Post-July 2005 Hoops Recruiting

UCLA's list of prospects for 2005 has changed considerably as a result of the July evaluation period, with new names like <b>Alonzo Gee</b> and <b>Luc Mbahamoute</b> being added to the list that includes old standards like <b>Jon Brockman</b> and <b>Ryan Wright</b>...

In the aftermath of the July evaluation period, some elements of UCLA's recruiting for the class of 2005 have changed a bit.

UCLA still intends to give out a total of four scholarships, to two post players, a wing and a point guard.

They, of course, have a commitment from their point guard.

Their recruiting needs remain post players. Projecting UCLA's roster in the next few years, as we did in an article just last week (Hoops Recruiting/Roster Analysis), UCLA will sorely need post players, so this July UCLA coaches were scouring the country looking for them. Since post players are such a big priority, it was apparent that, after going out and evaluating for the month of July, the UCLA coaches were trying to find some back-up plans in case their top post targets don't come through.

There have been plenty of reports this summer about UCLA prospects, and possible UCLA prospects. You can't necessarily trust the accuracy of many of the reports. It's not that the reporter was being disingenuous, but that what the prospect or the prospect's AAU coach said was possibly misleading. So, if a player might have been mentioned this July in some other report as a UCLA target, or possibly even that he had been offered by UCLA, more than likely if you don't see him on this list it isn't accurate.

POST PLAYERS

Jon Brockman, 6-7 power forward, Snohomish (Wash.) High. The big UCLA target had a great July, out-playing and out-working opponents in leading his Friends of Hoop team to the championship of the Main Event in Las Vegas. He then played a day in the L.A. Best of Summer tourney, and then shut it down. Brockman's performance this July will probably secure him a place among the top 20 players in the country.

Big developments in Brockman's recruitment this July were Duke and North Carolina offering him. He now has a list of schools that includes UCLA, Washington, Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga and Arizona, all of which have offered.

What we're hearing from good sources is that UCLA is still doing very well with Brockman, despite some intense recruiting interest from the likes of Duke and others. In fact, there are those close to the situation that believe UCLA holds a lead with Brockman, with Washington and Duke the other main contenders. It's still believed that Brockman doesn't want to leave the west coast, and that it will take a great deal of persuasion from Duke to get him to cross the country. But then again, when he takes his official visit to Durham sometime in the next couple of months, you really can't underestimate the appeal of Duke and Coach K. Washington is definitely in the mix, but it's believed that the big deciding factor for Brockman with Washington is if his FOH teammate and friend, point guard Mitchell Johnson, decides to go to Washington. It's thought that Brockman will probably only opt for Washington if Johnson does. Right now, the two main leaders for Johnson are Stanford and Washington and, from what we've heard, he's leaning to Stanford. So, if Johnson decides on Stanford, that helps UCLA's chances with Brockman considerably. UCLA likes Johnson and there is still a possibility that UCLA could offer Johnson and want to take him with Brockman. Johnson attended UCLA's camp in late June.

The commitment of Jamal Boykin to Duke probably doesn't impact Brockman's opinion of Duke too drastically, just muddying the waters a bit. It's thought that Duke intends to take four post players, and they still have a place for Brockman. Taking so many, and already having commitments from Josh McRoberts and Boykin and thought to be close to one from Eric Boateng, wouldn't necessarily dissuade Brockman from considering Duke altogether but probably does make him think about potential playing time among so many posts in one class.

Even though Brockman has said he'll wait until at least November, there are some close to the situation that think he might not. While he hasn't taken any other official visit besides the one to UCLA, it's thought he could still possibly want to get his recruiting over with soon. So, while it very well could last through November, there is a chance Brockman could make a decision soon, too. A List.

Ryan Wright, 6-8 PF/C, Mississauga (Ontario, Canada) Loyola Catholic. He was somewhat unknown until the spring, but now, by the end of July, is considered a top 30ish national player. He's athletic and has a great body, and is a smart, good kid. He has consistently listed eight schools – UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Georgia Tech. He said he would narrow down his list soon after the evaluation period. A source close to the situation said that UCLA is on the shorter list of favorites. He has already taken an unofficial visit to UCLA, for its camp in June, but there is a very likely chance he'll also visit UCLA officially. A List.

