One of UCLA's top targets in the junior class is Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw receiver Kemonte Bateman (6-1, 180). After a strong performance at the B2G Elite Football Program earlier this summer, which included MVP honors, Bateman got his first real chance to shine in front of the Bruin staff at their summer camp.
"Right after B2G, I went to UCLA's camp and did good there," said Bateman. "That's when E (former Bruin and former Crenshaw OC Eric Scott) told me. They really liked me and wanted to offer me."
While Bateman hasn't received an official offer from UCLA yet, he has basically been told one is coming. And he's all but told UCLA that he's coming. "UCLA said that they were going to wait until probably the middle of the season to offer me," said Bateman. "I want to make the early decision and once UCLA offers me, I'm done. Oregon and Tennessee have written me and I've heard from Cal, Michigan, then Miami, but they're all second to UCLA. It would take a miracle to keep me from going there."
The presence of Crenshaw players at UCLA, plus Scott's influence, are all playing a factor for Bateman. "Raymond (Carter) and Brian (Price), whenever they go there, they call me and tell me to come with them," said Bateman. "Eric Scott, he always wants me up there. They want me to get used to their environment."
He also has felt a strong connection with head coach Karl Dorrell and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who is recruiting the L.A. city area. "Coach Dorrell and Walker, yeah, I like them a lot," said Bateman. "They make it fun and interesting, how they break it down, how they teach them the fundamentals."
Bateman said another key factor in his interest in UCLA is the proximity to home. "My family really wants to see me stay local," said Bateman.
Bateman did indicate that he could wait on verbally committing, but not for long. "I might wait until after Brian and Raymond sign (on Signing Day), then announce it, but UCLA knows it's coming," said Bateman. "Them being there, that's a big part of it."
Bateman didn't get a chance to attend UCLA's home opener against Utah because of the late return home from their opening loss to Merced. "I wanted to go, but I just couldn't make it," said Bateman. "I'll be there this weekend, though, when they play Rice."
In Crenshaw's opener, Bateman saw tight coverage, but had six receptions for 68 yards. "We had them in the red zone but we couldn't punch it in. We didn't give the ball to Raymond enough. And our special teams, that's where they won," said Bateman. "We just have to bounce back this week."
This weekend, Crenshaw will take on Taft in a much anticipated rematch of the City Section championship, which the Cougars won a year ago. A week later, they will host Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, where Bateman will go up against four-star cornerback David Ross. "We've got a big game at home this weekend and then another one. We miss Coach Scott and his play calling, but we'll be alright," said Bateman.
Academically, Bateman said he had a 2.5 GPA and is already taking SAT preparation classes to take the test in the fall.