The most recent development in UCLA basketball recruiting was UCLA receiving the National Letter of Intent of Marko Spica, the 6-9, 230-pound post player from Belgrade, Serbia.
We haven't seen Spica, but he's been described as being similar to Oregon State's Sasha Cuic, a player who can play in the low-block but also step out and shoot.
Spica took the SAT in December and he's just waiting for that score to be received and then sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse. Spica, reportedly, is a good student.
That makes the 2006 recruiting class a two-man affair, with Spica joining top-30 national prospect James Keefe, the 6-8 forward from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita.
With two scholarships spoken for in the 2006 class, that gives UCLA two open scholarships to give to the 2007 class.
But that number could be flexible. For a number or reasons.
First, we have it on pretty good authority that UCLA sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar would possibly leave the school early for the NBA. In fact, if Farmar had an incredible sophomore year, he could be compelled to leave after this year. Even if he did have a very good year this season, conventional wisdom is that he'd be more likely to leave for the NBA after his junior year.
That presents a bit of a recruiting dilemma for UCLA. If Farmar did happen to leave after his junior year, it would give UCLA three scholarships to give to the 2007 class. You probably think that is, at least, something positive to take from Farmar leaving. But the problem is, with how sped up college basketball recruiting is, you recruit every summer for the graduating class of the following spring. And, when a college player decides to go pro is in spring -- so it's close to a year after your program would be able to recruit anyone to fill that scholarship for the next fall.
Now, there could be some telltale signs that it would be pretty likely by next spring that Farmar could go pro after his junior year. It could be that he has a great season this year, and is projected fairly high as a draft choice, but not quite high enough to really warrant going out in 2006 If that were the case, UCLA, going into the high-season of recruiting this coming spring and summer, could take the relative risk and recruit to fill that scholarship for the 2007-2008 season, gambling that Farmar does in fact leave after that season. If you do take the commitment, and he doesn't leave, or he's injured, redshirts and returns, you run the risk of having 14 players committed to scholarships for that season, which actually isn't the end of the world. It's a situation where something could happen to alleviate the problem anyway, like another player transfers or leaves the program because of injury.
Also, there is a new NCAA rule that could open up additional scholarships. The rule dictates that for every player on scholarship who has a 3.5 GPA or higher the program would be allowed to bring in an additional scholarship player. So far there is only sketchy information about the rule -- such as: how long you have to maintain the 3.5 GPA before the program is granted another scholarship. What happens if that one student falls below a 3.5 GPA -- is the extra scholarship rescinded? Will the NCAA actually go forward with this rule, one that seems would promote cheating?
While most programs, including UCLA, aren't relying on this new rule to give them additional scholarships just yet, it is an issue to keep an eye on, especially given the situation with UCLA's scholarship numbers and Jordan Farmar.
If the rule does take effect, say, this year, it might not matter if Farmar goes pro early for UCLA to give out an additional, third scholarship for the class of 2007.
And right now, the way UCLA is operating, it looks as if they're assuming they will have a third scholarship available.
That third scholarship looks like it would be filled most likely by a guard. UCLA, for the 2007 class, would ideally like to get one big and one wing with its two available scholarships, and then one guard if a third scholarship opens up. Especially if UCLA does recruit to fill Farmar's scholarship, you'd have to think that third scholarship for 2007 would be most likely filled by a good ball-handling guard. With Farmar possibly leaving early, that would make Darren Collison the only true point guard on the squad for possibly a year or more, so you'd like to see UCLA get a player who could at least provide you back-up minutes at the one.
Given all of these variables, UCLA could very well also add another scholarship player to the 2006 class this spring if an elite guard emerges. It would still have scholarship space next season, currently with only 11 players on scholarship for 2006-2007. As of right now, there aren't any clear-cut UCLA-level recruits on the west coast remaining in the 2006 class. Russell Westbrook, the 6-1 combo guard at Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, is someone interesting to watch. He has a chance to play some point guard, and grew up playing point guard, which is intriguing, and he's continued to grow, having grown a couple of inches in the last year. He shoots the ball well, but is more of a scorer than a pure shooter, and is a good athlete. He also is a very good student.
UCLA coaches, including Head Coach Ben Howland, have seen Westbrook play this fall. So far, UCLA is still just watching Westbrook.
UCLA, of course, has already begun scouting and recruiting the prospects for the class of 2007 (which are currently in their junior year in high school) as much as they can under NCAA rules. The UCLA coaches have been out scouting extensively this fall and winter, primarily for the 2007 class.
