2006 & 2007 Prospects to Watch

We're pretty familiar with the hoops targets in the 2004 and 2005 classes. But with the spring and summer evaluation periods just around the corner, and with UCLA actively scouting the younger kids, it's time to get familiar with the potential prospects in 2006 and 2007...

UCLA will probably be limited to giving out three scholarships for the 2005 class.

The amount of scholarships available for 2006 and 2007 is hard to figure at this point, since quite a bit can happen between now and when UCLA will give them out.

But here's a good guess...

UCLA will almost certainly give out five scholarships to the 2004 class. With the 5/8 rule almost certainly remaining in force, that would limit UCLA's scholarships for 2005 to three.

If 2005 is then limited to three, UCLA would then have three to give the 2006 class. That's if everyone who currently has a scholarship or is earmarked for one (including the probable five in the 2004 class) is still at UCLA in the fall of 2006. More than likely, that won't be the case. You can probably expect UCLA to have at least one scholarship become available by then due to someone attempting to go pro early or transferring.

So, at the very least UCLA will have three to give the class of 2006 and very likely more.

UCLA will almost certainly be targeting bigs in the class of 2005. If they get at least two, then their needs for 2006 will probably be a wing, a point guard and a big. Depending on whether they bring in a point/combo in 2005, they could then opt for a second big in 2006. Or, probably at that point, being fairly well stocked at each position, they could have the luxury of taking the best player available, regardless of position.

The amount of scholarships that will be available for 2007 is almost impossible to predict. If everyone stays on scholarship that is slated to be on scholarship, UCLA will only have two to give to the class of 2006. But again, scholarships are bound to open up and you'd have to believe that UCLA will have at least three to give to the 2007 class also.

It's also very early to predict who will definitely be UCLA targets in the 2006 and 2007. Many of the following prospects will be targets, and some won't, depending on their development. Still, of course, since it's very early, there will be many names that aren't on this list that will be targets.

But with the spring and summer basketball recruiting events beginning within a couple of weeks, it's good to get a grasp of some of the early potential UCLA targets in the 2006 and 2007 classes.

2006

It's too bad, for UCLA, that the 2006 class isn't swapped with the 2005 class, at least on the west coast. First, the 2005 class is generally not a greatly talented class, nationally or in the west, and it's a recruiting class that UCLA really needs to stock up on with talent, particularly bigs, which it particularly lacks, while it doesn't necessarily need a point guard. It's coincidentally the exact make-up of the 2006 class – rich in bigs but, as of yet, lacking in point guards. The 2006 class in the west, as of now, though, has some pretty good depth of talent this early, and if a few elite point guards emerge in the class during the next couple of years it will be an overall solid class.

Point Guards

If UCLA brings in a point/combo guard in 2005, bringing in one for 2006 might not be a priority. If they don't bring in a guard in 2005, however, it could very well be a big priority for 2006, needing a point guard to follow two years behind Jordan Farmar. The point guard position, regrettably, at this point in the development of the 2006 class, is the class's weakest position, at least in the west.

Darryl Augustine, 5-11, New Orleans (Louis.) Brother Martin, is roundly considered the #1 point guard in the 2006 class nationally, and will have all the big-time programs pursuing him.

DeMond Carter, 5-10, Reserve (Louis.) Christian, could be the second best nationally, making the top two point guards in the class of 2006 from Louisiana, which will make it hard for UCLA to get involved with either.

Marcus Lawrence, 5-10, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, looks like he could be among the best in the west in 2006, but we still need to see him more.

Joseph Johnson, 5-9, Gardena (Calif.) Serra, could be the best in Southern California, but looks to be too small (and it doesn't look like he's growing, already relatively filled out) and not good yet enough, at least at this time, to be someone UCLA would pursue.

Andre Borrows, 6-0, Perris (Calif.) High, has some potential, but would have to develop more than what you would conventionally project. He has decent size and quickness, but his game as a point guard would need to be taken to another level and refined considerably. He's been to a few UCLA games.

Shooting Guards

UCLA will probably be looking for at least one wing, since the ones on the roster in two years (the 2004 class) will be juniors.

