UCLA Hoops Recruiting

Here's a look at the basketball recruiting picture for this year -- what's happening with spring recruiting, scholarships and more, and a look at what's shaping up for next year's class...

Spring Recruiting Outlook:

It's looking more likely that Evan Burns, 6-7 SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, who has verbally committed to UCLA but hasn't qualified academically or signed a NLI, will not put his name into the NBA draft. At least a half dozen NBA scouts attended a Fairfax game against Westchester Tuesday, and the consensus among the scouts was that Burns would be well-served by attending college. So, Burns doesn't play well Tuesday and UCLA benefits. Such a deal.

What needs to happen now for Burns to come to UCLA is for him to qualify academically. We are more and more encouraged that Burns' chances to do that are getting better. He has taken the SAT previously, barely missed qualifying, and is now beginning to study with a good tutor. He's also working hard in the classroom, specifically to replace a number of core classes. As we've maintained previously, if Burns achieves a qualifying test score you can be pretty assured that he will sign an NLI in April and attend UCLA next fall. If he doesn't qualify for some reason, sources believe Burns would probably go to San Diego State as a Prop 48 and sit out a year. But, as of now, it's looking good that a top ten national talent is going to be a Bruin.

Erazem Lorbek, 6-9 225 SR PF (Slovenia), will be visiting UCLA in February, along with Kentucky and Louisville (he might also visit North Carolina, but that isn't clear at this time). Our sources indicate that UCLA is most likely the leader for Lorbek. He will need, though,to qualify academically, which is always an iffy proposition for foreign players, and decide to not opt to play professionally in Europe. Unfortunately, there is simply no way for us (or anyone else) to predict whether both events will occur. Because of the different school years, Lorbek will not graduate from high school until June 30, so UCLA won't even have his final transcripts until Mid-July at the earliest. However, the UCLA coaches have gotten clearance from UCLA Admissions to sign Lorbek to a NLI in April if he scores over 1,000 on the SAT. Lorbek has taken the SAT and reportedly is awaiting results, which might be available to the UCLA staff as early as next week. We will do our best to pry some information loose from some other sources, but we can't make any promises, so please don't inundate us with Lorbek/SAT questions.

As of right now, these two – Burns and Lorbek – are the only two players UCLA is recruiting with the intention of signing in spring. That's not to say that another recruit could emerge by April, but as of right now, that's it.

With Mike Fey qualifying, though, it makes UCLA recruiting situation far less hazy. Fey will enroll in either spring, summer or possibly wait until next fall, and be a true freshman next fall regardless. His scholarship will then go against the count for the incoming class of 2002, with Matt McKinney, and potentially Burns and Lorbek.

Next Year's Early Recruiting Picture

That leads us to the next recruiting class, the current high school junior class which would enroll at UCLA in 2003.

So here are the way the scholarships break down in regards to that recruiting class. In 2003, the roster looks like this:

Seniors: T.J. Cummings, Jon Crispin

Juniors: Cedric Bozeman, Andre Patterson, Dijon Thompson, Ryan Walcott, Josiah Johnson

Sophomores: Matt McKinney, Mike Fey, Marcedes Lewis*,[Evan Burns], [Erazem Lorbek]

Lewis will be on a football scholarship. That is a total of eleven players potentially on a basketball scholarship for the 2003/2004 year. That is, of course, depending on whether Burns or Lorbek do indeed come to UCLA next year.

For now, let's figure the recruiting picture assuming that both Burns and Lorbek do come to UCLA. So that would leave UCLA only two scholarships to give to the current high school junior class. Of course, scholarships are ever-fluctuating, and that's also not taking into consideration the possibilities of early entries to the NBA draft or possible transfers.

UCLA's most pressing need would still be backcourt quickness, and guards will be a big recruiting priority. If UCLA misses on Lorbek, a frontcourt player would be earmarked for that third scholarship. If for whatever reason UCLA has even more rides to give than 2 or 3, they'll probably try to get the best available talent after the top priorities of a couple of guards and, if they don't get Lorbek, a post player.

The very early list for high school juniors can be broken down into prospects UCLA is doing very well with and has a good chance of getting; prospects UCLA is recruiting on the west coast or probably will be by spring/summer, and other prospects UCLA is looking at nationally.

Of course, this is a very early list. Some of these  prospects UCLA won't end up recruiting and others will be added to the list through spring and summer.

Prospects UCLA has a Good Chance to Get

These are not only prospects that UCLA has a good chance to get but more than likely they are good enough that UCLA would offer them early, or already has.

