With the future of UCLA basketball looking pretty bright, recruiting is definitely something to get pumped up about.
We recently did an update on the 2006 recruits to watch this summer. So here's a look at the 2007 and 2008 classes.
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. If UCLA doesn't get elite 2006 recruit, Chase Budinger, the 6-7 wing from La Costa Canyon, they very well could save that scholarship. It would make sense, since the class of 2006 doesn't necessarily have a great crop of wings while 2007 does.
There's also a possibility that more scholarships could open up for the class of 2007. If, say, someone from the freshman class from this last season, or the freshman class from the upcoming season, decides to go pro early or transfers.
UCLA has already begun scouting the prospects for the class of 2007 (which are currently concluding their sophomore year 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.
Of course, as we all know, UCLA did have a commitment for that one scholarship, until Taylor King, the 6-6 small forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, de-committed (We wouldn't really be providing a comprehensive story on 2007 recruiting unless we did mention King here). Many observers considered the King de-commitment a negative, while many others now consider it a positive -- for many reasons. Either way, it does open up that one scholarship earmarked for 2007, and there are many very talented players just in the west coast. It's not as if UCLA would be needing four or five recruits that year and lost a big one. Needing just one, it won't be particularly hard for UCLA to find someone to fill that scholarship, and it's very likely they'll fill it with someone at least as good as King, whose talents might fit UCLA's needs even better.
King continues to tell reporters that he is still considering UCLA, and that probably is the case. The issue is whether UCLA is still considering King. If UCLA doesn't get a commitment for the 2007 class as it approaches November of 2006, and King comes to UCLA and says he wants to commit again, UCLA would probably consider it. But you probably shouldn't expect UCLA to spend too much time recruiting King between now and then.
Also, ironically, King had said he would go to the UCLA campus to tell the UCLA coaching staff of his decision to de-commit. He still has yet to do that.
The de-commitment of King, at least for us here on Bruin Report Online, means that we get to discuss the class of 2007 more. So here's an early look at some of the players UCLA is at least scouting for the class of 2007, or it's a pretty safe bet will be interesteded 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
Kevin Love, 6-9 C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. Despite his well-publicized lack of athleticism, Love dominated everyone he faced this spring, including the hyped up athletes of the 2007 class, and even those in 2006. He is 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. He is athletically limited, and has some issues with his knees, but he's so darn good and has continued to grow (added an inch in the last year), and in this day and age, he could be ready to put his name in the draft by spring of 2007. Head Coach Ben Howland and his assistant coaches have been on Love from early on. It's going to be tough, though, with Love listing his early favorites as Duke, North Carolina and Arizona. And Oregon will be a player in his recruitment when it's all said and done.
Kyle Singler, 6-8 SF, Medford (Ore.) South Medford. When, ever, have the two best prospects in the class both been from Oregon? It's the case with the 2007 class, and it might never happen again. And actually Love and Singler are probably the two best prospects in the west, regardless of class. Singler is the best wing in the west, period. He's big, quick, skilled and smart. And he's getting bigger, probably having grown at least an inch in the last year. He has such advanced skills and knowledge of the game, with a good stroke and passing ability, all in an ever-improving body for a sophomore. He has shown so well this spring that he could very likely have a chance to be a first-rounder out of high school himself. If he continues to grow, forget about it. If he goes to college, he'll be able to go wherever he wants, and the big-named schools we'll be beating down his door.
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 starting to make Legion a priority. He really is the exact type of player UCLA would need for the 2007 class. If they get Budinger (or another small forward type in 2006 or 2007), their biggest priority would probably be a shooting guard, and Legion is the prototypical shooting guard. He can shoot, for one, and is a remarkable athlete, the kind of which isn't currently on the UCLA roster. The Bruins would have to beat out the local faves, Michigan State and Michigan, as well as heavyweights like Kansas and Duke.
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. This spring he has proven he's one of the best prospects in the 2007 class in the west, and potentially a top 40 national prospect. He is an excellent athlete, not only able to get off the floor, but moves very well laterally.