Of course, if you're discussing the class of 2007, you have to address the issue of Taylor King, the 6-6 forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. As we all know, King committed to UCLA before his freshman year in high school, and then de-committed last summer. Many observers considered the King de-commitment a negative, while many others now consider it a positive -- for many reasons -- and it's fruitless to debate the issue. Regardless, it's highly unlikely UCLA would get involved with King again. If, perhaps, UCLA had a scholarship open for the 2007 class and King, from a talent standpoint, fit into their plans, and King comes to UCLA and says he wants to commit again, UCLA would probably consider it. But don't expect UCLA to spend any time recruiting King.
SO, here's a look at the guys we're pretty certain UCLA will recruit for the class of 2007. Of course, there is the usual disclaimer: It's still early on in the process for the class of 2007, so this list could change between now and next summer.
(Don't forget to click on the links to the profiles of each player, where you get further scouting and recruiting information, and videos of action and interviews)
TOP TIER FOR 2007
Kevin Love, 6-10 C, Lake Oswego (Ore.) High. Love had a great spring and summer, and dominated almost everyone he faced besides Greg Oden. So far this winter he's having a monster junior year. 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, as a sophomore in high school. Not only is he very sophisticated in his low post moves, but he loves to bang, is aggressive and has a mean streak. he also has developed a nice outside touch and can shoot threes, and has the best outlet pass since Walton. The son of former Duck and NBAer, Stan Love, he is the #3-ranked player in the class of 2007 nationally. The knock on him a bit has been his athleticism and his bothersome knees, but college basketball fans should thank the gods for those drawbacks since those could be the only potential factors that would keep him in college basketball longer than is required, and it still might not be enough. He's definitely a candidate to leave for the NBA after doing his dutiful one year of college. Head Coach Ben Howland has taken on Love's recruitment personally. On the first day out during the fall, Howland went to see Love work out. Last summer UCLA emerged as Love's leader, and then he took an extended unofficial visit to Westwood this fall, which has been described by those close to the Loves as just about a perfect visit. Since then, Love has gushed about UCLA. In fact, there were rumors, perpetuating by Dick Vitale, that Love had actually told UCLA he was coming. North Carolina is probably UCLA's biggest competition, and his childhood favorite, Duke, is trying to get into the act now. He'll try to visit both of those unofficially this spring (the new NCAA rule allows for recruits to only visit schools officially during their senior year). Love is truly the biggest recruit for Howland since he's been at UCLA.
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 could be the two best prospects in the west, regardless of class. Singler is ranked the #6 player in the national 2007 class, and he's 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 junior. Picture Mike Dunleavy, probably not as quick, but built better. In the 2007 class in the west, he'd be the #1 small forward and the #1 power forward. He showed so well last summer that he's also a candidate to go one-and-out. If he continues to grow, forget about it. The bad news was that UCLA wasn't getting mentioned by Singler. The good news -- that's all changed. Kevin Love and Singler are close friends, and Love has started to influence Singler about UCLA since Love's unofficial visit weekend. As a result, Singler is now mentioning UCLA as one of his two favorites, along with Duke. While packaged deals don't happen as often as you might think, this is a potentially a viable one. UCLA's recruitment of Love and Singler is probably the biggest basketball recruiting issue in many, many years, and has the magnitude of instantly vaulting UCLA back into elite-program status. Howland is undertaking Singler's recruitment himself, and actually attended one of Singler's football games this fall (he's a good quarterback and tight end). You can probably expect Singler to take an unofficial visit to UCLA this spring with his buddy, Love, when they're out on the AAU circuit. Just getting Love would be the biggest recruiting coup in many years, but getting Love and Singler would be one for the ages.
Darnell Gant, 6-8 SO PF/SF 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 last spring and summer, we think Gant is the best power forward prospect in the West Coast class of 2007, and he could end up a small forward. 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 one of the best upsides of any recruit in the west. UCLA has offered him a scholarship early, and UCLA coaches have been to his games. He'll probably visit UCLA's campus unofficially soon. He has had some academic issues, but he's a good kid, has worked hard on his academics and it appears he's on track to qualify for admission to UCLA.