Marcus Williams, 6-2 CG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. Highly talented guard who has more of a mentality of a scoring guard, Williams, though, is trying to play more like a point guard this year. Helping him out is a great passing ability and vision. Hurting him is the lack of great decision-making. He's also an excellent outside shooter, able to shoot from 25' feet. He isn't lightning quick, but fairly quick, with a good handle and great one-on-one moves that enable him to break down just about any defender. He isn't explosively athletic, and could get quite a bit stronger. He has the capability of being a top 50 national player. Rumors have been circulating for a while that he's a secret UCLA verbal. It's pretty safe to say that he likes UCLA quite a bit and he's one of UCLA's top targets and priorities.

Khalif Ford, 6-0 PG, Diamond Bar (Calif.) High. One of the best pure point guards in the class on the west coast, Ford is a nice, all-around prospect. He has a good body and an advanced feel for the game and advanced skills. A good shooter, a very good passer who also has a mid-range game and plays good defense. He isn't lightning quick either, but is a solid point guard type. There is talk that he's leaning to UCLA. A top 75 national player potentially.

Sean Phaler, 6-8, Villa Park (Calif.) High. One of the best scorers on the west coast in the junior class, Phaler is a Keith Van Horn-type. That doesn't mean he's the second coming of Keith Van Horn, but that his body and style of play are similar. Tall, very skinny (he weighed 160 pounds at the Nike Camp last year), he isn't a banger, but likes to face the basket, with an excellent shooting touch. He does have some nice finesse moves around the basket. He made a big name for himself last summer when he went off for 45 points against an international all-star team that had some big-named recruits on its roster. He has said UCLA is probably his leader in the past, while Stanford will be working hard on him. A top 50 national player potentially.

Ayinde Ubaka, 6-1 PG, Oakland (Calif.) High. The best point guard on the west coast, Ubaka is the guy who is lightning quick, and with his good size and body, makes him the guard prospect with the most potential in the class. He creates well for his teammates and is a very precise passer. His drawback previously was his shooting ability, but so far this year Ubaka has shown a drastic improvement in his stroke, being able to light it up from the perimeter. Perhaps now the only question is whether he'll qualify academically. It's been known that his academics weren't great, but his AAU coach and others close to him insist he'll qualify. He's a long-time UCLA fan, and said UCLA was his favorite since he came on the scene last summer. Cal, though, will make a big push for him, and it could be compelling to play at Berkeley if a couple of his AAU teammates go there, which could be likely. You'd expect, too, that more big-named national programs will get involved, if they haven't already. A top 50 national player potentially.

Omar Wilkes, 6-2 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola. One of the most advanced feels for the game of anyone in high school on the west coast in years, it's obvious that Wilkes is the son of a former NBA (and UCLA) great. He does everything well, and for how slightly he's built, very surprising for how explosive he is off the floor. He's a great passer, a good and ever-improving shooter, and is so good at the little things, like entry passes to the post, mid-range pull-ups, etc., that he makes his team so much better. Some inside information indicated that Stanford or Arizona could be leading for him, but Omar has also indicated in the past that, growing up a Bruin fan, UCLA will be among his top choices. We'll probably hear conflicting things about Omar and his favorite schools throughout next fall. Potentially a top 75 national player.

Wendell White, 6-4 SF/SG, Redondo Beach (Calif.) Redondo Union. A man among boys on the college level, White is a well built wing that is very athletic combined with some nice skills and a great feel for the game. He's a great slasher with a nice outside touch, and gets his points in a variety of ways. He's one of the best in his class on the break, a great finisher, and tough around the basket, too. UCLA is his favorite school, it's just a matter of him qualifying academically. Top 50 national caliber player.

Big-Named Guys on the West Coast UCLA Will Take a Shot With

Leon Powe, 6-7 Oakland (Calif.) Tech. The best player in his class in the west, he's an athletic, long-armed beast. He has the top programs in the country after him, and UCLA has made an early big list. Hometown Cal might have an edge, and it'd be a program maker for them. Top Ten nationally.

Ekene Ibekwe, 6-9 PF, Carson (Calif.) High. One of the best big men on the west coast, UCLA has been trying hard with Ibekwe early on, going to his school and practices. Ibekwe, though, likes childhood favorite North Carolina and his father's school, USC. UCLA, though, is on his list, and will make a push for him. Top 50 national potential.

Lodrick Stewart, 6-3 SG, Rodrick Stewart, 6-3 SG, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. Another set of athletic twin guards on the west coast, the Stewarts are pretty similar to the Craven twins. Lodrick is the better of the two, and he'll get recruited nationally, as will probably his brother. The two want to go to school together, which could hurt UCLA (like it did with the Cravens) since the Bruins will probably have limited scholarships to give. UCLA is on their early list. Top 50 national potential.

