For UCLA basketball recruiting, it's a whole new world.
It's remarkable what just a few commitments can do.
With UCLA getting five commitments from the class of 2005, it changes the entire outlook of UCLA recruiting.
First and foremost, UCLA needed frontcourt players - a lot of them. And it got two good ones in the class of 2005. It needed a small forward, and it got one of those. It was vital it got a point guard, in case of the very real possibility that Jordan Farmar goes pro, and it got one of those. Then, since it was losing a great deal of talent at the wing positions by graduation (particularly before Cedric Bozeman's injury) it got insurance in a commitment from a very good shooting wing.
What this does is shift UCLA's mindset in recruiting from one of a little bit of desperation to now a place of relative security.
Recruiting the class of 2006 will be entirely different than recruiting the class of 2005. With UCLA needing so many bodies and the class of 2005 being very thin, particularly in the west coast, UCLA found itself desperate. It had literally six scholarship spots open, and probably 6 or 7 serious prospects. And among those, not one that UCLA was clearly leading for consistently. It's a whole new ballgame with the class of 2006. UCLA needs to fill three scholarships, probably has 15-20 serious prospects as of now (which is very early, more will be added), and there are probably up to 6-8 recruits that UCLA looks to be leading for.
With those five commitments from 2005, UCLA can be selective in what it wants in 2006. It will pursue two more bigs, preferable one that's a skilled four who can also play some three, and a true center. With the third scholarship, it very well could take the best prospect who wants to come, whether that's a point guard, shooting guard or small forward.
So, here's a look at some of the potential recruiting prospects UCLA will be targeting in the class of 2006.
For more background and analysis, the companion piece to this one can be found at Recruiting Analysis.
2006 POWER FORWARDS
James Keefe, 6-8, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. Keefe is a top 25 national prospect in the class of 2006. He has great potential, with a great body and agility, and a very good developing skill set. He shoots it well, and has continued to extend his range, getting more consistent from three, and he's very good around the basket. He's a relentless player, one who crashes the boards and plays defense, with a great motor. He is probably UCLA's #1 target in the class of 2006, and the Bruins are thought to be clearly leading for him. He has said he's already narrowed it down to UCLA, Duke, Arizona, Stanford and Notre Dame. He visited Arizona for Midnight Madness. The word is that he'll want good academics and not have to go too far, which rules out everyone but UCLA and Stanford, and he might not quite have the academics for Stanford. The word recently is that Keefe could commit soon - by the end of his junior basketball season.
Daniel Deane, 6-7, Salt Lake City (Utah) Judge Memorial. Deane is the typical type of player Ben Howland likes - a big-bodied banger with a tough mentality in the paint. Deane loves to beat up the opposition, using his very wide frame well. Offensively he has a decent shot out to about 15 feet but is somewhat limited athletically so his low-post game is still developing. He has the tendency to play smaller offensively than he should in the block. But he's a very good prospect, one that UCLA has already offered. Stanford, Arizona and Utah are the early competition, but that could expand as more national programs see him. Howland knows his father, Greg Deane, from when Howland played at Weber State and Greg Deane played at Utah. Deane attended UCLA's camp in June and really impressed the coaches, which led to a UCLA offer. Now, UCLA would prefer to get a true center but if they could get Keefe and Deane they'd be popping corks.
Robin Lopez, 6-11, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. A very talented half of a twin combo, Robin is more of the perimeter player of the two. We've included him here since we're trying to include all known possibilities for UCLA in the class of 2006 at this time, but it's about as close to a lock in recruiting as you can get that the Lopez twins will go to Stanford. It's their mother's alma mater, and she's been planning it for their entire lifetimes. In fact, she had them take a course in writing composition specifically intended to improve their chances at the essays required on the Stanford application.
