It's always an iffy proposition to try to anticipate how many scholarships the basketball program will have for a recruiting class a couple of years away.
Right now, if nothing changes, UCLA will have just one scholarship to give to the class of 2007.
UCLA has already begun scouting the prospects for the class of 2007 (which are currently sophomores in high school), but really can't seriously recruit 2007 prospects until January of 2006. The first chance to sign prospects from the class of 2007 will be in November of 2006, so there is still quite a bit of time between now and then, and potentially much could happen. There are always players who leave a program for whatever reason, transferring, going pro, etc. It would be unprecedented if the scholarship numbers stayed completely as they are now.
So, we're going to approach this early look at the class of 2007 from the standpoint that UCLA will have more than one scholarship to give.
Because if we didn't look past that, the story would begin and end with Taylor King, the 6-7 forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, who is already verbally committed to UCLA and has his name on that one projected available scholarship for 2007.
But that wouldn't be any fun, so here's an early look at some of the players UCLA is at least scouting for the class of 2007, or will be interested in.
IF UCLA did have a couple more scholarships open up for 2007, they wouldn't have to look much further than the west coast, with the 2007 class looking early on like a talented one.
CLEARLY ELITE FOR 2007
Taylor King, 6-6 PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. King is getting thicker physically and looks like he'll be a natural four man. He already has a great low-post feel, able to post up with either hand and, of course, has that feathery outside jumper, and great passing ability. Hopefully he'll gain about another inch and put on muscle. If he's 6-7 and a well-built 230ish as a freshman, he has a chance to be a major force. Early reports are that he's been playing extremely well this fall in the pre-season.
Kevin Love, 6-8 C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. As a freshman, Love was probably the best low-post prospect in the west, regardless of class. His skills are better than most of the post players in the Pac-10 right now; in fact, he probably would be starting for UCLA this year. Not only very sophisticated in his low post moves, but he loves to bang, is aggressive and has a mean streak. The son of former Duck and NBAer, Stan Love, he's a top ten national player FOR 2007. If he continues to get bigger physically, he'll have the chance to go to the NBA out of high school. Head Coach Ben Howland and his assistant coaches have been on Love from early on. Oregon would have to be the early favorite, and he'll get bombarded by the country's elite programs.
Jerryd Bayless, 6-1 CG, Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. Bayless is the early best guard in this class in the west. He's explosive, quick, can really handle it, sees the court and can break down defenses. His shot just good, and continues to improve. he projects as a point guard, but could play either position. Of course, Arizona has to be on him, but they did already take a commitment from a junior point guard from Texas, Nic Wise. Bayless, though, in our opinion, is a better player, which could present a dilemma for Arizona. Bayless is a top 25 national player and will have all of the nation after him. He's also a very good student.
Kyle Singler, 6-6 SF, Medford (Ore.) South Medford. Advanced skills and knowledge of the game, Singler is a talented young player, with a good stroke and passing ability, all in a very good body for a sophomore. He'll get looks nationally, probably projecting as a top 50 national prospect in the class.
Omondi Amoke, 6-5 SF, Oxnard (Calif.) High. Amoke has a very advanced skill set. He sees the court very well, is a terrific passer and ball-handler, and he can step out to the stripe with a good-looking stroke. He has good size and strength, looks like a man among boys, with an excellent feel for the game. He has a chance to be among the top prospects in his class. Unknown outside of the west right now, he'll more than likely emerge as a top national player.
GUYS WITH A VERY GOOD CHANCE
Tyrone Shelley, 6-5, El Cajon (Calif.) Christian. Shelley is perhaps one of the best prospects in the west for 2007, with a great basketball body, athletic and long, with good lateral quickness for his length. His skills are coming along, and he has a great natural scoring instinct. A potential top 50 national player.
Alex Jacobsen, 6-11 C, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. He ransferred from St. John Bosco, and is actually the correct age for his grade, which is unusual these days. He's got a great body, that could obviously hold more weight, and has a very good basic grasp of the game, with a nice stroke. He's still growing into his body and his quickness and agility improve just about every time we see him.
Clint Amberry, 6-8 PF/C, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View. He could very well be listed on the Early Elites list. He's a big kid, with a good body and frame, and his skills really took a major step forward last season as a freshman. He also got control of his body much better in the last year. UCLA is trying to line up youngsters, and Amberry is one on the list. He attended UCLA's camp in June.