Brandon Costner, 6-7 PF/SF, West Orange (NJ) Seton Hall Prep. UCLA coaches spent a great deal of time at the games of Brockman, Wright and Costner during July, probably indicating that these three are at the top of their priority list for bigs in the class of 2005. Costner is a talented lefty, and a top 30ish national player. He has visited UCLA officially – his only official visit to date. His list of schools has fluctuated, with some names jumping on and off – but other than UCLA it's mostly been Connecticut, North Carolina State, and Seton Hall, with Kansas, Michigan, Indiana and Georgia Tech also involved. A List.

Ben McCauley, 6-8 PF/C, Herminie (Penn.) Yough. A player who blew up this spring and continued to this summer, he has the skills to step out but the bulk to defend inside. He'll probably be a top 50 type nationally. UCLA has been on him for a few months, as has Pittsburgh, N.C. State and a few others, but now the likes of Kentucky, Florida and Georgia are showing interest. UCLA, being the lone west coast school involved, will try to get an official visit. A List.

Eric Boateng, 6-10 C, Middletown (Del.) St. Andrews. A big, athletic – but raw – big man originally from England, Boateng is considered one of the best center prospects nationally in the class of 2005. He has taken an official visit to UCLA, and to Michigan, but apparently he doesn't have much interest in either anymore. It has been believed that he'd commit to Duke soon, but he could take a couple more official visits. At this point, he's a longshot for UCLA. A List.

Alfred Aboya, 6-7 PF/C, Tilton (NH) Tilton School. A 240-pounder originally from Cameroon, Aboya plays physically down low but also has a decent jumper. UCLA had been on him a bit before July, saw him at the Nike Camp in early July and has been looking into him since. With the evaluation period just ending, it's uncertain as to what schools are recruiting him and which Aboya's serious about. He had committed to Georgetown early on, it being the only college he knew when he came from Cameroon a year ago, but he's opened up his recruitment to the likes of possibly Virginia, Connecticut and Kansas.

Kenneth Cooper, 6-9 C, Monroe (Louisiana) Richwood. An intriguing big man who has flown under the radar quite a bit since he lost about 40 pounds from a year ago, Cooper is easily a top 100 national player. He is really the type of center prospect UCLA would want: big (at about 240), active, physical and likes to rebound, box out and set picks. LSU has been on him, as has Texas Tech. UCLA made inquiries in spring, and Cooper looked good in front of UCLA coaches in July. UCLA is looking into Cooper, but it could be difficult to get involved this late, especially when you're competing with LSU for a Louisiana kid.

Tyrell Biggs, 6-7 PF/C, Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco. Biggs is a big-bodied big, with also a nice offensive game. He's probably a top 50 level player. UCLA has been trying to get involved, but schools like Duke, Connecticut, Maryland and others are pursuing pretty aggressively.

Brayden Bell, 6-8 PF/C, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton. Probably the most skilled big man in the west, Bell would be more highly regarded if he played harder and had a better attitude. UCLA needs post players, especially those with Bell's skills, so they'll probably look into him further. Utah, USC and even Kansas have shown interest.

Shaun Green, 6-7 PF, Salt Lake City (Utah) Olympus. Green could be the second-most skilled big man in the west. He can really shoot it, out past the three-point line and has good offensive skills around the basket. He's not very big, and is just an average athlete. But again, with the dearth of skilled big men, he's a guy UCLA spent some time watching this July. Pepperdine, Utah, San Diego State and others are on him pretty hard.

Ryan Reid, 6-7 PF, Lauderdale Lakes (Flor.) Anderson. Reid is the big-bodied AAU teammate of wing Alonzo Gee, so UCLA coaches watched him quite a bit while they were following around Gee. He's wide, probably about 240, and very physical, which results in a good amount of rebounds. UCLA is looking into him.

Diamon Simpson, 6-7 PF, Hayward (Calif.) High. One of the guys on the west coast that helped his stock the most this summer, Simpson is a quick athlete with some good skills. The Pac-10 is interested, and UCLA is considering him. He attended UCLA's camp in June.