Andreas Schreiber, 6-8, Los Angeles (Calif.) Brentwood. An import from Sweden, Schreiber is intriguing. He has a good body, with a wide frame. He probably weighs about 200 pounds right now but looks like he could easily fill out. As with most Europeans, he's very skilled, with a nice outside jumper and good moves around the basket. He's also very long, using his length effectively. The question is his aggressiveness and physical toughness, still being a little too European at this point. If he can adopt the American physical style of play, and turn up his game a notch, he has the chance to be an elite high major prospect. UCLA, also, has a good connection. He came to the States, to Los Angeles, because his high school coach in Sweden is a long-time friend of Howland. He goes to same high school as Howland's son, and the two are very good friends. There are probably only a couple of scenarios where Schreiber wouldn't come to UCLA - if he gets other high-major offers and UCLA doesn't have a scholarship for him, or if Stanford offers him. Stanford is a school Schreiber greatly admires. If UCLA doesn't have a scholarship for him there's a legitimate chance Schreiber could walk on at UCLA.
Richard Semrau, 6-9, Rocky River (Ohio) Lutheran West. Semrau is very talented, a potential top 25 national recruit and future NBAer. He's got three leaders - Kentucky, North Carolina and Wake Forest. He's included in this list because UCLA had been recruiting him early and he had listed the Bruins.
Ray Hall, 6-10, Denver (Col.) Mullen. Hall is not well known nationally, but will be. He, first, doesn't look like a typical player, with a huge body, weighing probably 275 pounds. He isn't overly athletic and has a bit of a goofy demeanor. But as soon as he catches the ball in the post, you know why he's considered among the best frontcourt players in the west and a top 50 player nationally by some. He is very skilled, with a great shooting touch, a developed back-to-the-basket game, great hands and a great natural feel in the post. After UCLA watched him a couple of times last summer, a scholarship offer was extended. Among the current possibilities at center for UCLA, Hall would be right at the top or close to the top of the wish list. Watch for UCLA to go after him hard. Kansas, Oregon, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech and California have all made contact so far.
Alex Stepheson, 6-8, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake. A great-looking prospect, Stepheson is about 220 pounds, and has gotten quite a bit bigger physically in the last year. He's strong in his upper body, but still needs to get strength and thickness in his lower body. He's very athletic, with quick springs off the floor and good agility, and has a good skill set. He has the tendency to play a bit small, when he could play above the rim, and needs to turn up the aggressiveness switch. He's considered a top 50-ish national prospect at this point, but could vastly improve that ranking this season and next summer if he gets aggressive. He's a great kid, the kind of good-character kid any program would want. He came to UCLA's June camp, and the Bruins have offered. He has a big list of schools, that includes some big names, but UCLA is thought to be at least near the top of that list.
Spencer Hawes, 6-10, Seattle (Wash.) Prep. Probably the best package among centers in the west, Hawes is long, quick and talented. Many scouts feel he's clearly an NBA prospect, and might not be long for college. He's among the top five center prospects in the country. UCLA offered Hawes early, but so did other schools. Washington is the clear-cut favorite, with his father having gone there and now some of his AAU teammates, including his best friend Jon Brockman, going to UDub.
Brook Lopez, 6-11, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. Brook is the more physical of the two twins, even though he shoots the ball from the outside just as well as Robin, if not better. Again, as stated above, they are as close to a near lock to go to Stanford as there ever is a lock in recruiting. The issue for Stanford is the possibility of the Lopezes, or at least Brook, putting his name in the NBA draft in the spring of 2006. As of right now, you'd say they weren't ready, but their development has progressed so quickly, it's feasible to project them as possibly making the jump in two years, given who has done it in recent years. So, if you're Stanford, you're in a little quandary: You take the Lopezes, but if they go pro, you're screwed, having given up two spots that could have gone elsewhere. The good money is that the Lopezes go to Stanford, and hold off on the NBA, at least for a year or two.
Taylor Harrison, 6-8, San Clemente (Calif.) High. One of our favorite players in the west, Harrison is a true banger. He sometimes looks like a pinball in the paint, bouncing off everyone who comes within a couple of feet of him. He puts his body on everybody, gets tangled up in their arms and basically physically annoys everyone he guards. He's also got a developing offensive game, with a pretty nice jumper and some offense around the basket. He's an average athlete, which holds him back a bit, but he could continue to improve, with his body looking like it's still filling out. He did have an eye-opening play at UCLA's camp in June when he went up and blocked a breakaway dunk by very athletic wing Alex Tyus, far above the rim. He's been to many UCLA games, and many Pac-10 schools and others are getting to know Harrison. If UCLA offered, most think it'd be a done deal.
