It's a pretty exciting time for UCLA basketball -- and for UCLA basketball recruiting.
UCLA is doing well on the court, and doing very well in recruiting.
You know it's getting exciting when one of the biggest topics of discussion concerning UCLA basketball recruiting is how the coaches will manage to get enough scholarships to go around.
Currently, if everyone is on the roster for the 2006/2007 season that is supposed to be on the roster, UCLA will fill 11 scholarships.
There has been some speculation that Michael Fey, the senior center, could be able to redshirt and return next season but it's highly unlikely. To redshirt, given UCLA's schedule, he could only play in 6 games and he's played in 8.
But the scholarship number could change depending on a couple of situations.
Spica, the 6-9, 230-pound post player from
make 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
But UCLA could very well
also add another scholarship player to the 2006 class this spring. As of right
now, the best candidate is easily Russell
Westbrook, the 6-2 combo guard at
There is also always the possibility of a transfer. We haven't heard about any player specifically intending to transfer, just speculation.
So that's the situation for 2006. In terms of 2007, much of what remains to happen with the class of 2006 greatly impacts the class of 2007.
If UCLA, for instance, brings in both Spica and Westbrook, they would have just one scholarship to give to the 2007 class.
But, as we've discussed ad infinitum, there is always the possibility of other scholarships opening up for 2007.
Both Jordan Farmar and
Arron Afflalo are legitimate candidates to leave school before their four
years for the NBA. If either projected as a high draft choice, it's pretty
certain that either could leave after this year. We expect both to
attend the pre-draft camp in
But given their development, and conservatively projecting reasonable future development, it's not a stretch at all to think that either Farmar or Afflalo, or both, could leave early for the NBA after their junior seasons -- the 2007/2008 season.
That presents a bit of a recruiting dilemma for UCLA. If just one among Farmar or Afflalo did happen to leave after their 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 either 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 this spring that Farmar and/or Afflalo could go pro after their junior year. It could be that both continue to have stellar seasons and are projected fairly high as draft choices, 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 (the current junior class, the class of 2007), gambling that at least one of the two does in fact leave after that season. If you do take the commitment, and neither leave, or they're injured, redshirt and return, 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 Farmar and Afflalo.
If the rule does take effect, say, this year, it might not matter if either Farmar or Afflalo goes pro early for UCLA to give out an additional scholarship for the class of 2007.
And right now, the way UCLA is operating, it looks as if they're assuming they will have that additional scholarship available.
So, say, Spica did qualify, and UCLA did take Russell Westbrook, it's pretty certain it would still be looking to give out at least two scholarships for the 2007 class, banking on the fact that at least one of either Farmar or Afflalo, or both, would be going pro after the 2006-2007 season.
If UCLA doesn't get Spica or fill another ride in the spring, it's probably pretty certain that UCLA would be looking to fill three scholarships with the 2007 class.
If UCLA doesn't get Spica and also doesn't fill a ride in spring, and they're pretty confident that either Farmar and Afflalo could go pro after next year, UCLA very well could possibly be looking to give out four scholarships in 2007.
UCLA, of course, is very far along in scouting and recruiting 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.
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: This list could drastically change by spring and summer as the AAU circuit kicks into gear.
(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
Love, 6-10 C,
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
Singler, 6-8 SF,
Gant, 6-8 SO PF/SF
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.
Darnell Gant from Crenshaw.
Stanback, 6-6 SG,
Rose, 6-2 PG, Chicago (
Vaughn, 6-8 PF, Reston (Virg.)
PROBABLY TOP TARGETS
Southern, 6-9 C,
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.
Alabi, 7-0 C, Montverde (
Randolph, 6-10 C, Dallas (
Viney, 6-5 SF,
Williams, 6-10 C,
Holiday, 6-6 SF
Harden, 6-4 SG,
Holman, 6-8 C,
Amoke, 6-5 SF,
Johnson, 6-5 SF,
Brown, 6-1 PG,
Daye, 6-8 SG,
Jones, 6-3 CG,
Walker, 6-7 PF, Scripps Ranch (
Reed, 6-5 SF, Rolling Hills (
Jenkins, 6-3 PG/SG
McMillan, 6-2 PG, Seattle (
Shelton, 6-6 PF,
Kamp, 6-7 PF/C,
Suttle, 6-3 SG,
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 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.
|Elite sophomore Jrue Holiday.|
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's had a phenomenal junior year, with his game really continuing to develop, being one of the best all-around guards in the west, regardless of class. He can shoot, drive and pass the ball on offense and is a very good defender. He has a great knack for the game, and an aggressive scorer's mentality. A top 40 national caliber player, Holiday has been to some UCLA games and Howland has been to a few of Campbell Hall's.
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.
Jerime Anderson, 6-1 PG, Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon. Andrerson is a great-looking young point with exceptional feel and very good skill level. Shoots it to three-point range well and has nice mid-range game. Excellent decision-maker. True point who understands the game. Elite, high major prospect and could be among the best 3 point guards in California in this class.
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.
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, 6-3 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.