2006 & 2007 Prospects to Watch

In today's college basketball recruiting environment, it's never too early to be looking at rising sophomores and juniors. Here's a look at potential UCLA targets in the high school classes of 2006 and 2007...

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...

With the 5/8 rule now rescinded, UCLA has many possibilities when it comes to scholarship allocation over the next several years.

It's looking like UCLA will stand pat with its four recruits coming in this fall in the class of 2004. There is a possibility of transfers and foreign players, but more than likely they'll have just four.

In the 2005 class, they'll almost certainly give out three, and possibly a fourth.

So, for the 2006/2007 season (which would be the freshman season for high schoolers in the 2006 class), UCLA will probably already have eight to nine scholarships spoken for. That would leave 4-5 scholarships available. Plus, UCLA will lose Matt McKinney to graduation for the 2007 season. So, UCLA could have five to six scholarships to give to the 2006 and 2007 high school classes total. And that's not counting the possibility of any other scholarships becoming available by then.

Both the 2006 and 2007 classes are looking fairly talented early, at least in the west. So UCLA would like to have possibly three scholarships available in each of those classes to give out.

How many UCLA has to give to those classes depends greatly on what they ultimately give out to the class of 2005. While the 2005 class isn't as talented, it is sooner, and UCLA needs help sooner rather than later.

With UCLA already having a commitment from a 2005 point guard (Darren Collison) UCLA will be going after two bigs in the class of 2005, and possibly a wing. If UCLA gets two bigs, they could give out 1-2 rides to bigs in 2006.  If they don't get a wing in 2005, they'll almost certainly take one in 2006, and possibly two.  So, you can probably anticipate that UCLA will be giving out probably three scholarships to the class of 2006, probably to any combination of wings and bigs. It might be that the priority would be one big and one wing, and then taking the best player available, regardless of position.

The amount of scholarships that will be available for 2007 is almost impossible to predict. If UCLA filled all of its available rides over the next couple of years, they would only have one to give to the 2007 class, and that's already spoken for by Taylor King. But you can almost certainly expect UCLA will have at least three scholarships to give to the class of 2007, given all of the scenarios laid out above.

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. And, of course, since it's very early, there will be many names that aren't on this list that will be targets.

But with summer evaluation period upon us, 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. It's a recruiting class that UCLA really needs to stock up on with talent, particularly bigs, which it particularly lacks, and the 2006 class is rich in bigs. The 2006 class in the west, as of now, though, will be good for UCLA, with good talent among its bigs and decent among its wings, the two positions UCLA will need for the class. 

It's a blessing that UCLA got a commitment from 2005 point guard Darren Collison. The definite weakness of the 2006 class in the west is point guards and if they hadn't gotten Collison, or any othe 2005 point guard, they would have been fairly desperate to get one in the 2006 class. But with the commitment of Collison we'll look past the 2006 point guards and concentrate on the other positions.

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. They could take two wings in the 2006 class if they don't get one in the 2005 class.  

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. UCLA will try, but it could be a long shot.

Tre'Von Willis, 6-2, 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.

Jeremiah Rivers, 6-4, Winter Park (Fla.) High. The son of NBAer Doc Rivers, he's considered among the best perimeter players in the nation for the 2006 class. He has shown early interest in UCLA, as well as a few other elite programs.

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

Chase Budinger, 6-5, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High, as of right now, is probably the best wing 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. Also a big-time volleyball player, which could help UCLA in recruiting.

Phil Nelson, 6-6, McNary (Ore.) Keizer. Seen really for the first time out of Oregon this last spring, where he wowed everyone with his combination of athleticism and advanced skills.  He'll probably be among the best in the 2006 class in the west and a UCLA target.

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.

Alex Tyus, 6-6, Florissant (Missouri) Hazelwood Central. A top 100 type national player in the class who has shown interest in UCLA.

Power Forward

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.

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.

Alex Stepheson, 6-8, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, is close to Keefe, and could have more upside. He has good skills, and very 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 and get more aggressive. A potential top 40 national type.

Robin Lopez, 6-10, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. The power forward of the twins, Robin and his brother Brook have continued to get bigger and better. They're high majors, with good grades and moving up UCLA's priority list.

Richard Semrau, 6-9, Rocky River (Ohio) Lutheran. Came out of nowhere this spring to show he's one of the best national frontcourt players in the class of 2006. Lists UCLA early.

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.

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 than either Keefe or Stepheson.

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, 6-10, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. Twins with Robin (who is listed in power forwards), Brook is the more aggressive, more post-like of the two.  Both look good physically, with wide shoulders and frames that could hold weight, and a good, basic feel, while their skills continue to develop. They are definite high majors, with good grades. They're getting early attention from the Pac-10, and UCLA will target them.

Taylor Harrison, 6-8, San Clemente (Calif.) High, has the potential to be a UCLA prospect, with a good, long body and natural aggressiveness. 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 long, athletic and moves very well. He's still fairly thin but has a good body, one that could put on good bulk. He plays on the same AAu team as 2005 target Jon Brockman and will probably be a target in 2006.

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.

Craig Brackins, 6-8, Lancaster (Calif.) High. A complete sleeper who hasn't played AAU ball. But he's big, long, and has athleticism.

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 at least two, if not three. 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, 6-8 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.

Omondi Amoke, 6-5 SF, Santa Barbara (Calif.) High.  A very good athlete with a good body, who handles it well for his age and size, with big hands. Interesting prospect.

Isaiah Jenkins, 6-2 PG/SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester.  He has good size and a strong body and is a good athlete while he handles the ball well. He's very assertive for a youngster.

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.

Kyle Singler, 6-7 SF, Medford (Ore.) South Medford. A great-looking prospect both physically and skills-wise for a freshman. Projects early as a high major.

Alex Jacobson, 6-10 C, 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, is a good passer, 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 SG, 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 a man among boys. He's physically developed so he might not grow much more, but right now he's getting it done inside, dominating weaker opponents.

Austin Daye, 6-4 SG, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge, looks like the best example of a kid who will grow, being very skinny and looking like a baby. He's already grown a couple of inches in the last year while he still looks young. 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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