Artem Wallace, the 6-8 post player from Toledo (Wash.) High that committed to Washington recently, had planned to come to the UCLA camp. From what we've heard, he was packed and ready to go, but didn't get on the plane.
Ryan Wright, 6-8 PF, Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) Loyola Catholic. He earned a scholarship offer from head coach Ben Howland. Wright is a long-armed athlete with a great body (probably 215ish) that could easily get bigger, and he's only still 16 years old. His skills are still raw, but he has a very good basketball knowledge and knows where his shot should be, even if he can't make it consistently. He gets quite a bit done just on his athleticism alone right now. Huge hands and great at catching the ball in the post. He's also a very good student. Probably at least a top 50 player nationally in this class.
Darren Collison, 5-11 PG, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. The committed point guard looked very good in the camp. He practically gets better every time we see him, which recently has been every few weeks. He's very quick and his ballhandling has improved so much that he was almost unguardable one-on-one for most of the other campers. He has a very good point guard feel, with a good passing instinct. He needs to get bigger and stronger to stay with bigger guards defensive, but he has clearly already improved his size and strength. His outside shot goes down quite consistently, but it's a long stroke that he probably needs to take because of a lack of strength. The general consensus is that UCLA getting a commitment from him was a huge coup.
D'Andre Bell, 6-4 SF, Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades. Bell had a good week, obviously impressing the UCLA coaches. For being still fairly thin, but with a good body, he showed his physical and mental toughness by playing tough against Arron Afflalo and others, and not backing down. He has probably the best mid-range game of any wing in the west and is very sly when driving to the basket. He is suffering from tendinitis in his toe and isn't as springy as we knew him to be a few months ago. It's unlikely that he'll recover from it fully by the July evaluation period, which might keep recruiting interest in him tempered – which might be a good thing for UCLA. UCLA will continue to scout him and very well could consider offering Bell by the end of July. He recently scored a 1070 on his SAT.
Mitch Johnson, 6-0 PG, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea. Johnson, a great student, has offers from Stanford and Washington and, along with UCLA, those are his three favorites. Johnson is a solid pure point guard, whose best asset is running a team well and passing the ball. He can score on open looks with his lefty jumper, but isn't quick enough to really create or break down a good defender. Johnson's other great asset is the fact that he's best friends with UCLA prime target Jon Brockman, playing together on the Friends of Hoop AAU team. In fact, it's thought that where Johnson goes could greatly impact where Brockman goes. Could a package deal of Johnson and Brockman happen? Possibly.
Danny Williams, 6-2 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fremont. Williams is probably the best athlete, pound for pound, in the west coast class of 2005. He not only can fly, he is incredibly quick, and his skills have improved drastically, to the point where he's a definite outside shooting threat. The snag with Williams will be academics, likely going to prep school for a year after his senior year at Fremont. He's also considered a great wide receiver prospect in football but seems to have now dedicated most of his time to basketball.
Diamon Simpson, 6-7 PF, Hayward (Calif.) High. Simpson is at least a solid mid-major power forward. He has a long, lean body, and probably weighs about 200 pounds, but he has a very good feel in the post, exhibiting some nice moves, good athleticism and some good face-up skills. If he grew or even continues to improve, he's someone to watch.
Kashif Watson, 6-2 PG/SG, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. A great body and athlete, Watson's skills haven't come along enough, even though he's shown some flashes recently. UCLA won't recruit him, but he's a player to know.
Marcus Carter, 6-4 SG, Claremont (Calif.) High. Carter has always had great potential, with a great body, athleticism and the ability to handle the ball well, but he just hasn't improved much in his overall skills in the last couple of years. He showed some nice things at the UCLA camp, and the UCLA coaches noticed. He'd be an excellent walk-on.
CLASS OF 2006 CAMP STANDOUTS
This is what this camp was all about – getting the young, elite players onto campus to work with the coaches one-on-one.
James Keefe, 6-8 PF, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. Keefe struggled at times in the camp, but there is no question as to his ability and upside. He has a great frame, great feet and hands, shoots the three, bangs inside, blocks shots and is a relentless rebounder while also playing his butt off. He's also a kid with great academics and character, one of the kids who really responded to Howland's demand for work ethic this week. Possbily his only drawback is that he's not really explosive off the floor, but he makes up for it in everything else. UCLA has offered and really would love an early commitment from him. Apparently his father would prefer him at UCLA.
Alex Tyus, 6-6 SF, Florissant (Missouri) Hazelwood Central. A great-looking wing prospect for the class of 2006, Tyus is a high-level athlete not only with great springs but a great body and good quickness for his size. At 6-6, at least, and probably 210 already, he possesses very good strength. There were a number of times this week when Tyus was able to score merely because of his hops, such as in semi-transition being able to jump and adjust his body in the air to throw down a dunk. His skills are still raw, with a long stroke, but he has a good feel for the game, with a good shot selection sense and instinct to pass. He's an excellent rebounder, able to out-jump most of his opponents but also uses his strength and instincts to get a good bead on the ball. He'll easily be one of UCLA's top wing targets in the class of 2006, and will almost assuredly be considered an elite national recruit. Alex Tyus Recruiting Story
Alex Stepheson, 6-8 PF/C, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. Stepheson is actually a very good complement to Keefe with Keefe being more of a 4 and Stepheson, at this point, more of a five. Stephenson, also, is explosive off the floor. He does tend not to play high, though, and utilize his height and athleticism as well as he should. He's gotten bigger and broader, while still needing to get bigger in his lower body. A good kid and a good student, he and Keefe could very well be UCLA's top two frontcourt targets in the class of 2006. They certainly looked good playing next to each other in UCLA jerseys this week.