Marques Johnson, 6-5, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snyder, has been considered among the best nationally in the 2006 class. He's a talented player who could give you time at the one or the two, with a great feel and passing ability. He already lists UCLA as one of his early favorites.

Ramar Smith, 6-3, Detroit (Mich.) King, is considered generally as the early #1 shooting guard in the class. If UCLA gets Malik Hairston, they could have some good connections to Smith, who plays for the same AAU team as Hairston.

Chase Budinger, 6-5, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High, as of right now, is probably the best shooting guard in the class of 2006 in the west, combining refined skills, athleticism and a good court sense. He's attended UCLA games this season and has UCLA listed among his early favorites. He's a potential top 50 national player.

Tre'Von Willis, 6-3, Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union, is a talented, high-scoring athlete who had a breakout sophomore year this past season. He has a great feel for the game and might be able to give you some time at the point guard position. He could end up among the top 50ish in the class.

Josh Guillory, 6-5, Lynwood (Calif.) High, could have the most upside of just about anyone in this class in the west. He's very athletic, has good skills and a great natural play-making sense. He's just still a bit immature, and could have some challenges academically.

Derrick Jasper, 6-4, Paso Robles (Calif.) High, is a well-built, skilled scorer with a nice outside shot. He's an Arron Afflalo type – not a really springy athlete but with a very solid all-around game. A potential top 50-75 national guy.

Christian Polk, 6-3, Phoenix (Ariz.) Deer Valley is among the best in the west. He has good skills at this point and is a good, team-oriented player with decent athleticism. He's probably a top 75 type.

Seth Tarver, 6-4, Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, is the younger brother of former Bruin, Shon Tarver. Seth has a good body and athleticism with developing skills, but a questionable shot at this point. Will have to develop more to be a UCLA target.

Lathen Wallace, 6-2, Portland (Ore.) Jefferson, is a very springy athlete, with good quickness and a nice outside shot. Physically he looks like he's filled out already for his size, which could limit him. But could be among the few best in Oregon for 2006.

Tyree Thompson, 6-2, Compton (Calif.) Centennial, had a great sophomore year playing alongside Arron Affalo. Thompson has a very accurate outside jumper, but is limited athletically, while his body is pretty thick and doesn't look to have much upside. But someone to watch.

Small Forwards

Khelcey Barrs, 6-5, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, could be the propect in the 2006 class in the west with the best chance of being an elite player. He's a stud physically, a very good athlete, with skills that continue to improve, and he plays with a warrior mentality. It's very early, but there has been some question about whether academics could be a problem. UCLA has recognized Barrs as a potentially big target early, and hopefully some early influence can get Barrs on the right academic track. A potential top 40 national player.

Blake Wallace, 6-7, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, is definitely a prospect to watch, with good size and a body that could hold more weight, and good athleticism, also with good skills and feel. At this point, he's probably borderline UCLA level, but isn't too far away.

Cedric Latimer, 6-5, Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward, is a lefty, with a pretty good stroke, some good size to him, and explosiveness off the floor. He's somewhat inexperienced but has the tools to be a high major.

Quincy Pondexter, 6-5, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, is a very good athlete with a great body, and developing skills.

Jervaughn Johnson, 6-6, Compton (Calif.) Centennial is a stud physically, weighing probably at least 225, but is probably caught in the tweener category. He does have some decent perimeter skills but probably lacks the quickness to play there. If he steps up and shows that he can play with more aggressiveness, there's a chance he could grow into a UCLA level player.

Power Forward

Brandan Wright, 6-9, Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy, is one of the elite players nationally in the class, with very good athleticism and quickness for his size. He'll be recruited by all the biggies nationally.

Durrell Arthur, 6-9, Dallas (Tex.) South Oak Cliff, has a very live body and aggressiveness around the basket. Probably among the top 20 or so early prospects for 2006.

Pierre Niles, 6-7, Memphis (Tenn.) Treadwell, is a great-looking combo forward, with enough bulk (at about 235) to play down low, but the skills to step out. A top 25 potential player.