Anthony Randolph, 6-10 C, North Little Rock (Ark.) High. he was one of the best five overall prospects at the Pangos camp this spring, being relative unknown before. Randolph is long and very athletic, not only with great hops and an ability to get off the floor quickly, but with lateral quickness and a nice burst up the court. He was the best shot blocker in the camp, with great timing and a great second jump. Being a lefty, too, helps, since his shot blocking is coming from angles that many players aren't used to. Offensively he had some nice developing skills for a 6-10 kid, with a relatively good-looking stroke and some pretty decent ball-handling ability. Almost unknown before the Pangos, Randolph is now well-known. With national scouts being at Pangos, watch for Randolph to end up among the top 40 in the country in the 2007 class. Originally from Southern California and still having family here, there is talk that he could return to the area for high school this fall. He's definitely someone UCLA will pursue early, and the early word is that Randolph does have interest in UCLA.
Darnell Gant, 6-8 SO PF Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw. It isn't often that you see a kid go from playing on his JV team to being an elite, high major prospect in a couple of months, but that's exactly what has happened with Gant. After watching him this spring – first at the Rumble In The Bay, then at Pangos – we think Gant is the best power forward prospect in the West Coast class of 2007. He has a terrific basketball body – great length, good frame – with excellent leaping ability and quickness. He looks like he may be able to defend a three or a four down the road. He's got a nice shot to about 20 feet, he can handle it well for his size and he showed a decent post-up game. The really exciting thing about Gant is he's still unpolished. He doesn't look like he's been coached much – but he has very good instincts – and a lot of what he gets done just comes from natural ability. With continued development, Gant has a chance to be recruited by elite programs across the country.
Jerryd Bayless, 6-1 CG, Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's. Bayless is the most talented 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. This spring, however, he was a bit too selfish, and it looks like he's decided he's a shooting guard, or at least a shoot-first point guard. While he put on a show sometimes with his athleticism, his overall grasp of the game looks like it degraded. Even so, he's still very talented. 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 more talented 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.
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 shots in the city. He does have to turn that shot into a jumper rather than a set shot, and get bigger and stronger, but there are very few players that come along that combine Stanback's skills and overall grasp of the game. 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 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. UCLA has been showing him as much attention as they can. He came to the pick-up game on campus in June and played very well with the current players.
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. UCLA has been on him earlier than anyone.
Robert Sacre, 6-9 C, North Vancouver (BC, Canada) Handsworth School. A big kid who could be 6-10, with a very good body, kind of resembling the Lopez twins physically. Sacre emerged this spring, while UCLA apparently has known about him for sometime, and about his interest in UCLA. Sacre is still developing as a prospect, with that body and pretty good athleticism, and a developing skill set. He's big, tough and physical down low and is a good rebounder, which is something, with how scarce it is to find a real low-post banger these days. UCLA coaches have been to his high school and is really the one elite school on him early. There is talk with Sacre that he could come to the U.S. for his high school junior year.
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.
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. 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. He has said that Arizona is a favorite, but has been on UCLA's campus this spring quite a bit, also participating in the recent pick-up game with the current team.
Quinton Watkins, 6-4 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.
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 natural 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 75 national player.
Zane Johnson, 6-5 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.
Clint Amberry, 6-9 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. He does, though, need to step up his game, get more aggressive and compete, which he didn't do much of this spring. UCLA is trying to line up youngsters, and Amberry is one on the list. He attended UCLA's camp last June.
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.
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.
Justin Holiday, 6-6 SF North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. The older brother of freshman guard Jrue Holiday, Justin is quite a prospect in his own right. While Jrue is compact and strong, Justin is long and lean. Justin's a very good athlete – great lateral quickness for his size – and he flies all over the court. He played with great energy and is always active. He's very good at slashing to the basket and his jumpshot is improved from where it was a year ago. Justin is a very good defender right now, but could be a great defender with better technique. He has a chance to be a high major prospect.
THE 2008 CLASS
UCLA could have quite a few scholarships available for the current high school freshman class. You could bet on at least three, if not four. If somehow UCLA doesn't get a point guard by then, one would definitely be a high priority, and after that, it's difficult to project position needs. Probably a couple of bigs will be needed, since they always are, and then maybe one wing.