Dior Lowhorn, 6-6 PF, Berkeley (Calif.) High. Probably even closer to 6-5, Lowhorn, though, is a great athlete, with a live body who is among the best rebounders in the west. His offensive skills are also coming along well, with a good-looking jumper. Academics could preclude UCLA from recruiting him, but he's on the list of to-watch guys.

Brett Hoerner, 6-10 C, Fullerton (Calif.) High. Hoerner, coming off an injury (two dislocated fingers) and an illness, didn't play at the Nike Camp, and didn't generally have a good July. UCLA was interested, and still is, but he wasn't effective (read physical and aggressive) enough last month to warrant a UCLA offer. The other question is really if Hoerner can add weight and strength, and will he be able to defend a center at the elite high-major level. If he gets bulkier and more aggressive – soon – UCLA could get on him seriously.

Jordan Wilkes, 6-11 C, Los Angeles (Calif.) High. Wilkes, like Hoerner, also lacks aggressiveness and physical toughness, which is probably the reason UCLA hasn't been on him too hard. Wilkes, though, could have a better chance than Hoerner since, at least, Wilkes has put on weight in the last year or so, is quite a bit bigger than Hoerner, probably more able to defend a five, and his development has come so far you'd have to think he still has a ways to go. But time's running out with Wilkes; he could probably make his decision between Stanford and California soon, before he would have the chance to show UCLA more development.

Sam Warren, 6-9 C, Denver (Col.) Cherry Creek. A good-looking body at about 235, and good athleticism, Warren, though, still lacks a good feel for the game and aggressiveness. At this point, it's unlikely UCLA would show real interest, unless, during the evaluation period in September he has the opportunity to show he's gotten better.

Davon Jefferson, 6-7 PF, Lynwood (Calif.) High. One of the guys UCLA would love to recruit, but academics more than likely preclude them from it. If Jefferson doesn't commit early, and his academics improve, there would be a chance, but there's a slim chance of that.

Chris Oakes, 6-8 PF/C, Oakland (Calif.) Castlemont. He's rail-thin, and probably weighs 190 pounds, but Oakes is the most active, pound for pound, big man in the west. He might not, though, have the capability of adding enough bulk to play effectively at UCLA's level.

Jeff Pendergraph, 6-8 C, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. He sat out some of July with an injury, but Pendergraph had a good first couple of weeks. He's long, athletic, and has the body that could put on weight, and has. He also showed some new offensive skills, which had many college coaches intrigued. The teammate of UCLA commit, Collison, UCLA will scout him in the upcoming evaluation period.

John Oates, 6-10 C, Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco. A player from the 2004 class who is reportedly qualified academically, UCLA coaches saw Oates back east in July. He's a legit center, who reports have the likes of St. John's and others offering. UCLA has shown some interest. Obi Ikeakor, 6-8 C., Houston (Tex.) Westbury Christian. Ikeakor is a big body, probably 240 pounds, that remains on UCLA's possibility list.

Foreign Player. That's the best we can do for you when it comes to a name. From what we've heard from sources overseas, though, is that he's about 6-8 and is skilled, but not overly physical. Reportedly he's not as good as UCLA's top tier of post players, but someone to consider.

WINGS

UCLA would prefer a wing in the 2005 class who was more of a small forward – that is, about 6-5 to 6-7, with a strong body and is able to rebound. But, in rebuilding the program, and with the 2005 class being weak, UCLA isn't in a position to be too position-picky. The biggest priority is getting a wing who can play at UCLA's level and make an impact. If that happens to be a wing who is more of a shooting guard than a small forward, UCLA will then pursue small forward types in the 2006 class, which, incidentally, is deeper for small forwards anyway.

