward during that time.  As recently as the fall it still was questionable whether he'd ever develop into a D-1 player. Now, in his junior year, the coordination has caught up with the body. Wilkes has gone from possibly not even a D-1 player to a mid-major plus. He is still getting his coordination and body under control, and isn't very quick or explosive. But athletically he's come a very long ways since last summer.  He has some very good skills around the basket, able to post up on either block and shoot out to about 12 feet accurately.  He doesn't have those fast-twitch muscles you'd like to see for a UCLA post player and right now he's probably not UCLA's level. He's also still pretty weak, and not very physical. But the question is -- if he's come this far in the last few months, is this as far as he can go, or is this just the beginning of his development?  UCLA has been in contact, as have other high-majors and mid-majors. He'll definitely be interesting to watch this spring and summer. 

 

Braeden Bell, 6-8,  Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. The #2-ranked post prospect in the west, Bell has good size and very good skills.  He could have academic questions. 

 

Jeff Pendergraph, 6-9, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. A kid who has grown about two inches in the last year and filled out, Pendergraph is a good-looking developing big man.  He's athletic, long and moves very well, but is still very undeveloped skills-wise.  He's probably a Pac-10 level player, but it will take some more development this spring for him to jump into the elite level, and for UCLA to go after him.

 

POWER FORWARD TYPE PROSPECTS:

 

Brandon Costner, 6-8, West Orang (New Jersey) Seton Hall Prep.  The #21-ranked player nationally by TheInsiders.com, Costner has a great inside-outside game and the body to be able to guard post players – in other words, a great fit for Howland's system at the four.  UCLA will recruit him heavily, fighting against North Carolina, Kansas, Stanford and others. He said recently UCLA made a recent cut of his list of schools. 

 

Julian Wright, 6-7, Flossmoor (Ill.) Homewood-Flossmoor.  The #18-ranked player in the country, Wright can really score from the post or step out. He probably weighs 200 pounds and is still pretty thin – with the potential to get bigger.  The Bruins are recruiting him and will have to contend with the midwest powers to get interest from him.  He comes from T.J. Cummings' high school, so UCLA will try to use that connection.

 

Lawrence Hill, 6-8 Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. A pretty intriguing prospect, Hill is an Ed O'Bannon type power forward – lean, quick in the post and with a good outside jumper.  He has the body of a small forward, but plays like a power forward. He has shown some promise in getting physically bigger and filling out, and if he continues to do so, he could be a good fit for a Howland offense.  He's also a good fit since he's an excellent student. UCLA has shown some early interest in Hill, while Stanford will be tough to unseat as his leader. 

 

Fendi Onubon, 6-7, Alief (Tex.) Taylor.  Onubun is a bit of a tweener – having the size of a small forward with the game more like that of a power forward at this point.  He does have a pretty bulky body, though, and can defend in the post.  He could be among the top 40 in the nation, as many analysts list him.  He likes Arizona, UCLA, Texas, North Carolina and others. 


Gerald Green, 6-8, Houston (Tex.) Gulf Shores Academy. Green is thought of as a wing by many because of his skills but he fits Howland's type of power forward -- big, long, quick and skilled. UCLA has been aware of Green for a while, with a connection to him, and recently has been showing some interest.

 

Others to Watch:

 

Davon Jefferson, 6-7, Lynwood (Calif.) High. Possibly could be talented enough, but could have academic issues.

 

Jamal Boykin, 6-7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax.  In our opinion, as of now, he's a mid-major, but he's a good kid with good grades and UCLA will watch him.

 

Darrin Mahoney, 6-7, Heber City (Utah) Wasatch.  Skilled big man who'd be good in Howland's system, but not athletic enough to play at this level yet. Someone to keep an eye on, especially if he grows or gets more athletic.

 

COMBO/POINT GUARD

 

Mario Chalmers, 6-2, Anchorage (Alaska) Bartlett. Currently ranked the #1 point guard in the west in the class of 2005, he's also a top 25 player nationally. Chalmer is more of a combo guard, with the scoring mentality of a two guard dominating his game most of the time. He's athletic, quick, and has point guard instincts.  UCLA is among his favorites, and they'll do battle with some big names for him.

 

Anthony Goods, 6-2, Corona (Calif.) Centennial.  Always having the potential to be a high-major recruit, Goods is realizing that potential more in his senior season. He's got a good body, with some explosiveness and good quickness for his size, and a very nice outside jumper. So he has the body and scoring ability of a two, but then combines that with the great feel and court sense of a point guard.  He could very well give Chalmers some competition for the #1 point guard spot in the west in the class of 2005 this summer.  He's also an excellent student.  UCLA is trying to get involved, while Stanford, Oregon and probably many more will be involved with him.

 

Darren Collison, 6-0, Etiwanda (Calif.) High.  A true point guard, Collison has a good point guard's instinct with a very nice outside shot to make him one of the best point guards in the west.  He's still really skinny, but has very good quickness and ball-handling ability.  UCLA just started to show interest this winter during his junior year, and the Bruins have a connection with the Collison family.  It will be interesting to see if he shows he's a high-major this spring.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-4, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Techical.  A big, lean guard who has very good point guard instincts, Roberts is probably a top 50 national level player for 2005.  UCLA assistant Ernie Zeigler has the Detroit connections on this one. 

