Hoops Recruiting/Roster Analysis

Getting close to the end of the July evaluation period gives us a better perspective on UCLA's recruiting efforts in basketball. Here's a look at the recruiting priorities for the next couple of years...

Looking at how the personnel projects for not next season but the two following seasons you get a sense of UCLA's recruiting priorities.


           PG                       SG                  SF                   PF                   C      
SR:                                                                      Ryan Hollins     Mike Fey

JR:                                                                      Matt McKinney

SO:   Jordan Farmar  Josh Shipp  Arron Affalo                        Lorenzo Mata

FR:   Darren Collison        ___________            __________    ___________


SR:                                                                     Matt McKinney

JR:   Jordan Farmar   Josh Shipp  Arron Affalo                        Lorenzo Mata

SO:   Darren Collison       ___________            __________    ___________

FR:                              ___________             __________   ___________


Of course, UCLA can only have 13 players on scholarship at one time. But with the abolishment of the 5/8 rule, it enables UCLA to take advantage of all 13 scholarships quite a bit more quickly.

The dilemma for UCLA is the fact that the 2005 class isn't strong, particularly on the west coast, and particularly with bigs, which is UCLA's roster priority. If the deep, talented 2006 class had followed the 2004 class UCLA would be looking very good in recruiting. But UCLA knows, despite a down class for 2005, it still needs to bring in some players in the 2005 to turn around the program as quickly as possible.

Basically the rule in roster building is that you should have six or seven perimeter players (point guards, shooting guards and small forwards) and six or seven bigs (power forwards and centers). With the 2004 class coming in, UCLA did quite a bit toward building its backcourt, but is still woefully inadequate in the frontcourt.

Looking at the diagram above, you can see the plan for re-building. With a commitment from point guard Darren Collison, the backcourt is looking solid for the next few years, with Farmar, Affalo, Shipp and Collison. In the frontcourt, for the next two years, UCLA has only three players it would project as being able to have a impact at this level, Fey, Hollins and Mata. Then, after Fey and Hollins graduate in 2006, it's down to Mata and would-be-senior Matt McKinney, who would hopefully be able to provide strong back-up minutes. So, over the next couple of years in recruiting, it's pretty clear what a priority bigs are for UCLA.

This is why UCLA is looking to bring in two bigs with the 2005 class, and probably five total between the 2005 and 2006 classes. While it does this, it probably just needs to bring in a couple of wings (shooting guards or small forwards) over the 2005 and 2006 classes.

UCLA is so in need of top-flight talent, it wouldn't necessarily care about specific positions when it comes to bigs. IF UCLA got commitments from two elite players that are probably thought of as power forwards, they would certainly take them, and play them in their two post positions. Elite talent, at this point, is the priority, and UCLA doesn't really have the luxury to get picky about getting that talent at specific the post positions.

Obviously, UCLA would like to get two commitments from among the frontcourt players it's offered: Jon Brockman, 6-7, Snohomish (Wash.) High; Ryan Wright, 6-8, Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) Loyola Catholic; Brandon Costner, 6-7, West Orange (NJ) Seton Hall Prep; Ben McCauley, 6-8, Herminie (Penn.) Yough; Eric Boateng, 6-10, Middleton (Del.) St. Andrews.

Brockman and Wright, probably the two that UCLA has the best chance with, would really provide UCLA the infusion of elite talent it needs in its frontcourt. Costner provides some versatility since he is probably capable of playing the four and the three, and as UCLA gets more bigs in the 2006 class, that versatility would be advantageous. McCauley would also be a great addition, and it's believed UCLA has a good shot at getting an official visit out of him. Boateng is thought to be leaning heavily to Duke and could commit soon to the Blue Devils.

But what if UCLA gets only one from this list – or perhaps none? This is why UCLA is considering offering more post players in the 2005 class is to guarantee at least that UCLA gets some bigs from the class.

But you just can't take big bodies to take big bodies. They have to show some signs that they would be able to play effectively at UCLA's level. As of right now, no other post players in the 2005 class that UCLA would have a chance with have shown that clearly during the July evaluation period, at least in our opinion.

