…With UCLA's #1 recruiting target another hemisphere away.
Aaron Brooks, 5-11 SR PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, is on Margarita, a Venezuelan island in the Caribbean, playing with the USA Basketball
It looks like it's going to be a Oregon/Washington/UCLA battle, and Oregon has a great advantage at this point.
Ernie Kent, the Oregon Head Coach, conveniently is coaching the USA team, which allows him to spend some great quality recruiting time with Brooks. So, the other coaches recruiting Brooks have been looking like puppy dogs following them around. Steve Lavin was in Miami for a couple of days last week when Brooks was trying out to make the final cut of the team (which he did, obviously). So was Washington's Lorenzo Romar. Lavin plans to spend a few days this week on Margarita, watching Brooks play, as does Romar.
The word around recruiting circles is that UCLA is currently running third behind Oregon and Washington. Some close to the Brooks situation have said if he doesn't go to Oregon he'd more than likely opt to stay in comfortable surroundings and close to home at Washington. Again, though, when Lavin has a recruit in his sights he's been very good at landing him.
The plan will return home and take whatever remaining official visits he wants – and one to Oregon is definitely in the cards. As he told us last week, he should make a decision fairly quickly after his trips.
UCLA has been developing a back-up plan for Brooks in the form of Marcus Williams, 6-2 SR PG, Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill. The UCLA coaches were at every one of Williams's games last week at the Fullcourt Press Tournament in Whittier, and were in attendance Monday in Vegas when he played. Williams' stock has been holding steady this summer so far. He twisted an ankle at Nike and didn't play the majority of the camp, which kept many college coaches from being able to make a decision about him. Last week in Whittier and here, he hasn't done much that will make his stock really move up. He's shown to be the same player he was – a very good outside shooter who has good handle, that isn't particularly quick or athletic and has more of a two-guard's mentality to the game. UCLA and Williams seemed to go their separate ways a couple of months ago, but the on-again-off-again relationship looks to be on – at least from UCLA's perspective. We have yet to hear any reliable information from the Williams perspective, just second-hand that he's again considering UCLA.
Trevor Ariza, 6-7 SR SF, Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, played well at the Peach Jam back east last week. Reportedly more interest from other schools is starting to heat up. We'll try to get an update this week on him, since he's playing with the Pump N' Run team here in Vegas.
There is still word that UCLA could offer Sean Marshall, 6-4 SR SF, Rialto (Calif.) Eisenhower, but we haven't heard whether that's happened yet. He's also here in Vegas and we'll try to interview him while we're here.
To be candid, UCLA has spent quite a bit of time following Aaron Brooks and Marcus Williams in the last week. It will be interesting to see how much scouting of underclassmen UCLA does this week in Las Vegas.
A rundown of some of the standouts players, including underclassmen, at the Big Time is on the way...