Jamelle Horne, 6-6 SF, Spring Valley (Calif.) Mount Miguel. Came on the scene last summer, showing off a great body and good athleticism with some pretty advanced skills for his age. Potentially an elite high major.
Zane Johnson, 6-6 SF, Phoenix (Ariz.) Thunderbird. Johnson has a very well-rounded game for a sophomore, with a good stroke, ball-handling and passing. He's just an average athlete, but has a good natural feel for rebounder. He's more than likely a high major and someone to watch.
Isaiah Jenkins, 6-2 PG/SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. He has good size, a strong body and is a good athlete while he handles the ball well. He's very assertive for a youngster. He attended UCLA's June Camp.
Quinton Watkins, 6-2 SG, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez. Watkins is one of the best athletes in the west, with great explosiveness and a great body. He has an okay stroke at this point, but also has the potential to be a great defender. He was ineligible for a portion of his freshman season at Bellflower St. John Bosco, which isn't a great sign.
Chase Stanback, 6-5 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback is one of the best-looking young prospects in Los Angeles. He is long, wide-shoulder, with a body that could hold more weight, athletic, and has one of the prettiest outside jumpers in the city. Reportedly a good student, too.
Venoy Overton, 5-8 PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Overton is probably the second best freshman point guard prospect in the west. He's still pretty small, but has a good frame, with long arms, and looks like he'll still grow considerably. He can really shoot, has great vision, good quickness and great poise for his age. He'll have to get bigger, but is, of course, still pretty young.
Daniel Hackett, 6-4 SG, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Probably rivals Taylor King as the best outside shooter in the class. The lefty can really stroke it. He also has a very good feel for the game, and is an excellent passer, playing point guard for most of his life. His athleticism is limited, which could keep him from the elite high-major level.
Kamyron Brown, 6-0, PG, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Very good quickness, good length for his size. average shot at this point, but is a true point guard with a good feel. Right now you probably wouldn't project him as UCLA's level, but he has a chance.
Pierce Brooks, 6-6 CF, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Brooks is stuck in the middle of being a small forward and a power forward, and the way his body goes will decide it. He has good skills, but is a bit slow-footed. If he grows a couple of inches, and he very well might, having size 16 shoes, he has the makings of a nice frontcourt player. But he hasn't grown much in the last year or so, so he'll probably settle in to being a small forward. Also a good kid, and close to Jordan Farmar.
Tim Shelton, 6-5 SF, Bakersfield (Calif.) High. Shelton had a very effective freshman season. He has a body that projects possibly more as a baseline player, which could hurt him if he doesn't grow. His older brother, senior, Titus Shelton, who committed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is 6-6 and thick. Tim has better perimeter skills at this point, though, and he's someone to just keep an eye on.
Jesse Woodard, 6-0 PG, Compton (Calif.) Centennial. Woodard is getting a great deal of hype, which isn't necessarily a good thing for him, giving him so much to live up to over the next few years. Woodard is a pretty good player, with a good natural feel and passing ability. However, he looks very physically mature for his class (being a year older), and has just average quickness. The question is how much upside there is, but he's someone to watch.
JayDee Luster, 5-7 PG, San Diego (Calif.) Hoover, is a naturally flashy player, who is great on the break, is a good passer, and can hit his outside set shot. He is, though, very small (5-7 being generous), and would have to grow considerably to be considered an elite high major.
Dane Settles, 6-3 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, is a fluid, long, good athlete. He lacks explosiveness just yet, but has superior skills and composure, and with an average projected amount of development will probably be a high major. Attended UCLA's June Camp, and made an appearance at a UCLA exhibition game.
Wendell McKines, 6-5 SF/PF, Richmond (Calif.) High, is a man among boys. He's physically developed so he might not grow much more, but right now he's getting it done inside, dominating weaker opponents.
Austin Daye, 6-4 SG, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge, looks like the best example of a kid who will grow, being very skinny and looking like a baby. He's already grown a couple of inches in the last year while he still looks young. As of right now, he can really shoot it, so he makes the list. It also helps that he's Darren Daye's son.