The big recruiting issue hanging over UCLA basketball currently is Kansas transfer David Padgett.
The 6-11 freshman, of course, announced he would be transferring from Kansas. He has been given his release to talk to four schools – UCLA, Louisville, Stanford and UC Santa Barbara.
Padgett already officially visited Louisville the weekend of May 7-8. He has a plan to visit UCLA next week, on the 24th and 25th. To date, he doesn't have any other official visit planned. He did visit Stanford when he was recruited out of high school.
Padgett completes his final exams at KU today, so you can probably expect more information in the news about him shortly.
It's generally thought that it's mostly a two-team race, between UCLA and Louisville. It's known that he and his family like UCLA quite a bit, but Louisville and Rick Pitino are impossible to count out, especially since the Padgetts were very enamored with him during David's first recruiting go-round.
Comparatively, though, UCLA could be a better fit for him. Padgett wants to play the face-up four, and Louisville, with their recent commitments, will have a few 6-8ish power forwards on their roster. Being 6-11, you'd have to think that Padgett would be playing the post, given Louisville's personnel. At UCLA, Padgett will play with Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey, two near seven-footers who are best suited at the five, giving Padgett a shot at the four slot.
Padgett also might be thinking he'd prefer a bit more cosmopolitan atmosphere after the fishbowl of Kansas, which he very well could experience all over again at Louisville.
To our knowledge, Stanford appears to be a longshot. It appears the Padgetts are interested, but David would have to had done exceptionally well, in tough classes, in his freshman year at KU to be admitted to Stanford. Sources are indicating that, given the situation, it's unlikely he'd be able to transfer to Stanford.
Santa Barbara is considered a longshot, but don't completely discount the possibility. David's father, Pete, who has a strong hand in David's career, was an assistant under Santa Barbara head coach Bob Williams. If Padgett went to Santa Barbara he would certain be the big fish in a much smaller pond.
It's believed by sources close to the situation that Padgett could very well take some time in making his decision, possibly most of the month of June.
Of course, if Padgett does transfer to UCLA, he'll have to sit out a year and then be eligible as a redshirt sophomore for the 2005-2006 season.
With the rescinding of the 5/8 rule, UCLA's recruiting takes on a whole new perspective. Despite having four freshman come to UCLA next fall, and possibly the addition of Padgett, UCLA could still take more for next fall. It's transfer season, and even though we haven't heard specifically about any player wanting to transfer to UCLA, it very well could come up in the next month or so. You'd have to think that there could be some transfers out there that might perceive the potential for immediate playing time at UCLA after sitting out a season, particularly at small forward. With the loss of Trevor Ariza, who has opted to put his name in the NBA draft and not return to UCLA, and the miss on Malik Hairston, UCLA could need an injection of athleticism at the wing.
Given that, here's the new re-set of the 2005 class. For the 2005 fall, UCLA would, as of now, only have seven players on scholarship (eight if you count Padgett), so they have some flexibility. It makes sense that UCLA would ideally like to give out three by November. If UCLA gets Padgett, it, to put it mildly, makes the situation in the future frontcourt far less desperate. Not getting Hairston makes another wing, preferably one more suited to the small forward position, a priority. And UCLA will need a point guard/combo guard to fill out its backcourt. So, the priority has shifted considerably in the last month or so, with UCLA's priorities being at least one post player, a combo/point, and a wing. If UCLA gets Padgett, it would still have five rides available for 2005. If UCLA could get two elite posts, it very well could do so, and still give out scholarships to a point and a wing, and then save a ride for spring or the more talented 2006 class. If UCLA didn't get Padgett, they'll for certain take two posts and more if they could get them. UCLA would only fill all five available rides if they were able to get commitments from elite targets, wanting to keep a ride open, again, potentially for spring or 2006.
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. Recently it doesn't appear that UCLA has been too prominent in Davis's recruitment.
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 Notre Dame 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, though, had a relatively poor spring overall, and will need to step it up this summer for UCLA to offer him. It appears that a potential official visit will happen more likely after summer.