Chace Stanback, 6-6 SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback has been one of the best young prospects in the L.A. area for sometime. Having been pretty skinny, he's filled out some since last summer, filling out a good frame, with wide shoulders. He is a good athlete, with good lateral quickness for his size, and he's one of the most skilled players in the west, regardless of class. He has one of the prettiest outside shots in the city, and has a great, innate sense of the game and passing ability. He had a great sophomore year for Fairfax, really showing off his skill set and his improving athleticism. He looked very good at last summer's Nike Camp because he appears to be the smooth type, but he showed great explosiveness and quickness competing among the elite at Nike. He's 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 pick-up games on campus over the summer, to a UCLA football game this fall, and to a couple of home basketball games so far this season. UCLA has offered, and the word is that Stanback is also waiting to see if childhood favorite North Carolina will offer. It's difficult getting recruiting information on Stanback, but we've heard that UCLA is doing well with him. UCLA would love to get Love, and then one among Singler, Gant and Stanback.
Derrick Rose, 6-2 PG, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon. One of the best true point guards in the 2007 class, nationally, Rose is currently ranked the #5 player in that class. One scout described him as a "future pro," with good size and athleticism with a true point guard sense. UCLA is trying to get involved. UCLA assistant Ernie Zeigler recently went back to the midwest to watch him. If UCLA got a class of Love, one among Singler/Gant/Stanback, and a point guard like Rose, it'd be time to pop major corks in Westwood.
Julian Vaughn, 6-8 PF, Reston (Virg.) South Lakes. The #19-ranked player in the country, Vaughn is a low-post load, weighing about 250ish. He has all the elites after him, and UCLA is gauging interest. Zeigler took a swing to Virginia recently to watch Vaughn.
PROBABLY TOP TARGETS
Josh Southern, 6-9 C, Saginaw (Mich.) High. A player who looks to be emerging as a national name, Southern is a good athlete with a good low-post game. Michigan State is the early leader.
James Hickson, 6-8 PF, Marrietta (GA.) Wheeler. A long and very athletic forward who is crafty around the basket and likes to step away to get his shot. The #21-ranked player in the 2007 class, and UCLA is checking out his interest.
Solomon Alabi, 7-0 C, Montverde (Fla.) Montverde Academy. A recent import from Nigeria, Alabi goes to the same high school as current UCLA freshman, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Not many have seen him just yet, but he's been described as the real deal, with a big body and good athleticism. It could be tough for UCLA to wedge in, especially if there are some schools that were involved in placing him in the States.
Jamelle Horne, 6-6 SF, San Diego (Calif.) High. One of the elite players in the west, with a great, long body, very good athleticism and aggressiveness. He was dinged up a bit last summer so it limited him from making all the national lists, but he's potentially a top 40 national prospect. He is an excellent athlete, not only able to get off the floor, but moves very well laterally. UCLA might not recruit him due to some issues.
Anthony Randolph, 6-10 C, Dallas (Tex.) Wilson. Transferred from Arkansas to Texas, Randolph was one of the best five overall prospects at the Pangos camp last spring, which is significant since he was 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. Randolph jumped onto the national lists by last spring. He's originally from Southern California and still has family here, and there was talk he could transfer back to SoCal. He's definitely someone UCLA will investigate, but there could be issues.
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 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, but it appears now that Cal has the inside track.
Austin Daye, 6-7 SG, Irvine (Calif.) Woodbridge. We've been saying for a couple of years that Daye would be a kid that would grow, and we've watched him sprout from about 6-4 to 6-7 in about a year. He's still very skinny and looks like a baby, and could very well continue to grow. 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. This season will be a big determining factor for Daye, whether he's developed enough physically to be recruited at the high-major level. If he has, watch for UCLA to be involved seriously. Daye, right now, sounds like he wants to look elsewhere besides his dad's alma mater.
Sean Williams, 6-10 C, Villa Park (Calif.) High. For the last couple of years, observers have been waiting for Williams to get some control of his coordination to go along with his long, athletic body. This last summer he started to do just that, and looked like a high-major center prospect. Academics are a question, and Williams has said he might want to leave Southern California.
Justin Holiday, 6-6 SF North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. The older brother of standout sophomore 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 plays 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.
Eli Holman, 6-8 C, Richmond (Calif.) High. Among the best big men in the west for 2007, and right now he still looks like a baby, all arms and legs. But he's very athletic and has very good quickness for his size, and looks like he's has tremendous upside. The issue could be academics, but someone to definitely keep an eye on in 2007.
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's relatively unknown outside the west right now, and he had a disappointing summer, tending to be injured quite a bit. This winter, he looks like he's taking basketball more seriously, with a leaner body and playing more focused. He attended a UCLA game lat year, and has interest in the Bruins.
