The Las Vegas Easter Classic starts Thursday and, while college coaches can't watch games until Saturday, we non-coaching types can.
With UCLA coming off a phenomenal run in the NCAA tournament, it's going to be interesting – and probably very exciting – to see how the UCLA program's higher profile lifts its recruiting profile. The program hasn't been in a better situation heading into a spring evaluation period in many years.
For UCLA fans, the Easter Classic will definitely be one to follow. Two of UCLA's top recruiting targets will be in Vegas -- Kevin Love, the 6-9 junior center from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, and the current #3-ranked player in the country; and the #7-ranked player in the nation, 6-8 junior forward Kyle Singler from Medford (Ore.) South Medford. Love will play with the Southern California All-Stars and Singler with the Portland Elite Legends.
UCLA is doing particularly well with Love and Singler, and if the Bruins get both of them it would be the best recruiting coup for UCLA in many years.
It will give us our first chance to see Love and Singler since the Les Schwab tournament in Oregon in December. With so many fans, particularly UCLA fans, waiting with baited breath about every move these two make, particularly how they play or what they say, we'll be in Vegas Thursday through Sunday to try to bring you as much coverage of them as possible.
Other UCLA prospects we know who will be in Vegas include Darnell Gant, the 6-8 junior forward from Los Angeles Crenshaw, who UCLA has offered; 6-3 sophomore guard Malcolm Lee from Riverside J.W. North, and Brandon Jennings, the elite sophomore point guard from Compton Dominguez.
There will undoubtedly be more UCLA prospects participating, and we'll keep you updated on them, and all the other new, developing UCLA recruiting information that comes out of Vegas this week. It's not difficult to expect some new prospects to emerge over the next few weeks, and we'll be there to provide you the info, the video (players in action and interviews), and all the hottest recruiting rumors.
Then, the weekend of the 21st-23rd it's the biggest national event of the spring, the Kingwood Classic in Houston. The Kingwood Classic attracts AAU teams and prospects from all over the country, so it should give us a good gauge of how UCLA's national recruiting profile has possibly changed. We expect to see Alex Legion, the 6-4 junior shooting guard and the #11 prospect in the nation, from Beverly Hills (Mich.) Country Day. Legion de-committed from Michigan recently and the word is that UCLA will be a big competitor for his services.
We then hop back to Las Vegas the weekend of the 28th-30th for the Double Pump Spring Classic. This will give us the opportunity to check out players like: #23 national sophomore Larry Drew, the 5-11 point guard from Woodland Hills Taft; #21 national prospect, 6-3 shooting guard Jrue Holiday from North Hollywood Campbell Hall; #9 national soph, 6-8 Luke Babbitt, from Reno (Nev.) Galena; and elite soph point guard, 6-2 Jerime Anderson from Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon.
Again, these are just some of the UCLA prospects we'll see. You can be certain there will be others cropping up on the rosters of AAU programs that we didn't anticipate. And even more exciting, there will undoubtedly be new names emerging as top prospects and UCLA's name being mentioned with more elite prospects across the nation.