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, even though only UCLA and Washington have offered. Brockman took his first official visit, to UCLA, the weekend of May 14th. Sources close to the situation indicate that UCLA is his leader, but it's close, with hometown Washington the big competition. He'll wait until fall to take more official visits.
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 is recruiting him heavily, fighting against North Carolina, Kansas, Stanford and others. UCLA will get an official visit from Costner May 21-23.
Ben McCauley, 6-8, Herminie (Penn.) Yough. McCauley is a skilled frontcourt player who was considered a small forward, with small forward-type skills, that has grown into 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 saw him this spring, liked him quite a bit, and he has now moved up the desirability list.
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.
Lawrence Hill, 6-7 Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. 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. Hill didn't have a great spring and many programs could be taking a wait-and-see approach.
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.
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 for 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 seems to know. He is a top twenty player on many national lists. UCLA is keeping tabs on Johnson, letting him know that they'd love him -- if he could get past UCLA admissions. The most recent word is that Johnson's academics could have improved in his junior year.
6-8, Oakland (Calif.) Castlemont. Oakes isn't well known, but is easily among
the best big men in the west. He's a long, slender post, and probably a true
five, but has nice potential with good athleticism, hands and feet. UCLA is
Others to Know:
Davon Jefferson, 6-7, Lynwood (Calif.) High. Probably the best power forward in the west, but UCLA almost certainly won't be able to recruit him due to academics.
Jamal Boykin, 6-7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Boykin is getting some high major attention. He's a great kid, plays hard, and brings all the intangibles you could want, but he's limited athletically and skills-wise to play at this level. UCLA has watched him and probably has him on the back-up list.
Darren Collison, 6-0, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. A true point guard, Collison has good point guard instincts 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. Collison isn't known very much nationally, and possibly could still fly under the radar to a degree. Being a pure point, he very well could be the perfect fit for UCLA for 2005. The issue will be whether Collison wants to come to UCLA a year behind Jordan Farmar, but with Farmar potentially a two-and-out player, or with the option of playing them both in the backcourt at the same time, UCLA could be Collison's best long-term option.
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 has been crossed off his list and it looks like he's going to pick Kansas over Arizona soon.
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 but doesn't seem to be making much headway. Stanford is thought to be the clear leader.
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. Losing Malik Hairston, who played on the same AAU team, makes this one difficult, though.
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. From what we know, Pruitt has taken the SAT this spring and has yet to achieve a qualifying test score.
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.
Martell Webster, 6-6 SF, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. A top five player and, on some lists, he was 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. It seems more and more that Webster is concentrating on Arizona and UCLA exclusively, especially since UCLA didn't get Malik Hairston. He has to improve his grades for UCLA to recruit him, and recent reports indicate he's done better in his junior year.
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 is now on him pretty seriously. Interestingly enough, they could have a decent chance. Williams has indicated at times that wouldn't mind leaving Washington for college. He's more of a two-guard type -- being more perimeter-oriented and less physical than you would like in your small forward. But UCLA needs a wing, and Williams is among the best in the west, and he has good academics.
Terrence Williams, 6-4 Seattle (Wash.) Rainier. Another from the state of Washington, Williams is a stud of an athlete with developing skills. He had a very good spring and has many elite schools after him. UCLA will look into the possibility of getting involved.
Joey Shaw, 6-6, Chandler (Ariz.) High. An 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.
D'Andre Bell, 6-5, Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades. Emerging as one of the best wings in the west for 2005, Bell has the body and athleticism of a high major, and his game has dramatically improved in the last year. A lefty, he now has an accurate stroke to three, and also plays with great energy. UCLA has started to show interest.
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. UCLA hasn't been very active with Smith lately, and we'll see if it rekindles this summer.
Others to Know:
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 since he just hasn't come far enough skills-wise.
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. He might very well be someone UCLA could get involved with if he has a big summer.
Tyler Newbold, 6-4 Payson (Utah) High. Skilled and mature, but maybe not UCLA's caliber.