James Keefe, 6-8, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, at this point might be the best power forward prospect in the west in the 2006 class. Keefe's feel and skills are very advanced and it's just a matter of his body getting bigger and his athleticism improving a bit for him to be an elite high-major. He's attended UCLA games and the Bruins have been on him early. A top 40 national prospect potentially.

Daniel Deane, 6-7, Salt Lake City (Utah) Judge. He can step out and shoot while being strong enough to bang inside. He has good all-around skills for a guy his size but just average athleticism. Right now, he's further along physically and skills-wise that either Keefe or Stepheson.

Alex Stepheson, 6-8, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, is close to Deane and Keefe, and could have the most upside among them. He has good skills, and good athleticism, while still a bit raw. The question is whether he'll be able to thicken out in the lower part of his body so he can throw around some bulk. A potential top 40 national type.

Center

Brian Zoubek, 7-0, Cherry Hill (New Jersey) Haddonfield Memorial, is among the best inside post scorers in the class. He's also an excellent student and UCLA will take a shot with him.

Ray Hall, 6-10, Denver (Col.) Mullen, is one of the best five or so prospects in the west in this class, and conservatively among the top ten centers in the class nationally. He has a big body, which continues to tone up, with a very advanced skill set. A top 40 potential player, UCLA is among his early leaders.

Brook Lopez, 6-9, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, and...

Robin Lopez, 6-9, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, are another set of twin towers that could be potentiallly elite. Both look good physically, with wide shoulders and frames that could hold weight, and a good, basic feel, while their skills are still a ways away. They're getting early attention from the Pac-10, but will need to continue to develop to be elite high majors.

Taylor Harrison, 6-8, San Clemente (Calif.) High, has the potential to be a UCLA prospect, with a good, long body and natural aggressivrness. His athleticism could improve and he's just learning how to play, but having gone to UCLA's games this year, and having the Bruins as an early favorite, he's definitely one to watch.

Terron Sutton, 6-8, Los Angeles (Calif.) Price, looks like a younger and smaller brother of the Collins twins, with a pretty large lower body, not great quickness, but a good low-post feel. He'll have to continue to improve considerably to be a high major, and projects right now as a probably closer to a mid.

Spencer Hawes, 6-8, Seattle (Wash.) Prep, is a kid we haven't seen much, but is getting some early attention from the Pac-10.

Nick Jones, 6-9, Issaquah (Wash.) Skyline, is another big man from the state of Washington that is on most coaching staff's lists.

Matt Shaw, 6-7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei, is big-bodied, pure low-post player who will have to either get bigger or improve athletically to make it to UCLA's level.

2007 Class

Who knows how many scholarships UCLA will have to give to the 2007 class, but it's probably a very good bet that they'll have more than just the two they now project to be have to give. Also, what recruits they get at what positions in 2005 and 2006 will determine the positional needs for the UCLA class of 2007. But it's probably pretty safe to say UCLA could be looking for more guards and wings in this class, and always safe to say they'll want at least one big.

For a class this early, just coming off their freshmen season, there are an inordinate amount of clear high-majors and a good amount that would have a chance to be for the class of 2007 on the west coast.

It's really too early for us to list national elite recruits in 2007 since we haven't seen or aren't familiar with many, so here are the west coast guys.

Early Elites

Kevin Love, 6-8 PF/C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, as a freshman, is probably the best low-post prospect in the west right now behind Robert Swift. His skills are better than most of the post players in the Pac-10 right now; in fact, he probably would have started for UCLA this season. Not only very sophisticated in his low post moves, but loves to bang, is aggressive and has a mean streak. The son of former Duck and NBAer, Stan Love, he's a top ten national player FOR 2007. If he continues to get bigger physically, he'll have the chance to go to the NBA out of high school. Head Coach Ben Howland watched Love work out during his trip to the northwest last week.

Taylor King, 6-6 PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is getting thicker physically and looks like he'll be a natural four man. He already has a great low-post feel, able to post up with either hand and, of course, has that feathery outside jumper, and great passing ability. Hopefully he'll gain about another inch and put on muscle. If he's 6-7 and a well-built 230ish as a freshman, he has a chance to be a major force. He is, of course, verbally committed to UCLA.