 

Kashif Watson, 6-1, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. The younger brother of Tennesee's C.J. Watson, Kashif could be more talented than his older brother. He's longer, more athletic and has a better body at this stage.  Kashif has great natural ability, but will have to work on honing his skills more, particularly his outside shooting.  He has a chance to emerge as an elite player in the west. Coach Kerry Keating was instrumental in bringing C.J. to Tennessee when Keating was an assistant there, so he has good connections with the Watson family.

Josh Thornton, 6-1, 170, Camden-Wyoming (Del.) Caesar Rodney. One of the best shooters on the east coast for the class of 2005, Thornton is a scoring point. He set a Delaware state record in the high school playoffs this year by making 16 threes in three games. He's considered a potentially top 50 national prospect. UCLA has been scouting him, as well as Kansas, Tennessee, and Wake Forest.

Lamar Falley, 6-3, Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango. Another Vegas player who has a chance to be an elite high major, Falley has good size, athleticism, and pretty advanced skills to both score and distribute.  UCLA coaches saw him in Vegas during the recent evaluation period. He's definitely one to watch. 

 

Others to Watch:

 

Andre McGee, 5-10 Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. He was one of the quickest players in the west in recent years, but his step has slowed down a bit this season, having gotten bulkier physically. McGee is very talented, but he's stuck a bit in between being a flashy scoring guard and being just 5-10.  He has good grades, though, and he could still satisfy UCLA's needs for a combo.

 

Jonathan Gibson, 5-11 West Covina (Calif.) High. A true point, and one of the quickest players in the west. He could develop into a player good enough that UCLA has to seriously consider him.

 

Ryan Thornton, 6-0 Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian. Another player who is more of a true point, but he has shown flashes of such great talent, he might also develop enough that he's too good not to consider if you're UCLA.

 

Harvey Perry, 6-5, Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. Great size and good lead guard skills. He's truly in the 2004 class but will go to prep school and be held back to 2005. If academics are okay, could be one UCLA could get involved with.

 

 

SMALL FORWARD/WING

 

Martell Webster, 6-6 SF, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach.  A top five player and, on many lists, the #1 player in the class of 2005 nationally (but take into consideration the class is down).  Webster is long and weighs probably 215 ish but still looks relatively lean. In other words, he could physically develop into a beast of a small forward. Combine that with the best skills and scoring instincts on the west coast and you have the potential for greatness. He has said Arizona is his leader, but UCLA is making some in-roads.  UCLA will only have a chance with him if they don't get Malik Hairston (as really is probably the case with most on this list of small forwards). He has to improve his grades, but UCLA will recruit him very hard. 

 

Tyler Smith, 6-6, Pulaski (Tenn.) Giles Country. A top 10 national player in the 2005 class, Smith is a big, physical three with good skills.  He's so big he could actually develop into the scoring-type of four that Howland likes in his offense.  No matter his position, he's an impact player.  Keating, again, is using his established Tennessee connections to get UCLA in on Smith and they're doing well. In fact, they could be among his few leaders at this point and could take a visit sometime during this season or spring.

 

Joey Shaw, 6-6, Chandler (Ariz.) High.  A really up-and-comer to watch. He showed nice signs last summer, but has really improved since and looked great at the Arizona Preps Showcase last fall.  He's long, very skinny, but very talented and athletic.  And, believe it or not, he said he wants to leave the state of Arizona and UCLA was his favorite school as a kid. 

 

Micah Downs, 6-7, Bothell (Wash.) High. Definitely a player to keep an eye on, Downs is somewhat unknown but has all the tools. A kind of poor man's Mike Dunleavy, Downs is an explosive athlete, with great quickness for his size and good skills.  He's had somewhat of a breakout junior year, with plenty of D-1 schools going to Bothell to scout him, UCLA among them.

 

Joe Darger, 6-6, Riverton (Utah) High. Probably has the best shot in the west, Darger is a great talent that lacks the elite athleticism.  But he's definitely someone UCLA will watch.

 

Marcus Williams, 6-5 Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. A very promising prospect with great size, body and skills. He'll probably be a top 75 national level prospect and UCLA will be watching him.

 

Kyle Spain, 6-5, Newark (Calif.) Memorial.  A bulky body that could get too big and immobile for his position, Spain has good skills, but also could lack explosiveness off the floor. He is still someone that could emerge as an elite prospect. 

 

Terrence Williams, 6-4 Seattle (Wash.) Rainier. Another from the state of Washington, Williams is a stud of an athlete with developing skills. 

 

Marcus Johnson, 6-5, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. A truly phenomenal athlete with a one of those pliant, elastic bodies, Johnson is intriguing. His skills have developed some, but he's still sporadic.  If he continues to develop and mature, and he has the academics, UCLA could get on him seriously and they'd have a very good chance with him.
 
Others to Watch:

 

Brian Harvey, 6-5, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. A great talent with poor academics.

 

Larry Gurganious, 6-4, Berkeley (Calif.) St. Mary's. A great athlete with developing skills.

 

Tyler Newbold, 6-4 Payson (Utah) High. Skilled and mature, but maybe not UCLA's caliber.

 

Marcus Carter, Jr., 6-4 Claremont (Calif.) High. An intriguing prospect who might also fulfill the combo guard role depending on how he develops.


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