UCLA's Elite Camp kicks off today and, in its third year, the camp has become quite an event on its own, attracting some top talent.
Of course, the big story is that Kevin Love, the 6-9 rising senior from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, the #2-ranked player in the country, will attend the camp. He's expected to participate at least Thursday and possibly Wednesday while in Los Angeles visiting his relatives. He was on UCLA's campus Tuesday. Naturally, speculation is that Love could verbally commit to UCLA on this visit and there is the chance that could happen. Based on nothing more than our own take on the situation, we feel it's more likely that he doesn't necessarily make a verbal commitment public this week, but would wait to announce his decision at a later date, perhaps at the Reebok ABCD Camp the first week of July, or perhaps even later.
No matter, it's a huge coup for UCLA to have Love attend their camp and spend time with the coaches on campus.
UCLA, though, will indeed have a number of campers who are already committed to UCLA participate. In the incoming freshman class, there will be Russell Westbrook, the 6-2 combo guard from Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, who committed to UCLA in spring. Westbrook finished the year as the #66-ranked player in the nation, according to Scout.com's Dave Telep. He's a prolific scorer who is still growing and maturing, with good ball-handling and passing skills. James Keefe, the 6-8 McDonald's All-American forward from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, ranked the #30 prospect in the nation, will be in camp. Also, walk-on guard, 6-3 Mustafa Abdul-Hamid from St. Louis (Missouri) Country Day, who had an offer to play at Harvard next year after averaging 23 points per game as a senior, will attend his second UCLA camp, after doing so a year ago.
Still potentially part of the 2006 class is Marko Spica, the 6-9 center from Serbia Montenegro. Spica took another attempt at the SAT this month and is awaiting word on whether the combination of his current score and his GPA will be good enough for him to qualify academically. UCLA, as we reported, is also recruiting another foreign player, who also took the SAT this month. To our knowledge, neither will participate in the Elite Camp.
The 2007 Class
Besides Love, the real treat will be the participation in the camp of UCLA-committed Chace Stanback, the 6-6 senior-to-be small forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax. Stanback, a top 50 national player, after some very good performances this spring, received a firm UCLA offer and then verbally committed in April.
UCLA is limited in its available scholarships for the class of 2007, so it's very impressive that it attracted some other senior-to-be talent. Clint Chapman, the 6-9 center from Canby (Ore.) High, has been getting national attention this spring (we've written about him in the west for the last year). Chapman has really developed, with good athleticism and a good developing skill set, and with a dearth of athletic, skilled big men out there he's getting high-major attention. He has said he will more than likely go to the Pac-10. Scott Thompson is a 6-10 center from Meridian (Ida.) Mountain View who Greg Hicks, the west coast recruiting expert for Scout.com, believes is a high-major prospect, with good skills and agility.
Also from the 2007 class will be Jon Wills, the 6-5 wing from Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair, and Traevon Harmon, the 5-11 point guard from Pasadena (Calif.) High, among others.
The 2008 Class
The camp will be dominated mostly by the rising junior class, with most of the participants from this class.
Among those will be a number of the top guard prospects in the 2008 class in the west that UCLA is strongly considering - all on the same floor, playing against each other. So, this is where it will get particularly interesting in terms of UCLA recruiting.
There will be Jerime Anderson, the 6-2 point guard from Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon; Malcolm Lee, the 6-3 combo guard from Riverside (Calif.) North, and Larry Drew, the 5-11 point guard from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft.
How well each of these players performs in camp over the next few days could determine who UCLA offers first, which obviously reflects who UCLA wants the most. It's very possible all three could garner a scholarship offer.
But not only will you have a point guard showdown, you'll also have a big man battle. Slated to attend the camp is Corbin Moore, the 6-9 junior-to-be post from Los Alamitos (Calif.) High and Jeff Withey the 6-10 2008 center from San Diego (Calif.) Horizon (who will leave early to also attend Arizona's camp). Also possibly attending UCLA's camp will be Edgar Garibay, the 6-10 center from Compton (Calif.) High. These players are probably three of the four top big men in the west for the class of 2008. Moore has a chance to be a high major, and has family ties to UCLA. Withey is probably viewed as the best prospect among the three coming into the camp and has UCLA high on his list. Garibay is somewhat unknown outside of the L.A. area, but should easily be considered among this group.
The 2009 and 2010 Classes
What will really give the UCLA camp a great depth of talent is the amount of potentially elite players attending in the rising sophomore and freshman classes.
From 2009, there will players already identified as potentially elite prospects:
-- Travis Wear and David Wear, the very talented 6-8 twins from Santa Ana
(Calif.) Mater Dei
-- Roberto Nelson, the 6-2 combo guard from Santa Barbara (Calif.) High, considered one of best guards in class in west
-- Reeves Nelson, the 6-5 wing from Modesto (Calif.) Christian, showed this spring will probably be elite wing
-- Jared Cunningham, 6-0 point guard, San Leandro (Calif.) High, could be best point in west coast for his class
-- Lucas Devenny, 6-7 post, Santa Rosa (Calif.) High, getting some strong early attention
-- Brendan Lane, 6-8 post, Rockland (Calif.) High, we've heard he's a potential elite prospect
-- Robert Smith, 6-0 point guard, Perris (Calif.) High, another getting early hype
-- Rome Draper, 6-4 wing, Etiwanda (Calif.) High, also pegged early as potential elite
-- Andrew Boch, 6-0 point guard, Rialto (Calif.) Hig, talented point guard
-- Andy Brown, 6-6 forward, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, thought to be one of best PFs in class
-- Keegan Hornbuckle, 6-5 wing, North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, very good skills for his age
From 2010, playing in the camp will be the player getting the most hype in the freshman-to-be class in SoCal, 6-6 Dwayne Polee, whose high school is still undetermined. Probably the local incoming high school freshmen getting the second-most hype is James Johnson, the 6-5 wing who will be going to North Hollywood Campbell Hall. There will also be a youngster who is considered a potentially elite prospect, 6-3 guard Tre Zeigler, who will be attending Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame and is the son of UCLA assistant Ernie Zeigler, and friends with Polee.
We've heard there is also the possibility of some other elite prospect possibly atending the camp, particularly from the 2008 class.
It will certainly be interesting to see these players on the same floor with each other, with Love possibly playing alongside James Keefe or Russell Westbrook, or receiving passes from Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee or Larry Drew. Current UCLA players will also be able to demonstrate drills, so Arron Afflalo or Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could at one time be on the same floor with Stanback and/or Love.
The UCLA Elite Camp, unfortunately, is not open to the public, to maintain a good teaching environment for Head Coach Ben Howland and his staff.