Re-Setting the Hoops <br>Recruiting Situation

It's a very interesting time for UCLA basketball recruiting, with the prolonged recruiting saga of McDonald's All-American wing <b>Malik Hairston</b> and the potential transfer of Kansas center <b>David Padgett</b>, and the biggest news: the potential end of the 5/8 rule...

After the announcement from the NCAA and its director Myles Brand that the 5/8 rule will be repealed, the question now is: What does that mean for UCLA?

Simply, it's probably the best news UCLA sports has received in quite a while. At least since Ben Howland was hired.

UCLA will now be able to bring in as many scholarship basketball players as it needs – or wants – as long as they don't exceed 13 scholarships in any one year.

That would mean, instead of being limited to bringing in just five recruits next fall, UCLA could conceivable bring in as many as it wants – if the scholarships are available. The required overhaul of the program could be sped up for Howland.

Obviously, there are two big fish out there that would speed up the overhaul considerably – McDonald's All-American Malik Hairston and Kansas transfer David Padgett.

With Hairston, it's still a matter of UCLA riding out the recruiting process. Many close to the situation still believe UCLA is in a very good position with Hairston. His delay in announcing, and possible other visits, make the situation seem bleaker, but some believe that it isn't necessarily. While you'd have to think that visits to both Oklahoma and Oregon could cloud the situation further, it's thought that Hairston is doing it as a courtesy to those programs. Whether the courtesy then becomes something more serious remains to be seen. The word is that Michigan, which many believed posed the greatest challenge in the last several weeks to UCLA because of the hometown allure, might be fading. Kansas and Ohio State also remain on the list, and it's thought that Kansas is still the most viable option for Hairston besides UCLA. A source said that Hairston's planned visit to Oklahoma this Friday is still not completely certain, as is a trip to Oregon, which would be possibly the next weekend.

Bottom line: Nothing in Hairston's recruitment is completely certain. There are enough sources indicating that UCLA is still in a strong position, though, to have confidence in that.

For Padgett, the timetable might be just as cloudy. He will remain at KU and complete the semester, which is thought to be over by mid- to late-May. It's believed, though, that he could have a decision before that, possibly in the next couple of weeks.

There is the faction of believers close to the situation that assert Padgett would go to North Carolina if he were allowed. The issue is whether Kansas, in releasing Padgett, will make it contingent on him not going to North Carolina. Kansas very well could feel slighted by its former coach, Roy Williams, and preclude Padgett from going there. Apparently, the KU staff is pretty bitter over Padgett leaving the program, and could very well take out their bitterness in not allowing him to go to UNC.

UCLA, from what we understand, will be a school the Padgetts will consider. If North Carolina is out of it, UCLA's chances would then increase considerably.

The reports that C.J. Giles, the 6-11 center from Seattle, has been released from his National Letter of Intent and that UCLA has contacted him are erroneous. Giles still has yet to be released by Miami, and no schools have officially contacted Giles. Giles, as has been reported, does want out of his NLI. He met with the new Miami coach, Frank Haith, yesterday, at Giles' high school, Rainier Beach, to firmly express those sentiments. It's now up to Miami athletic director Paul Dee, who has a history of not allowing recruits out of NLIs.

If Giles is let out of his NLI, it's thought that Washington, Kansas, Arizona, UCLA and even Duke could be interested. Many close to the situation think that there is a lot of pressure for him to stay home and play at Washington. Kansas, a school that was seriously involved with him last fall and where his father played college ball, would also be a distinct possibility. UCLA would definitely try with Giles, but it's believed the Bruins would probably be in line behind those others.

UCLA could possibly not stop with just Padgett and Hairston. With the 5/8 rule abolished, if UCLA gets more scholarships available, they could conceivably take more than potentially Hairston and Padgett. It is just the beginning of transfer season. As of right now, there are no other players that we know of that could be potential transfers to UCLA, but there could be more that crop up in the next couple of months.

If, in fact, UCLA does get Hairston and Padgett, it would greatly alter UCLA's approach to recruiting the class of 2005, and make it quite a bit less urgent. UCLA definitely needs a post player, and there isn't one in the 2005 class that UCLA is involved with that's as good as Padgett. If UCLA gets Hairston, it would relieve them of having to recruit wings for 2005.

It would, though, leave them four scholarships open for the 2005 class. But with the addition of two impact players like Padgett and Hairston, and the fact that they'd want to have more than two scholarships available to the 2006 class, UCLA very well could opt to give out only three scholarships to players in the 2005 class by this November, and keep one available for spring or for the 2006 class (to allow them to have three scholarships available for 2006). The 2005 class is also not near as talented as 2006, or 2007.

Again, just speculating, but if UCLA gets Hairston and Padgett, you can probably expect them to recruit for two bigs and a point/combo guard. Even with Padgett, UCLA is still thin up front. After Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey graduate in two years, the only frontcourt players they'll have on scholarship would be Padgett and Mata. Normally, a sufficiently stocked college team has five frontcourt players on its roster. So, getting two (at least) in 2005 would be a priority. Also, bringing in a point guard/combo guard would become the next biggest need. First, UCLA needs someone to take the back-up point guard minutes behind Jordan Farmar, but also provide another option in the backcourt, giving UCLA the ability to run two play-making type guards. Also, it's not inconceivable that Farmar will potentially go pro early and UCLA would need someone to step into the starting position.

A rundown on all the 2005 recruits that could fill the potential scholarships is coming up...

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