With the future of UCLA basketball looking pretty bright, recruiting is definitely something to get pumped up about.
We did the story on the 2006 recruits to watch this spring and summer. So here's a look at the 2007 class.
Now, 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, and UCLA gives away all the scholarships that are available for the 2006 class, UCLA will have just one scholarship to give to the class of 2007.
There is a possibility, though, that UCLA only gives out two of the available three scholarships for the class of 2006, saving one of them for 2007.
There's also a possibility that more scholarships could open up for the class of 2007. If, say, one of the freshmen from this past season, decides to go pro early or there is a transfer.
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.
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 6-6 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, especially with us about to head into the spring and summer basketball recruiting evaluation periods. 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.
As you can see, all of these recruits are in the west, since it's too early to know what national recruits in the 2007 class will be interested in UCLA. But we should learn about at least some in the next few months.
CLEARLY ELITE FOR 2007
Taylor King, 6-6 SF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. King is coming off a phenomenal sophomore season, one in which he averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds per game. What was really encouraging was that King improved in many aspects of his game. For one, he looked a little taller, probably approaching 6-7. His body improved, losing some of the baby fat from his freshman year, which improved his quickness and leaping ability. If it was possible, his shooting range continued to expand. He continued to be aggressive inside in scoring and rebounding. Projecting him on the college level, he does lack great lateral quickness, which impacts his defense, even though that also improved this season. For college basketball fans, UCLA fans in particular, this is good, since his physical and athletic limitations will almost certainly preclude him from jumping straight to the NBA. There has been some talk that King could de-commit from UCLA and while there have been some concerns by the King family, there is still a very good chance he remains committed to UCLA and becomes a Bruin. He came in at #9 in Scout.com's recently-released top 50 rankings for 2007 nationally.
Kevin Love, 6-8 C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. Love continued to dominate as a sophomore in high school. As a 15-year-old, he is 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 have started for UCLA last season. Not only is he 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 is the #4-ranked player in the class of 2007 nationally. If he continues to get bigger physically, he'll have the chance to go to the NBA out of high school, but he hasn't grown much in the last year. 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 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 is 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 ranked the #8 player in the national class of 2007 and will have all of the nation after him. He's also a very good student. Bayless broke his wrist and missed a good portion of his sophomore season, but is expected to be back for the spring and summer AAU events.Alex Legion, 6-4 SG, Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day. Legion is currently the #19-ranked player in the 2007 nationally. He has great skills and a very good knowledge of the game, with very good athleticism. He has shown an interest in the Bruins early and UCLA is on him.
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, being ranked the #14 player in the 2007 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. Even though he's relatively unknown outside of the west right now, he'll more than likely emerge as a top national player this spring and summer. Scout.com is ahead of the curve and has him as the #29-ranked player in the nation for 2007. He attended a UCLA game this year, and has interest in the Bruins.
GUYS WITH A VERY GOOD CHANCE
Chace 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. He had a great sophomore year for Fairfax, really showing off his skill set and his improving athleticism. He could have one of the biggest upsides since his body just looks like it still has such a long ways to go. Reportedly a good student, too. A top 100 national player in 2007, at least.
Drew Viney, 6-5 SF, Villa Park (Calif.) High. A player who really emerged as a sophomore, Viney grew probably two inches in the last year, and his game has advanced along with his growth. His athleticism has drastically improved, able to now play above the rim some, while his skills are among the best for his class in the west. He has a pretty, soft outside stroke. He needs to continue to improve his ball handling, and he's a lot like Stanback in the fact that it seems like his fast-twitch muscles still haven't developed since his body is still growing. But definitely a top 100 national player and could be top 40 when it's all over.
Alex Jacobson, 6-11 C, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. Jacobson had a solid year for Mater Dei as a sophomore, and really made strides in his development. His agility and athleticism took a leap forward, now being able to throw down dunks easily and block shots. In fact, he's a very good shot blocker, with good timing. He's always had a great body, with a wide frame, and has continued to grow. This is all while actually being the correct age for his grade, which is unusual these days. He has developed a nice face-up stroke offensively, but needs to learn a back-to-the-basket game tor really take his game to the next level. If he does, he's a top 50 national player.
Isaiah Thomas, 5-8 PG, Tacoma (Wash.) Curtis. Not many have seen Thomas, but he had a whopping sophomore year in Washington, and many say he could emerge as one of the elite point guards in the west for the 2007 class.