Tyrone Shelley, 6-5, El Cajon (Calif.) Christian, is perhaps one of the best prospects in the west among the 2006 and 2007 classes. Shelley has a great basketball body, athletic and long, with good lateral quickness for his length. His skills are coming along, and he has a great natural scoring instinct. A potential top 25 national player.

Jerryd Bayless, 6-0 PG, Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's, is the early best point guard in this class. He's explosive, quick, can really handle it, sees the court and can break down defenses. His shot is just okay at this point. Of course, Arizona has to be on him, but they did already take a commitment from a sophomore point guard from Texas, Nic Wise. Bayless, though, in our opinion, is a better player, which could present a dilemma for Arizona. UCLA will try to be right there.

Guys With a Very Good Chance

Clint Amberry, 6-9 PF/C, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View, could very well be listed on the Early Elites list. He's a big kid, with a good body and frame, and his skills really took a major step forward this season as a freshman. He also got control of his body much better in the last year. UCLA is trying to line up youngsters, and Amberry is one on the list.

Quintin Watkins, 6-2 SG, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, is one of the best athletes in the west, with great explosiveness and a great body. He has an okay stroke at this point, but also has the potential to be a great defender. He was ineligible for a portion of his freshman season, which isn't a great sign.

Alex Jacobson, 6-10, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, transferred from St. John Bosco, and is actually the correct age for his grade, which is unusual these days. He's got a great body, that could obviously hold more weight, and has a very good basic grasp of the game, with a nice stroke. He's still growing into his body and his quickness and agility improve just about every time we see him.

Chace Stanback, 6-5 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, is one of the best-looking freshman prospects in Los Angeles. He is long, wide-shoulder, with a body that could hold more weight, athletic, and has one of the prettiest outside jumpers in the city. Reportedly a good student, too.

Venoy Overton, 5-8 PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, is probably the second best freshman point guard prospect in the west. He's still pretty small, but has a good frame, with long arms, and looks like he'll still grow considerably. He can really shoot, has great vision, good quickness and great poise for his age. He'll have to get bigger, but he is just a freshman.

Pierce Brooks, 6-6 CF, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, is stuck in the middle of being a small forward or a power forward, and the way his body goes will decide it. He has good skills, but is a bit slow-footed. If he grows a couple of inches, and he very well might, having size 16 shoes, he has the makings of a nice frontcourt player. Also a good kid, and close to Jordan Farmar.

Tim Shelton, 6-5 SF, Bakersfield (Calif.) High, had a very effective freshman season, but has a body that projects possibly more as a baseline player, which could hurt him if he doesn't grow. His older brother, Titus Shelton, is a current junior, and is a 6-6, thick mid-major power forward. Tim has better perimeter skills. At this point, though, he's someone to just keep an eye on.

Jesse Woodard, 6-0 PG, Compton (Calif.) Centennial, is getting a great deal of hype, which isn't necessarily a good thing for him, giving him so much to live up to over the next few years. Woodard is a pretty good player, with a good natural feel and passing ability. However, he looks very physically mature for his class (being a year older), and has just average quickness. The question is how much upside there is, but he's someone to watch.

Jay Dee Luster, 5-7 PG, San Diego (Calif.) Hoover, is a naturally flashy player, who is great on the break, and can hit his outside set shot. He is, though, very small (5-7 being generous), and would have to grow considerably to be considered an elite high major.

Dane Settles, 6-3, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, is a fluid, long, good athlete. He lacks explosiveness just yet, but is, again, just a freshman. He has superior skills and composure, and with an average projected amount of development will probably be a high major.

Wendell McKines, 6-5 SF/PF, Richmond (Calif.) High, is reportedly a man among boys. We haven't seen him, so we can't evaluate him, but from what we've heard he's a strong, physical kid who gets it done inside, dominating weaker opponents.

Austin Daye, 6-2, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge, looks like the best example of a kid who will grow, being very skinny and looking like a baby. As of right now, he can really shoot it, so he makes the list. It also helps that he's Darren Daye's son.


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