Brian Zoubek, 7-1, Haddonfield (NJ) Haddonfield Memorial. Considered one of the best centers in the country and a top 25 national prospect, Zoubek is huge, but amazingly agile. He has the likes of Duke and Wake Forest on his short list, and will be a prime target for Stanford, since he's a very good student. UCLA has been trying and will continue to, but could recognize that it's a longshot.
Derek Oestreicher, 6-10, Redding (Calif.) Liberty Christian. A player to watch, Oestreicher is projected right now as a mid-major, but he could go beyond that before he gets out of high school. Oestreicher has grown probably two inches in the last two years, and looks like a baby physically, which is a good sign, the theory being that he still has plenty of upside physically. He's also young for his class. He's limited athletically, but again, his athleticism has continued to improve. He came to UCLA's June Camp and has obvious interest in UCLA.
Terron Sutton, 6-8, Los Angeles (Calif.) Price. Sutton has a high-major body, probably weighing 225 already, with good athleticism. He just is hot and cold too much, sometimes playing well for stretches, while at other times disappearing for longer stretches. He could easily dominate games but doesn't, just yet anyway. He's considered a mid-major at this point, but with the body and agility, if the light turned on, he could have a chance for higher.
Craig Brackins, 6-9, Lancaster (Calif.) High. A complete sleeper, not too many coaching staffs - or scouts for that matter - know about Brackins. He plays out in the desert at Lancaster and was hurt last summer, so didn't play on an AAU team. He is very long, with a very good body, and athletic. He also has some skills, able to shoot out to 17, even though his shot is a bit funky. He started out as a wing, so last season he was still understanding how to play aggressively and physically in the post, but if he ends up getting it, Brackins could be a high major.
Matt Shaw, 6-7, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Shaw is one of the more skilled big men in the Southland and is very effective at the high school level in the post. He is physically a bit ploddy, being a bit too thick and unathletic to project as a high major. But if his body and athleticism improved, he could move from mid-major to high major.
Chase Budinger, 6-6, Encinitas (Calif.) La Costa Canyon. A great combination of athlete and skills, Budinger is the best small forward in the west for 2006 right now and is probably a top 40 national recruit. He can shoot, dribble, pass, and likes to mix it up inside. He's considered one of the best volleyball recruits in the country, so he has the hops. In fact, he spent last summer playing volleyball rather than AAU basketball, which raised some eyebrows of college basketball coaches. UCLA has offered, and he's been to a couple of games, and football games. Arizona and other national programs will be involved.
Blake Wallace, 6-7, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. A definite player to watch, Wallace would be the guy that we'd pick to blow up next summer nationally. He has great size and length, is athletic, and combines that all with a great skill set. He can shoot, pass and dribble like a guard. His body is still pretty thin, and his lack of strength keeps him back a bit. He's been to UCLA's campus and UCLA games. If UCLA offered, they'd be the team to beat.
Alex Tyus, 6-6, Florissant (Missouri) Hazelwood Central. Tyus is a big-time athlete, with a great body. His skills are still developing, and his shot has improved. He has had some great tournaments when national scouts have put him among the top 30 in the country, then had others where he didn't play well. He looked awfully good at the Nike Camp last summer. He came all the way west for UCLA's June Camp, and the coaches were obviously impressed with him. He recently said UCLA is his favorite, and it looks like the only road block would be academics. If his grades are iffy, UCLA could back off and others will step in.
Phil Nelson, 6-7, Keizer (Ore.) McNary. Probably the most skilled three in the west coast class of 2006, Nelson has it all - a great shooting touch, handle and athleticism. He'll have all of the high majors from the Northwest on him, and probably some nationally. Academics could be an issue.
Kevin Galloway, 6-5, Sacramento (Calif.) High. Galloway has a great body, with good length. He is one of the best slasher types in the west. Somewhat unknown, he'll more than likely get high major looks by next summer. He's on UCLA's list of to-watch guys in 2006.
Others to Watch:
Joe Harden, 6-5, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's. Great feel for game and good skills.
Josh Guillory, 6-5, Lynwood (Calif.) High. One of most naturally talented players in Southland, but lacks focus and academics.