Clint Amberry, 6-8 PF/C, Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View. Amberry is a big kid, with a good body and frame, and his skills continue to develop. He now has a very consistent face-the-basket game. UCLA is trying to line up youngsters, and Amberry is one on the list. He attended UCLA's camp last 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.
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, 6-1, 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. He especially came on late in the season for Mater Dei.
Kenton Walker, 6-7 PF, Scripps Ranch (Calif.) High. An inport from Indiana, Walker has a great natuaral feel in the post. He's a very good rebounder, with a good jump on the ball, and has a decent back-to-the-basket touch. If he continues to grow just a touch, and his athleticism improves, he's a high-major.
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.
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 rebounding. 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 Camp last June.Jamelle McMillan, -2 PG, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea. Since he's the son of former NBAer Nate McMillan, it's not a big surprise that Jamelle has an excellent feel for the game. He has very good size and frame, plays within himself, is good defender, and is pretty athletic.
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.
Venoy Overton, 5-8 PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin. Overton is one of the best point guard prospects in the west for 2007. 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.
Tim Shelton, 6-5 SF, Bakersfield (Calif.) High. 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.
Harper Kamp, 6-7 PF/C, Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View. He has a good frame and body, and is advanced in his low-post game offensively, with a great feel and physical. He is an average athlete, not bad, but not particularly explosive. That would be the question, whether he can improve enough athletically to be recruited at the high major level.
Dane Suttle, 6-3 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester. Settles 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 attended a few UCLA games.
Austin Daye, 6-4 SG, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. Darren Daye's son 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. He is so thin, though, you question whether he'll develop enough physically by the time he's even a senior in high school to get high major looks. If you consider just skills, and feel for the game, Daye, though, is one of the best in the west. While we bemoan sometimes how players move ahead a grade, if there is ever an instance where it makes rational sense, it's with Daye.
THE 2008 CLASS
UCLA could have quite a few scholarships available for the current high school freshmen class. You could bet at least three, if not four.
It's very early to label high school freshmen as UCLA prospects, but since they're about to become sophomores, we need to recognize who the standouts are so far:
Jin Soo Kim, 6-7 SF, Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. Imported from Korea, incredibly skilled, Kim would be a great fit at UCLA. He spent his freshman year at Montclair Prep, but will transfer to Artesia, which will be good for him in providing better competition. It's just really a matter of how much he develops physically -- if he fills out, since he's very thin. But the skills wouldn't have to come too far for him to be a high major prospect. He's been trained to be a basketball player so extensively there are some questions whether he'll be academically-minded enough, though. Some Korean influences around him also want him to go pro out of high school.
Brandon Jennings, 5-11 PG, Compton (Calif.) Domiguez. Quick and fairly skilled for a freshmen, he just needs to fill out some and get stronger.
Larry Drew, 5-10 PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. The son of former NBA player of the same name, he, of course, has a great natural feel and passing ability. Doesn't have the quickness of Jennings, but has just as advanced skills and feel for the game. He and Jennings look to be the point guards of the future in the L.A. area.
Martez Walker, 6-7 SF, Birmingham (AL) Central Park. Identified early on as one of the top players in the class, Walker has expressed interest in UCLA.
Demar DeRozan, 6-4 SF, Compton (Calif.) High. One of the best athletes in the class, so far.
Oscar Bellfield, 6-2 SG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. Talented, with pretty advanced skills for a freshman.
Auri Allen, 6-8 C, Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei. A big bodied kid who's getting hyped too much early. Allen, though, has a chance, with good agility.
Ben Aird, 6-8 C, Bountiful (Utah) High. One of the early best posts in the freshmen class in the west.
Nathen Garth, 6-0 PG, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian. Skilled and with a naturally great feel.
Jrue Holiday, 6-1 PG/SG, North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Jrue is a tweener in terms of his body, but man, he can play no matter what position. He really came on toward the end of his freshman season to help lead Campbell Hall to an undefeated state championship. He has a great knack for the game, and an aggressive scorer's mentality. If he continues to grow, he'll be a great wing. If he stays about the same size, hopefully he'll develop his point guard skills.
Andy Polling, 6-8 C, Portland (Ore.) Westview. Identified early on as a potentially elite post from Oregon.
Jaime Serna, 6-7 PF/C, Mission Viejo (Calif.) Capistrano Valley. Another of the best young posts in the west, Serna has a great natural instinct with his back to the basket.