We're all familiar with the prospects that have been considered. Critical this week will be how well many of these post players on the cusp will play, such as Kenneth Cooper, the 6-9 center from Monroe (Louisiana) Richwood. And to gauge how much real interest in UCLA some of the players outside of the west, like Cooper, have in UCLA.

It's also very possible that UCLA waits until spring. There are always players that develop considerably during their senior year, or more possibility of finding a foreign post player, or a transfer.

Probably the most likely scenario is that UCLA gets one post player from among its already-offered list, and one other longer-term, development type of player. Given the talent in the 2006 class among post players in the west, guys UCLA would have a good chance to get, this would be a very adequate accomplishment with the 2005 class.

At the wing, UCLA has more of a need at small forward than it does at shooting guard, with both Arron Affalo and Josh Shipp more suited to the shooting guard position. But again, UCLA necessarily can't be too position-specific picky when it's trying to re-build its program. Over the next two recruiting classes it needs two wings that, first and foremost, can play at this level. If it happened to get more of shooting guard type in the 2005 class it would really target small forward types in the 2006 class, and vice versa. For instance, if UCLA took D'Andre Bell, the 6-4 wing from Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades in the 2005 class, it would have as a higher priority a small forward prospect in the 2006 class, like Chase Budinger, 6-6, Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon, or Alex Tyus, 6-6, Florissant (Missouri) Hazelwood Central. But again, the priority is talent level rather than position. Even with Shipp and Affalo being more suited for shooting guard, UCLA would take a shooting guard in the 2005 class if he were talented enough and then possibly play Afflalo or Shipp, or the 2005 wing, at the small forward position.

For the 2006/2007 season, to fill out the 13 scholarships and to stock the roster properly, UCLA could take one wing and then three bigs. James Keefe, the 6-8 forward from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, fits into the scenario very well. Having to get three bigs, Keefe is a good fit because he could possibly develop into a small forward, providing flexibility among the three bigs UCLA would probably take in the 2006 class.

Shaping up to be the other prime post targets in the 2006 class are Spencer Hawes, 6-10, Seattle (Wash) Prep; Brook Lopez, 6-11, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial; Robin Lopez, 6-11, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial; Ray Hall, 6-10, Denver (Col.) Mullen; Daniel Deane, 6-7, Park City (Utah) Judge; Taylor Harrison, 6-8, San Clemente (Calif.) High; Andreas Schreiber, 6-8, Los Angeles (Calif.) Brentwood School; and Alex Stepheson, 6-8, Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake.

UCLA would have an excellent shot with Keefe, as well as with each of Hall, Deane, Harrison, Schreiber and Stepheson.

And for such a deep list, it's still very early for 2006. There will be other names that will be added that UCLA will have a good shot with. So, UCLA is looking particularly good with bigs for 2006.

With such a strong list of good posts that UCLA would have a good shot at getting in 2006, it might provide UCLA a little bit of security in taking a bit of a risk on a development post for 2005. But still, even as a development type of player, the prospect would still need to show strong signs that he can eventually play at UCLA's level.

If Farmar stays at UCLA through his junior season, with the addition of Collison at point guard, that position should be set through the 2006/2007 season.

What would also relieve some of the pressure of having to get two elite post talents from the 2005 class would be a solid frontcourt transfer, one whose scholarship would count in the Matt McKinney class or the 2004 class, after a redshirt transfer year. Getting an impact frontcourt player who would be a senior or junior, say, in the 2006/2007 season, to go along with the talent in the backcourt, would tilt the roster a bit more toward junior/seniors than sophomores/freshmen in the 2006/2007 class, perhaps giving it the talent/experience it might need in the junior year of the Farmar/Afflalo/Shipp/Mata class to be a strong team. This is just speculation, not based on any knowledge of a transfer, mind you.

This whole scenario, as it's laid out and diagrammed, though, leaves only one scholarship available for the 2007 class, and that is already spoken for by Taylor King, the 6-6 forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. You would expect, though, that UCLA will probably have at least one more scholarship open up for the 2007 class by then, either from someone going pro or transferring.

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