Seth Tarver, 6-4, Portland (Ore.) Jesuit. The younger brother of Shon Tarver, he has a great body, but lacks skills and feel. Probably not UCLA's level.
Quincy Pondexter, 6-5, Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial. Very athletic wing, still raw in his skills, but with great upside. Getting looks from high majors. He'd be a lock for Arizona if they offered since his father played for Lute Olson.
Jervaughn Johnson, 6-6, Compton (Calif.) Centennial. A big body, who looks more like a defensive end than a wing, Johnson hasn't delivered on the promise he showed two years ago.
Cedric Latimer, 6-5, Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward. One of the best athletes in SoCal, if the skills come along he would definitely be a high major.
Charles Anderson, 6-4, Bakersfield (Calif.) High. A very good athlete with limited skills as this point, but high-major athleticism makes him someone of note.
Jon Scheyer, 6-4, Northbrook (Ill.) Glenbrook North. Could be the best shooting guard nationally in the class of 2006. He has all the big names after him early, and UCLA has popped up on his list now and then. A longshot.
Derrick Jasper, 6-4, Paso Robles (Calif.) High. Right now the #1-rated shooting guard in the west for 2006 and a top-75 type of national prospect, Jasper has very good skills, and can play some point. He'll get recruited by high majors across the country. Reports are that he's a good student, which could get UCLA on him heavily.
Tre'Von Willis, 6-2, Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union. One of the best scorers in the west, he can go off for 40 in a flash, being able to light it up from outside, but also take it to the hoop with craftiness. The lack of real explosiveness off the floor keeps him from being a top 40 national guy, but is still a top 100-type player. You need guys like this that can flat-out score. UCLA has shown early interest.
Jeremiah Rivers, 6-3, Winter Park (Flor.) High. The son of former NBA player Doc Rivers, Jeremiah is a skilled combo guard who can score or run the point. He isn't particularly quick, but smart and has surprising hops. UCLA is among his early three leaders. He's a top 50 national prospect.
Marques Johnson, 6-4, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider. Johnson is another combo guard, with very good passing ability. He is a top 75 national prospect, getting recruited by high majors in the midwest and across the nation. He's mentioned UCLA a few times.
Patrick Christopher, 6-4, Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. Christopher has a good body, and has a good shot with a nice release. He is a good - not great - athlete, but should be among best in west. He visited UCLA's practice this fall. If he continues to develop, and UCLA then offers, the Bruins would be the clear leader.
Christian Polk, 6-3, Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley. Polk showed great promise as a freshman in AAU ball, but since hasn't developed his feel for the game. His skills have improved but his court awareness hasn't. He jacks up the ball too much at this point. With his body and talent, there is a chance that he'll turn it around, though.
Larry Wright, 6-2, Saginaw (Mich.) High. A smooth scorer who's fairly unknown, UCLA has contacted him.
Andre Martin, 6-2, San Diego (Calif.) Mt. Miguel. Probably the quickest wing in the west, he's a great defender and very hard to stay with offensively. He's the type that could go either way -- not develop any further and stay probably a mid-major, or you could see his skills improve and become a high-major recruit.
Matt Bouldin, 6-4, Highlands Ranch (Col.) Thunderridge. Great stroke, but an average athlete, with a great understanding of the game. Will have to take it up a notch to get recruited at UCLA's level. Probably lower end of the low majors.
Curtis Eatmon, 6-2, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos. Right now, you might have to rank Eatmon the best point guard prospect in the west, because of his size. He has good quickness, a great feel for the game and good skills. He's talented enough to easily play the two and could be the type of versatile guard that UCLA might want in the class of 2006.
Marcus Lawrence, 5-10, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Very quick, skilled and tough, Lawrence is only limited by his size. He actually, though, has a decent frame for being 5-10. With a lack of elite point guards in the west for 2006, he'll get recruited at the high major level. UCLA has been showing him interest and it's mutual. He came to UCLA's camp in June.
D.J. Augustin, 6-1, New Orleans (Louisiana) Brother Martin. The #1 point guard in the national class of 2006, he's got a great body, is athletic, can score, pass and create for others. The biggest names in college basketball are on him, and you'd also have to think that LSU will be tough to beat. But UCLA has made some early lists for him.