Thomas Gardner, 6-2 SG, Portland (Ore.) Jefferson. Gardner has never mentioned UCLA early on, but he's really the perfect fit for their needs: athletic, quick, a shooter and big-time scorer. Under-rated nationally, but top 50 national potential.

David Padgett, 6-10 Reno (Nev.) High. Hailed as the best post player in the class since he was a freshman, Padgett has UCLA on his list. His father has ties to Lute Olson and to Mike Montgomery and it's thought that those two schools are the leaders, particularly Stanford. Top 40 nationally.

Big-Named National Guys UCLA Will Take a Shot With

Ndusi Ebi, 6-7 PF, Houston (Tex.) Westbury Christian. An athletic baseline forward that is tough and plays hard, Ebi physically overwhelms his opponents. He's a top ten national player more than likely, and he's said that UCLA is among his leaders.

Charlie Villanueva, 6-9 PF, Blairstown (New Jersey) Blair Academy. A long-armed athlete that gets it done around the basket because of his athleticism, Villanueva has listed UCLA in the past.

Kris Humphries, 6-7 PF, Hopkins (Minn.) High. He looks more like a small forward, and has some perimeter skills, but he's athletic and tough and plays well down low. Humphries has contacted a number of schools, including UCLA, expressing interest. It's going to be tough, though, getting him away from the likes that are recruiting him – Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas and hometown Minnesota. Top 25 nationally.

Kendrick Perkins, 6-10 C, Beaumont (Tex.) Ozen. Probably the second best player in the class behind Lebron James, Perkins looks like an NBA player and, funny, it's thought that he'll bypass college and go right to the NBA. He's mentioned UCLA among many, but it's only college lip service.

Will Sheridan, 6-8 PF, Hockessin (Del.) Sanford. A top 40 national player in his class with good skills and a great feel, Sheridan is on UCLA's list of national guys they want.

Luol Deng, 6-6 SF, Blairstown (New Jersey) Blair Academy. An athlete who can score, Deng is the target of many big-named programs, including UCLA. Top 40.

Olu Famutimi, 6-5 SF, Flint (Mich.) Northwestern. Famutimi gets it done in many ways, posting up, shooting and slashing. He's a prime recruiting target of Michigan and Michigan State, but has UCLA on his list of schools he's also interested in. Top 40.

Michael Bush, 6-3 SG, Louisville (Kent.) Male. Talented shooting guard with a nice stroke and nice athleticism. Bush has expressed interest in UCLA. Top 75 nationally.

West Coast Guys UCLA Will Consider

Justin Hawkins, 6-6 SF, Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair. A prospect that had many college coaches coming to Mayfair this fall to check out, Hawkins combines good size with a nice shooting touch. He possibly lacks the explosive athleticism that would make his favorite, Arizona, move on him. UCLA went out to see him this fall, but if UCLA gets Burns, it would be a hard sell with Burns and Thompson on the roster. Top 100 potential.

Sean Marshall, 6-4 SF/SG, Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower. Somewhat of a sleeper outside of the west coast, Marshall is a player – a good shooter, slasher, and athlete. He's probably quick enough to guard a smaller guard, which makes him versatile and valuable. He bears a striking resemblance to Matt Barnes – just a smaller version. Top 100 national potential.

Antonio Porch, 6-6 SF, Denver (Col.) Denver East. A player who could really emerge as one of the elite on the west coast, he's long and athletic, and developing good skills.

Rayshawn Reed, 5-1l PG, Inglewood (Calif.) High. He's been on UCLA's list for this class for a while. He's athletic and quick, but his game can be very erratic. So much so that it's doubtful that UCLA would really move on him.

Wesley Washington, 6-2 SG, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. A kid who's had potential in the past, he's having a stellar junior season for Mater Dei. He's always been athletic, but now his jumpshot has improved. He's close with former Mater Dei player, Cedric Bozeman, and has been to many UCLA football and basketball games.

D.J. Strawberry, 6-3 SG, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. The son of baseball player Darryl Strawberry, D.J. is emerging as a potential elite player in the west. He has nice skills, a nice shot, and good athleticism.

Harrison Schaen, 6-8 PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Hyped as the next big thing since he was a freshman, Schaen hasn't lived up to his potential as of yet. A good student and a good kid, Stanford is on him.

Mohammed Abukar, 6-9 C, San Diego (Calif.) Rancho Bernardo. A player to watch, Abukar has great size, and the potential to get much bigger. Right now, he's still learning how to control his body. But he's promising because it's obvious it's very early in his development and he has some good skills to start with – a nice natural touch and a good feel on the baseline.


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