Garrett Green, 6-8 PF, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft. A skilled frontcourt player who shoots it well with very good mobility, Green possibly has a chance to possibly grow into one of the best frontcourt players in SoCal. He's still very raw, though, and learning the game, but has enough tools to make him someone to watch.
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. His stroke has improved, and he 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. Academics will probably be the limitation in UCLA recruiting him.
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, even though he plays out of control often. 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, but was a bit out of control last summer in AAU.
Eshaunte Jones, 6-3 CG, Fort Wayne (Ind.) North Side. A skilled guard who is originally from California, and has said UCLA is his long-time favorite school. Jones can score, and can shoot very well, but can play point guard also, while he's pretty thin and needs to develop physically. If he emerges as an elite prospect, you could expect UCLA to get involved seriously, and probably be competing with midwest powers like Kansas and Louisville for him.
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 has a chance, but probably not a UCLA-level player.
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.
Jon Reed, 6-5 SF, Rolling Hills (Calif.) Palos Verdes Peninsula. A good-shooting wing with a good body and some decent athleticism. Many believe he has the potential to blossom, but as of now just a guy 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, 6-2 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, Titus Shelton, who is a freshman at 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.
Isaiah Thomas, 5-8, Tacoma (Wash.) Curtis. Talented, particulary as a scorer, and is lighting it up in Washington in his junior season. Has a good, strong body for being 5-8, but that size could keep him off the high-major list.
THE 2008 CLASS
UCLA could have quite a few scholarships available for the current high school sophomore 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 one big and one wing.
There will undoubtedly be more national prospects on the list, but right now these are mostly the west coast guys recognized to be potential UCLA targets.
Brandon Jennings, 6-0 PG, Compton (Calif.) Domiguez. Quick and skilled, he just needs to fill out some and get stronger. He played this summer 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. He has said UCLA is on his short list.
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 taller in just the last year, growing about an inch, but he's still very thin and 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.
Drew Gordon, 6-8 PF, San Jose (Calif.) Bisho Mitty. One of the clearly elite talents in the 2008 class in the west, Gordon has a great body and potential pro athleticism. He's young and still learning the game, but UCLA has already recognized him as a top priority. He has said in the past that UCLA was a favorite of his.
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 looked good last summer 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 had a good summer, 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. He came to UCLA's spring camp and has said he likes UCLA.
Luke Babbitt, 6-7 SF, Reno (Nev.) Galena. Babbitt became know last summer when he beat many older and more heralded players in the camps and tournaments. He came to UCLA's spring camp and you can bet that UCLA has him targeted. He's very skilled and crafty around the basket. If he grows to 6-8ish, he's a top 25 potential prospect.
Jeff Withey, 6-10 C San Diego (Calif.) Horizon. After watching Poling last summer, it's clear that he is one of the elite prospects center on the West Coast for 2008, and 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.
Malcolm Lee, 6-2 PG, Riverside (Calif.) North. Emerged last summer as potentially another high-major point guard in the west coast class of 2008. Lee is long and lanky, but has good size, and quickness for that size, and good skills for this stage in his development. He's attended a UCLA football game.
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.
Nicci Combs, 5-10 PG, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe. Touted as one of the best point guards in the midwest, Combs attended UCLA's spring camp.
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.
Auri Allen, 6-8 C, Homeschooled, former with Los Angeles (Calif.) Verbum Dei. A big bodied kid who's getting hyped too much early. Allen, though, has a chance, with good agility.
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.
Jason Pruitt, 6-2 SG, Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia. The younger brother of current USC player Gabe Pruitt, Jason is athletic and aggressive. Right now, he has a scorer's mentality and plays off the ball mostly, but he has the ball skills to possibly develop into a point guard, and just needs to develop the feel.
Elston Turner, 6-3 SG, Roseville (Calif.) High. Turner has a great body, looking like a classic two-guard and combines above average athleticism with a good stroke.
Clarence Trent, 6-6 PF, Olympia (Wash.) River Ridge. An undersized four at this point, but very skilled, and mobile. He's very comfortable on the perimeter, with the ability to shoot and pass, and has good athleticism.
Corbin Moore, 6-9 C, Los Alamitos (Calif.) High. Moore has a great frame, and is young looking so he could grow some more. He moves really well, has good feet and hands. Facing the basket he can really shoot, out to three, and needs to develop a back-to-the-basket game. But one to definitely watch in 2008.