As the lead-in to this piece, read Re-Setting the Hoops Recruiting Situation.
Just to quickly review, UCLA will probably give out three scholarships to the class of 2005, probably to two post players and a point/combo guard. If, though, they don't get Malik Hairston, they'll be looking to also add a small forward in the class.
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're fighting some of the midwest powers for him, like Michigan State, Louisville and Illinois, along with North Carolina and Syracuse.
Eric Boateng, 6-10, Middletown (Del.) St. Andrews. A big, talented Brit, Boateng was first discovered 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. TheInsiders has him as the #12-ranked player in 2005 and the best center prospect in the class nationally. He visited UCLA April 18th, and had previously visited Michigan officially. The Bruins will probably have a relatively good chance with him.
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. He got hurt during a game in a Vegas tournament in April when Ben Howland was watching him, so UCLA is still in scouting mode with him. Wallace likes UCLA, having taken an unofficial visit in August. He'll play in a tournament at UCLA Memorial Day, and there is a tentative plan for him to visit officially soon after that.
Jon Brockman, 6-7 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 even power forward offensive 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 has been recruiting Brockman aggressively, especially since he has very good academics. He went back east for tournaments this spring and impressed coaches and scouts, and improved his stock considerably, to the point that elite high majors are on him, like North Carolina and Duke. UCLA and Washington have offered, and Brockman will take his first official visit, to Westwood, May 14th.
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. UCLA will get an official visit from Costner sometime in May.
Brayden Bell, 6-8, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. The #2-ranked post prospect in the west, Bell has good size, a good body and very good skills. He perhaps is the most skilled offensive big man in the west, with exceptional hands. he impressed coaches at a spring Vegas tournament, and has the likes of Louisville, Kansas and others on him. UCLA is now involved.
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. Recently he hasn't been listing the Bruins.
Lawrence Hill, 6-7 Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. An intriguing prospect, Hill is an Ed O'Bannon type power forward – lean, and quick in the post. He has the body of a small forward, but plays like a power forward. He probably weighs 200 pounds right now, and if he can add muscle to go along with his athleticism he could be a solid player at UCLA's level. Right now his game is limited to rebounds, put-backs and everything around the basket, while trying to step out and hit threes. UCLA has shown interest in Hill, while Stanford could be tough to unseat as his leader. He has said that Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State are his three favorites.
Ben McCauley, 6-8, Herminie (Penn.) Yough. McCauley is a skilled front court player who was considered a small forward, with small forward-type skills, that has grown into possibly playing down low. He's gotten interest in the past from Pittsburgh and North Carolina State, but now North Carolina and other elites are noticing. UCLA will try.
Jordan Wilkes, 6-11, 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, this spring, the coordination has caught up with the body. Wilkes has gone from possibly not even a D-1 player to probably at least the lower end of the high-majors. 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 17 feet. What's encouraging is that every time we see Wilkes again he gets better, and quicker. He's still skinny and lacks strength, and needs to improve his aggressiveness, but he's come so far, and continues to develop, you might have to think that he's a guy UCLA will end up recruiting. How well he does this summer will determine quite a bit. He has said that UCLA is among his favorites, along with Stanford. He could be influenced by where his brother, Omar, transfers to, if that's Stanford.
Ricky Sanchez, 6-11, Caguas, Puerto Rico. Sanchez is a very intriguing prospect, with the agility and skills of a pretty polished 6-6 small forward, in a 6-11+ body. He has a very nice outside jumper, consistently able to knock down threes, and can create space for himself to get it off. He handles the ball well, is pretty good off the dribble, and is a great passer, being able to see his teammates well. Physically Sanchez is still pretty thin, weighing about 215, but he has good, square shoulders and the type of muscle tone you could see being able to hold more weight. Right now, at the age of 16 (which is what he told us), you wouldn't characterize him as weak, able to body up on frontcourt players well defensively. He's not really explosive off the floor, but for a kid his size, at his age, he has good athleticism with some great lateral quickness. He could get pressure to go pro in a year, but he said he's interested in going to college, and listed UCLA, KU, Indiana, Florida and Texas as schools recruiting him so far. He's a top 50 national caliber player.
Brett Hoerner, 6-10, Fullerton (Calif.) High. Hoerner is a bit of a dilemma. In a down class for big men, he's among the best in the west and a potential top 100 type player nationally. He, though, is very skinny, and hasn't put on much weight in the last year. This spring at the Vegas tournaments, he at first lacked aggressiveness, but built some confidence and, by the end, was playing more aggressively. Why he's such a quandary is that he's stated pretty clearly that UCLA is where he'd like to go, but as of right now, he's borderline good enough for UCLA to recruit seriously. If he continues to get aggressive this summer, UCLA very well might, though. Washington and the Pac-10 schools are involved, and more might be soon.
