Head Coach Ben Howland probably logged the most hours following Jon Brockman, the 6-7 senior power forward from Snohomish (Wash.) High, and his Friends of Hoop team.
Following around Friends of Hoop, Howland was also able to double dip – actually quadruple dip. He also watched Friends of Hoop teammates Martell Webster, the 6-6 small forward from Seattle (Wash.) Prep, who is at the top of UCLA's wish list among small forwards, senior point guard Mitchell Johnson from Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea and elite 6-10 junior center Spencer Hawes from Seattle (Wash.) Prep.
Friends of Hoop won the Main Event, one of the three tournaments in Vegas. To win it, FOH had to win five games on the last day of the event, and Howland attended each. (You also want to congratulate FOH coach Jim Marsh, the former NBA player and assistant coach at Utah, who is one of the actually really good guys in AAU ball).
Howland didn't spend any less time at the games of Brandon Costner, the 6-7 senior combo forward from West Orange (NJ) Seton Hall Prep, and Ryan Wright, the 6-8 senior power forward from Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) Loyola Catholic.
He also took in the majority of games played by Darren Collison, the 5-11 senior point guard from Etiwanda (Calif.) High committed to UCLA.
It was quite obvious that these prospects are among the top priorities for UCLA in the class of 2005.
With Duke having offered Brockman, Coach K also spent time at the games of Friends of Hoop. The word is that it will ultimately be a race for Brockman among hometown Washington, UCLA and Duke. Many close to the situation believe he'll stay on the west coast, but that could be under-estimating the allure of Duke.
Costner is still playing it very close to the vest in regards to recruiting.
A source said that UCLA was doing very well with Ryan Wright.
As we've speculated before, if in fact Arizona, Webster's longtime favorite, doesn't want to wait on him and opts for two other wings, UCLA, from what some believe, could then move up a notch to the favorite for Webster. Webster and Brockman are close, so it could help with the recruitment of Brockman if he has a sense that Webster would go with him to Westwood.
D'Andre Bell, the 6-4 senior wing from Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades, sat out the Vegas tourneys with an injured groin. UCLA has yet to offer, but UCLA has indicated to Bell that they like him quite a bit.
Alonzo Gee, the 6-6 senior wing from Palm Beach Gardens (Flor.) Dwyer, had a number of UCLA coaches at a number of his games in Vegas. From what we've learned, UCLA is showing interest and gauging Gee's interest. He has yet to be offered.
Larry Gurganious, the 6-5 wing from Berkeley (Calif.) St. Mary's, is someone UCLA will probably scout.
When it comes to more big man targets in Vegas, there was some potential shuffling of priorities.
Brett Hoerner, the 6-10 center/power forward from Fullerton (Calif.) High, wasn't particularly aggressive or assertive in many of his games. UCLA was considering offering him, but in our opinion Hoerner will have to show quite a bit more aggressiveness in the last leg of the July evaluation period during tournaments in Los Angeles. Hoerner has a rail-thin body, one that doesn't look like it would be capable of putting on much weight, and he'd have to show that he could play physically at the elite high major level with aggressiveness and toughness.
Jordan Wilkes, the 6-11 center from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, also didn't show much assertiveness while in Vegas. Wilkes' body has gotten bigger and he probably has a chance to get bigger physically, but it's just a matter of whether Wilkes has the fire and competitiveness. He sat out the last day of the Adidas Super 64 with what he said was a quad injury.
Alfred Aboya, the 6-7 power forward from Tilton (NH) Tilton School, is someone UCLA is watching, UCLA coaches attending a few of his games in Vegas.
Two prospects UCLA will investigate further are Brayden Bell, the 6-8 power forward from Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton, and Kenneth Cooper, the 6-9 center from Monroe (Louisiana) Richwood. Bell showed in Vegas that he's the most skilled big man in the west. It's just a matter of Bell playing hard and his attitude. Cooper is a big body, probably 240 pounds, with good athleticism and a feel for the game. He'll be in Los Angeles for a tournament this week and the plan is for him to visit UCLA's campus.
UCLA would love to be able to recruit Davon Jefferson, the 6-7 power forward from Lynwood (Calif.) High, who is easily one of the best prospects in the west, but academics are a question.
Dior Lowhown, the 6-5 senior power forward from Hayward (Calif.) High, might be someone UCLA continues to watch.
Alvin Mofunanya, a 6-8 senior post from Englewood (NJ) Dwight-Englewood, played with Brandon Costner on the Playaz, and showed great feet and athleticism.
James Keefe, the 6-8 junior forward from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita played with his high school team in Vegas, which put him in a lower division and some remote gyms. Not many college coaches made it out to many of the obscure gyms in Vegas, but there were three UCLA coaches in attendance at one of James Keefe's games to show him love.
Ray Hall, 6-10 junior center, Denver (Col.) Mullen, is a huge body with limited athletics, but great skills. He'll be among UCLA potential targets for big men in 2006.
Spencer Hawes, who will be among the best centers in the country in his class, as mentioned above, will be a big target.
Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, both 6-11 junior centers from Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial, will also be among the best centers in the country next year. Brook is better, more aggressive and physical. They're also excellent students. But most close to the situation think they're headed to either Stanford or the NBA. Their mother went to Stanford and she's been very focused about sending her kids there. As a UCLA fan, you'd almost hope that Stanford gets the Lopezes so that they stay away from the other big man prospects in the west for 2006.
Andreas Schreiber, 6-8 junior power forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Brentwood School, could end up being among the best in the class. Being from Sweden, he has great skills, but just needs to toughen up and get more physical.
Alex Stepheson, 6-8 junior center, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, looks good physically and is a good athlete, but his skill development has slowed.
Derrick Jasper, the 6-4 junior shooting guard from Paso Robles (Calif.) and Tre'Von Willis, the 6-2 junior shooting guard from Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union, are two that will definitely be on UCLA's list.
Wayne Ellington, a 6-4 junior wing from Merion (Penn.) Episcopal Academy, played on the same team as Brandon Costner and showed great talent.
This isn't, of course, a comprehensive list of UCLA's recruits, just those that participated in Vegas among the 2005 and 2006 classes that UCLA will probably target.