Vegas Madness, Day Three

Here's an update from Day Three of Vegas Madness from a UCLA perspective, with a look at the situation with posts <B>Brett Hoerner</b> and <b>Jordan Wilkes</b>, and underclassmen <b>Jerryd Bayless</b> and <B>James Keefe</b>...

Day Three in Las Vegas got a little heated in the late afternoon/early evening. In the course of a couple hours, a travel team coach attacked a referee and a parent screamed at a coach for not playing his kid while play was stopped and the entire gym watched in embarrassment. Meanwhile, in another gym one player knocked out another player with what was described as a Rudy Tomjanovich/Kermit Washington type blow. It's been very hot in Vegas, the gyms are too far apart and there's now traffic in Vegas. The coaches are frazzled, the players on edge, and the scouts are bitter and caustic.

Jordan Wilkes, the 6-11 center from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, continues to improve, getting more assertive, but there's still a question of whether UCLA would offer him – or Brett Hoerner, the 6-10 center/power forward from Fullerton (Calif.) High, for that matter.

UCLA would probably get a commitment from Hoerner as soon as they offered, and would immediately be a major player and possibly the leader for Wilkes. In fact, many close to the situation believe Wilkes has delayed his decision to wait to see what UCLA will do with him. He has said he will visit UCLA uofficially in August.

The theory here for UCLA is that they have a number of guys they have offered, but they would still like to get two bigs in the class of 2005. While there is a chance they could get Jon Brockman and, say, Ryan Wright, you'd have to consider it somewhat of a lonshot. So, it follows that UCLA should possibly take either Hoerner or Wilkes, two prospects with a great deal of potential, and take them as development guys. Hoerner probably has a slight edge as the better prospect, quicker and more athletic than Wilkes. But, on the other hand, Hoerner hasn't shown he can put on weight, still looking rail-thin, while Wilkes, who is also pretty thin, does look to have gained some weight and looks to have the potential to gain more weight. There's also the issue that if UCLA got any among the guys they've offered, all of those guys are predominantly power forward types, and UCLA could use a real center type to go along with him. Wilkes is more of the true center than Hoerner.

The other issue is: If either one of these two had jumped out and really played impressively this July UCLA probably would have offered him. But neither really have. Hoerner, it has to be said, could still be hindered by the dislocation of two of his fingers that kept him from participating in the Nike Camp earlier this month.

We'll watch Jordan Wilkes today with his Pump N Run team to see if he'll possibly show more prospective flashes that could prompt UCLA to lean his way. This is just speculation, but as of right now, you would think UCLA is undecided between the two, and undecided if they should offer either, in fact.

Sam Warren, the 6-9 center from Denver (Col.) Cherry Creek, was looking like a possibility there, but some circumstances look to be diminishing those chances. For one, his AAU coach refuses to play him, holding him out of the entire second half of Saturday's game with numerous coaches in attendance specifically to watch Warren, including UCLA head coach Ben Howland. (Warren, if he knows what's good for him, should leave Colorado Pump N Run for the last week of July in Los Angeles). Warren has yet to post a qualifying SAT or ACT score. He also has questions about his desire, which might have led to his AAU coach not playing him much. For UCLA, there would also be a question that they know they would have a far better chance of getting Hoerner and Wilkes than Warren, and the degree of difference between the three isn't that significant that you'd want to get in a recruiting battle for Warren.

Albert Aboya, the 6-7 power forward from Tilton (New Hampshire) Tilton School, is intriguing. He has a great body and moves really well, and a decent stroke. He is just a good rebounder, not great, and you would think, with his body and athleticism, would be better. While he's physical with setting screens and playing defense, he doesn't tend to like to work hard around the basket for boards. But being still fairly lean but at 240 pounds, he's someone possibly UCLA could turn into a rugged, strong four, if they don't get the current targets.

Jerryd Bayless, the 6-1 sophomore guard from Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valey, continues to show just how talented he is, good enough to be among the best players in the class of 2006 nationally. He's very tough to guard, with great quickness, and his skills have come really far, making for a nasty combination. In AAU ball, he is tending to go one-on-one too much. He and teammate, 6-2 junior guard Christian Polk, just keep alternating between their one-on-one attemps without playing real basketball, which led to their loss against Indiana' Blessed IJN and Aboya. Polk and Bayless are two of the most talented underclass guards in the west, but we're hoping they'll remember how to play real basketball as they get older and read their own hype.

James Keefe, the 6-8 junior forward from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita played with his high school team in Vegas. He had college coaches raving about him, about his skill level and relentlessness. UCLA would consider the class of 2006 a success with jus a commitment from Keefe.

Alex Stepheson, the 6-8 junior power forward from Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, has seen his stock dip a bit in recent months. He hasn't taken his game to the next level this summer, needing to play bigger and stronger around the basket. Yesterday, in helping lead his Pump N Run team to a come-from-behind victory, he did show more presence under the basket and above the rim.

Tommy McMahon, 6-7 senior combo forward, San Mateo (Calif.) Serra, is an interesting mid-major prospect. He's a legit 6-7 and probably weighs 205, with a body that could easily put on 20-25 more pounds. He's big enough and strong enough to guard fours at the mid-major level, but he also has nice perimeter skills and quickness, presenting matchup problems offensively. His shot is streaky at this point, going hot and cold, but it's a great stroke out to three. If you remember, McMahon attended UCLA's camp and the Bruins would love to get him to walk on.

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