Fendi Onobun, 6-7, Alief (Tex.) Taylor. Onobun verbally commited to Arizona this month. He's a studly, athletic player with limited offensive skills, but a tough banger inside who will rebound and block shots. While he is committed to Arizona, it's still early and he very well could consider other schools still.
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 has been showing some interest.
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 fpr him to jump into the elite level, and for UCLA to go after him.
Brian Morris, 6-7, Portland (Ore.) Jefferson. A big body with some decent skills, Morris will probably be among the top 4-5 power forwards in the west. He's limited athletically, but having that big body and a pretty stroke gets him on the second-tier UCLA list.
Obi Ikeakor, 6-9, Houston (Tex.) Westbury Christian. Ikeakor is wide body, probably weighing 230+., who bangs well underneath, has decent skills, but is just an average athlete. The UCLA coaching staff has some connections into Ikeakor and probably have him on their secondary list.
Martellus Bennett, 6-7, Alief (Tex.) Taylor. A tremendous athlete, Bennett has been offered by UCLA football as a tight end. Wherever he goes to play football he's definitely good enough to walk on to the basketball team, with very good athleticism and toughness around the basket.
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. UCLA, to our knowledge, isn't recruiting him because of the academic snags.
Others to Know:
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.
Mario Chalmers, 6-1, 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, while Arizona could be the leader, while there will be other big names on him.
Anthony Goods, 6-2, Corona (Calif.) Centennial. Always having the potential to be a high-major recruit, Goods is realizing that potential more now. 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's also an excellent student. UCLA is recruiting him, while Stanford, Oregon and probably many more will be involved.
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 are now recruiting him pretty seriously. The Bruins have a connection with the Collison family.
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. He plays on the same AAU team that Malik Hairston did.
Gabe Pruitt, 6-3, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. We're including him here as a lark. Pruitt, a senior, has signed an NLI for USC, but there is a reasonable enough information to believe that he could opt to go to prep school for a year if he doesn't qualify academically. If he did go to prep school, his recruitment would almost certain open up, and UCLA would be on that list, since he grew up wanting to play at UCLA and is best friends with UCLA commit, Arron Afflalo. So it all sounds good, but there are plenty of hurdles along the way. First, if he does qualify, he will go to USC. If he doesn't qualify and goes to prep school, his academics might not be good enough to salvage for admission to UCLA. And if it's possible that he could qualify for UCLA, it's questionable that he could be okayed by UCLA's admissions by the November signing period. So, there are plenty of "ifs" involved here, which make it a longshot. Even if he did make it to UCLA, he could be problematic. Not that he isn't a good kid, which Pruitt is, but he isn't too dedicated to academics. He'd have to show maturity and a new dedication to the books if UCLA were to take him, and do it now, and during the summer. If all of those ifs do come through, it would be very fortunate for UCLA, since, among the point guards listed here, Pruitt is a better prospect than all of them. He's more skilled, athletic and has a better feel.
Henry Dugat , 5-11, Dayton (Tex.) High. Dugat is a combo guard, and a bit undersized for it, but he is a great athlete, with tremendous quickness and hops, to go along with some nice shooting skills. He thinks like a scorer, but also shows some point guard instincts. UCLA is scouting him currently.
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.
Others to Know:
Brian McTear, 5-10, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. A sure, steady point who's pretty slight physically, McTear, though could be an option at point for 2005, especially if he has an impressive summer.
Kashif Watson, 6-1, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. The younger brother of Tennesee's C.J. Watson, Kashif has looked big and athletic so far this spring, but more like a shooting guard than a point guard. He's on UCLA's list to watch.
Lamar Falley, 6-3, Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango. Another Vegas player who has a chance to be a high major, Falley has good size, athleticism, and pretty advanced skills to both score and distribute, but has a tendency to play out of control. He's on the watch list.
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.
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.
Harvey Perry, 6-4, 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.
Micah Downs, 6-7, Bothell (Wash.) High. He's emerged as a potential top 25 player nationally, being called another Mike Dunleavey. In fact, Duke's Coach K recently visited him at his school. He's very athletic, skilled and long, and plays with aggressiveness. UCLA has been on him for a while, as has assistant Kerry Keating, so they're among his favorites. Even if UCLA doesn't need a wing, Downs is so good UCLA will probably recruit him regardless.
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. 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. With UCLA recruiting wings less, they've been less involved with Smith.
Others to Know:
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.
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.
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, he could live up to his high major athleticism. But it's unlikely UCLA will recruit him.
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.