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, Van Nuys (Calif.) Montclair Prep. Imported from Korea, incredibly skilled, Kim would be a great fit at UCLA. 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, 6-0 PG, Compton (Calif.) Domiguez. Quick and skilled for a freshman, he just needs to fill out some and get stronger. He played this spring with the So Cal All-Stars, which got him a great deal of national exposure, so he's sure to be ranked among the top point guards in the national class of 2008, if not the #1 point guard. He is more of a scoring lead guard than a pure point, but his talent is unquestioned. Hopefully he'll continue to develop his team-oriented, point-guard skills and he'll fill out physically.
Larry Drew, 5-11 PG, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. The son of the former NBA player of the same name, he, of course, has a great natural feel and passing ability. While Jennings is going to get a lot of press as the superior point guard in the west, we feel Drew is right there with him. Drew is a true point. He's gotten bigger in just the last year, growing about an inch and filling out physically. He's still on the smallish side, but if he gets to 6-0+, all bets are off. His quickness has already improved as has his athleticism. Expect UCLA to be on Drew hard.
Jrue Holiday, 6-2 CG, 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, and has looked good this spring in AAU ball. 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. Even if he stays about the same size, it's still enough, given his talent, to be an elite wing.
Andy Poling, 6-10 C, Portland (Ore.) Westview. Poling was outstanding at the Rumble tourney Memorial Day, showing off a very advanced low post game. He's got a very nice little jump hook and he posted up aggressively. With long arms, good feet and good hands, Poling has all the tools to be an elite post player. He's a true five who understands that he's a five, with an outstanding feel in the low post. He's not very strong yet, which made his willingness to bang inside all the more impressive. Kevin Love gets all the attention in Oregon and rightfully so – he's a freak show. But after Love, Poling is going to be the next great big man out of the Pacific Northwest.
Jeff Withey, 6-10 C San Diego (Calif.) Horizon. After watching Poling at the Rumble In The Bay on Memorial Day, we would have been very surprised if anyone told us there was a comparable 2008 center on the West Coast. But Withey has a chance to be right there with Poling. Withey's got a great frame, with wide shoulders, and he moves very well. He's got good hands and feet, with a nice stroke out to about 15 feet. He's not quite as polished as Poling in the low post, but he might be a little better athlete overall. If he develops the way we think he will, Withey has a chance to be an elite, high major prospect.Ameer Shamsuddin, 6-0 PG, Portland (Ore.) Benson Tech. The 2008 West Coast point guard class is starting to look like it could be pretty special. Brandon Jennings and Larry Drew, Jr. have already shown that they're among the elite prospects in the country and Shamsuddin was very impressive when we saw him at the Kingwood tournament in April. A good-looking kid with a very nice frame, Shamsuddin is long and quick with a young face. He looks to have a good feel, as he made terrific decisions with the ball, advancing it several times with passes in transition. He showed a nice shot as well. We want to see him some more, but he was very intriguing in the one game we saw.
Nathen Garth, 6-0 PG, Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian. Garth is a true point with excellent ball skills, very good vision and a good outside shot. Unlike many of the players in AAU ball, Garth looks to distribute the ball and showed an understanding of how to play the game. He's got very good quickness, with the ability to penetrate and score or find an open teammate. He can go left or right equally well – his off hand (left) is as strong as we've seen in a freshman guard in a long time. With continued development, Garth has a chance to be one of the elite point guards in the 2008 class.
Demar DeRozan, 6-4 SF, Compton (Calif.) High. One of the elite athletes in the west, DeRozan is very explosive off the floor and can finish above the rim. Potentially, an elite, high major prospect.
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.
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.Luke Babbitt, 6-7 SF, Reno (Nev.) Galena. Not too many people have seen Babbitt, but he's getting hailed as a potential high major and one of the best players in Nevada.
Chris Solomon, 6-2 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Skilled shooting guard with a good approach to the game, Solomon is probably among the best young wings in the west.
Malik Story, 6-4 SG, Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. Story is a very good shooter, from behind the arc, and also in the mid-range. Just an average athlete could limit his upside, but someone to watch.