Martell Webster, 6-6 SF, Seattle (Wash.) Prep. Webster was considered one of the best few players in the country a year ago, then an injury knocked him out of his junior year and he's still trying to get back all the way from it. This summer he wasn't as good as he was last summer, but still showed enough signs of getting back to where he was. He's big, weighing probably 230 now, and skilled, and still one of the top ten wings in the country. He has said Arizona is his favorite, but also said he could wait to decide. Arizona is pursuing (and offering) other wings, and if they took commitments from others, it's believed that UCLA would then be Webster's favorite. He's also close with fellow AAU teammate, Jon Brockman, and the only two places they would go together are Washington and UCLA, and it's conceivable that Webster and Brockman could influence each other, especially if Webster doesn't go to Arizona. Also, if UCLA or Washington gets Brockman and Webster, they'd have a big advantage in possibly getting Spencer Hawes, the 6-10 junior center who is also from Seattle (Wash.) Prep and a Friends of Hoop teammate, and one of the best centers in the class of 2006 nationally. A List.

Luc Mbahamoute, 6-6 SF, Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy. Mbahamoute is a well-put-together athlete who is very active on both sides of the floor. He has great quickness laterally, and also an explosive rebounder. His shot has a hitch in it, but it isn't like it never goes down. UCLA had made contact with Mbahamoute before, and UCLA head coach Ben Howland saw him at the Nike Camp in early July. A recent report indicates UCLA has offered Mbahamoute. It's uncertain what other schools are the competition at this time. A List.

Alonzo Gee, 6-6 SF, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer. Gee is a good athlete, with a good body, probably weighing 210, who moves well and has good quickness. His offense is still developing, but he has a good first step and is a good slasher. UCLA has offered and is showing serious interest. A List.

D'Andre Bell, 6-4 SG, Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades. Bell is a tough, talented wing who attended UCLA's camp and impressed the coaches. He is more of a two-guard, but he's one of the best in the west for 2005, with good ball-handling and passing skills to go along with a good jumpshot. We've heard that he wants to leave Southern California, and that could present another hurdle for UCLA. Arizona, Michigan State and Georgetown are the three current favorites.

Marcus Williams, 6-6 SG, Seattle (Wash.) Roosevelt. UCLA has been trying with Williams but the Bruins aren't getting much love. Williams is a long athlete with talent but isn't very physical for a small forward. He told us a few weeks ago that he'd take some unofficial visits to Arizona, Connecticut and Maryland in August and then possibly decide.

Larry Gurganious, 6-5 SF, Berkeley (Calif.) St. Mary's. An intriguing possibility, Gurganious could have the most upside among any of the west coast wings on this list. He has a very live body, and has great quickness. He also handles the ball very well and is a good passer. His limitations are, first and foremost, his jumpshot, and he tends to get out of control, still learning how to play the game. Washington and Oregon State are showing him attention as of now and UCLA is considering him. Joey Shaw, 6-6 SG, Chandler (Ariz.) High. Shaw is one of the best shooters in the west, even with a bit of a set shot. But he can also score driving to the basket and with a mid-range. The question is his body mostly, still being pretty skinny, and looking like he could be unable to gain too much weight. He's a guy probably still on UCLA's list, but they'd probably have to miss on a few others before they go to him.

POINT GUARD

Darren Collison, 5-11, Etiwanda (Calif.) High. The committed point guard generally had a good summer, looking good at the Adidas Superstar Camp where many said he was among the best pure point guards at the camp. Collison continues to get better, just about every time we see him. His quickness, even, continues to improve, and right now he's very difficult to guard. He has a good feel for the game and can create well for his teammates in a halfcourt and lead a break. His outside shot has a long stroke, but it still goes in consistently. As Collison gets bigger and stronger, which he already has, his upside is tremendous. He gives UCLA the quickness they desperately need in their backcourt. A List.

Mitch Johnson, 6-0, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea. A skilled and steady point guard, Johnson has emerged as one of the best in the west. He runs a team very well, gets his teammates the ball for scoring opportunities well, and has a strong enough outside shot to keep defenders honest. He is only moderately quick. UCLA could consider him, not only because he could help with the recruitment of Jon Brockman, since the two are close. But in the current state of basketball someone like Jordan Farmar, UCLA's incoming point guard, could go pro early. That, combined with the fact that the 2006 recruiting class in the west is particularly weak at point guard, makes it conceivable that UCLA could want to take Johnson.


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