Daniel Deane, 6-7 PF, Park City (Utah) Judge. Have to love him. He's a big, square-shouldered, tough banger who comes away from every game with cuts and bruises. He has long arms that practically hang down to the floor. And he can face-up comfortable and shoot out to 15 feet or so effectively. He isn't overly springy and tends to play a bit small inside, but he plays hard and loves to bang. He definitely left a great impression on the UCLA coaches this week.
Taylor Harrison, 6-8 C, San Clemente (Calif.) High. He has to be one of our personal favorites of any player in the class. Everything we said about Deane being a tough banger could be said about Harrison, and possibly even moreso. Harrison can also be a great cheap shot artist, getting tangled up with his opponents and mixing it up inside. He has a big body that keeps getting bigger, with good feet for his size and decent hands. He also has better-than-you'd expect athleticism. In one game, the ultra-athlete Alex Tyus went up for a dunk off both feet in transition. You would have thought that no one could have contested Tyus going for a dunk with some momentum behind him, but Harrison blocked his shot cleanly, above the rim. If UCLA has enough frontcourt scholarships for the class of 2005, Harrison could be a recipient. It's thought that he'd come to UCLA in a heartbeat.
Andreas Schreiber, 6-8 PF/C, Los Angeles (Calif.) Brentwood School. Here's a new name and a new face for you. Schreiber is from Sweden, having moved there from the U.S. when he was two because his mother is Swedish. He returned to the States about a month ago and will attend Brentwood, which is the school attended by Howland's son, Adam. In fact, Schreiber is a family friend of the Howlands. Nice, huh? And it wouldn't matter unless Schreiber was actually any good, and he is. He has a great body, with huge, square shoulders and frame that could add quite a bit of weight (he says he weighs 205 right now). He looks very young, as does his body, like he could definitely continue growing. And he has very good skills for just a sixteen year-old kid who is 6-8. Probably the best outside stroke of any of the bigs listed here. Inside he still needs to get more aggressive and physical, and shake off the European finesse style. The UCLA coaches put him against some of the camp's bruisers to welcome him to America. But Schreiber definitely has a chance to be a UCLA level player. If he continues to get bigger and more aggressive, he has a very good chance. And you'd have to think that Howland might have some influence on where he'd go to college in the U.S.
Others at the camp to watch:
Matt Shaw, 6-7 PF/C, Los Angeles Verbum Dei. Skilled, but limited athletically. Needs to trim up.
Marcus Lawrence, 5-10 PG, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. A tough, heady and quick little point guard, and easily the best point guard in the 2006 class in the west. If UCLA ends up recruiting point guards in that class, he'll be a target.
Nate Schulte, 6-4 PF/SF, Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde . Every year there are some basketball recruits you think should play football. Usually it's because of body type, but in Schulte's case it's because of toughness and attitude. He's a tough mutha, and doesn't back down from anyone inside, even players five inches taller than he is. He has the body, though, of a shooting guard. Pray this kid develops perimeter skills.
Chad DeCasas, 6-4 SG, Mission Viejo (Calif.) Capistrano Valley. A great all-around wing, with very good skills for his age, a great feel for the game and aggressiveness, to go along with a very good body. He's one of the best shooting guards in the 2006 class and could be a UCLA target.
Jerren Shipp, 6-3 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Josh's little brother, Jerren, at this point, is just a very good outside shooter, even though his shot is a little low-slung. His body has really improved in the last year, going from being a bit pudgy to lean. Like with Josh and Joe Shipp, the Shipps are late bloomers physically, and if Jerren continues to change physically, grows and his athleticism improves, he has a chance.
CLASS OF 2007 CAMP STANDOUTS
Clint Amberry, 6-9 PF/C, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Oceanside. A young big with a chance, if he gets it in his head he is a post player and not a wing. He has a good young body, with a good frame, and good skills for his age. He just has to get his back to the basket and get stronger and more aggressive. He has a lot of time to do it.
Pierce Brooks, 6-5 SF, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Brooks, last season, played more like a post player and it was thought that if he kept growing he'd have a chance to be a post prospect. He has a size 16 shoe, so it was thought he'd continue to grow. And while he still could, Brooks doesn't look like he has much in the last year. Luckily, though, Brooks is getting better control of his body physically and is starting to look more like a small forward, with his face-up game – shooting, driving and passing – having improved. It will be interesting to see which way his body and skills go. He's also a great kid.
Melvin Oliver, 6-9 C, Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne. It's amazing that such a huge body could be on a high school freshman. Oliver must weigh 300 pounds, and he's definitely round. But he also can play some basketball, showing flashes of a good scoring instinct. If he can slim down and quicken up over the next few years, he has a chance.
A player from the 2004 class, 6-6 small forward Tommy McMahon, San Mateo (Calif.) Serra, attended the camp and looked good. He was one of the best shooters in the camp, and showed good athleticism and a good feel. He reportedly has had mid-major interest.