With the rescinding of the 5/8 rule, UCLA's recruiting has taken on a whole new perspective.
Despite having four freshman come to UCLA next fall, 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 during the summer. 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 the small forward and power forward positions. With the loss of Trevor Ariza, who has opted to put his name in the NBA draft and not return to school, UCLA needs an injection of athleticism on its front line. Also, watch for UCLA possibly getting involved with foreign players, either for this fall or the class of 2005.
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 (counting its recent commitment by point guard Darren Collison), so they have some flexibility. It makes sense that UCLA would ideally like to give out at least two more in addition to Collison by November, and probably three. Collison, thankfully, fills the need at point guard/combo guard, so UCLA's backcourt looks very solid at this time. Now the priorities would be least two post players, and a wing. If UCLA could get two elite posts, it very well could still give out a scholarship to a wing, and then save two rides for for spring and the more talented 2006 and 2007 classes.
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 and he has the toughness that Howland wants to bring into the progrma. 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. Brockman, as of right now, is a huge priority for UCLA.
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 of 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 and attended a camp at Duke. The Bruins will probably have a relatively good chance with him but at this point, it's difficult to tell with Boateng and his people keeping information very close to the vest.
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 #3-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. Louisville was thought to be the leader but they now have commitments from three big men.
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 therefor makes it on to UCLA's A List. He has played up and down this spring and summer, but east coast schools are still fighting for him, schools like Michigan State, Louisville and Illinois, along with North Carolina and Syracuse. RecentlyUCLA has still been hanging in there, making his trimmed list of schools, but it's thought it will ultimately be an east coast thing.
Brett Hoerner, 6-10, Fullerton (Calif.) High. In a down class for big men, Hoerner is 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. He has good athleticism, with good feet and hands, and is a good shot blocker with good offensive skills. He's stated pretty clearly that UCLA is where he'd like to go, and his performance during the July evaluation period will go a long way in determining whether UCLA will offer him. If he continues to get aggressive this summer, UCLA very well could. Washington and the Pac-10 schools are involved, and more might be soon. He took an unofficial visit to UCLA this spring.
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 last fall it still was questionable whether he'd ever develop into a D-1 player. By spring, the coordination had 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, and it's thought that if UCLA offered, the Bruins would be hard to beat. Stanford was thought to be the leader previously but with Omar Wilkes, his brother who left Kansas, turned down by Stanford admissions, the younger Wilkes is now discouraged with 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 from his Puerto Rican people, and other factors make him somewhat of an unknown quantity to go to college. UCLA, KU, Indiana, Florida and Texas as schools he's interested in. He spent about a month in Los Angeles this spring and played on UCLA's campus in a tournament. He's a top 50 national caliber player.
Artem Wallace, 6-8 Toledo (Wash.) High. He's ranked the #2 center 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 he didn't look his best. He was scheduled to take an official visit to UCLA, but it was then cancelled. He subsequently visited Washington and verbally committed. More than likely Wallace holds to that commitment, but there is possibly some wiggle room.
Jeff Pendergraph, 6-8, 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 had some very good showings recently, looking explosively athletic rebounding the ball and blocking shots. He's a Pac-10 level player, but it will take some more development for him to jump into the elite level. UCLA is watching him at this point. He's also the high school teammate of UCLA commit Darren Collison.
Brian Morris, 6-7, Portland (Ore.) Jefferson. A big body with some decent skills, Morris will probably be among the top 5-6 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.
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.
Dior Lowhorn, 6-6, Berkeley (Calif.) High. Undersized (he's probably closer to 6-5), Lowhorn, though, has some nice athleticism and a developing offensive game. UCLA will watch him.
Darren Collison, 5-11, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. COMMITTED. 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. He'll give UCLA the quickness it needs in its backcourt. UCLA just started to show interest this winter during his junior year, and then recruiting him pretty seriously this spring. He took an unofficial visit to campus and then verbally committed June 13th. Collison is a top-100 national caliber player but isn't known very much nationally, and possibly could still fly under the radar to a degree this July, which would all be good for UCLA; the less college coaches see him the better. Being a pure point, he very well is the perfect fit for UCLA for 2005. UCLA needed a point guard, and coming in after Jordan Farmar, there still will only be four perimeter players on the roster in 2005, giving Collison plenty of opportunity for playing time, especially with Farmar potentially being a two-and-out player.
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 Pruitt is truly an elite-level player. He can play off the ball as well as the point, so if all of those "ifs" came to pass, he could plug in to UCLA's backcourt easily. Pruitt has taken the SAT this spring and has yet to achieve a qualifying test score.
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. But at this point he's Arizona's to lose.
Marcus Williams, 6-5 Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. A very promising prospect with good size, body and skills. He'll probably be a top 75 national level prospect and UCLA is now on him. 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 20 national player in the 2005 class, Smith is a big, physical three with good skills. UCLA is trying to hang in there with Smith, while Kansas and Tennessee lead.
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.
Bryan 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.