Update on Hoops Recruiting

UCLA coaches are on the road to visit recruits unofficially -- and try to lock up some official visits. Here's the latest on what's happening with the #4-ranked player in the nation, Kyle Singler, #6-ranked Derrick Rose, and how Jerime Anderson's commitment affects the class of 2008...

The latest, biggest news in UCLA basketball recruiting is the verbal commitment of 6-1 junior point guard Jerime Anderson, from Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon.

Anderson was offered a scholarship by the UCLA staff Thursday and immediately accepted. Read the story and his quotes here.

Probably almost as significant is the fact that UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland and assistant coach Kerry Keating will be in Oregon Saturday, for in-home visits with UCLA-committed senior center, 6-9 Kevin Love, of Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, and 6-8 senior forward Kyle Singler of Medford (Ore.) South Medford.

It's a big step in the recruitment of Singler, the #4-ranked player in the country. UCLA will be trying to nail down an official visit with Singler. If they can, it would definitely signify that UCLA has a very good chance for him. If not, it could mean that UCLA is an extreme longshot. UCLA isn't going to get Singler without an official visit, and if he chooses not to visit UCLA officially that would probably mean the end of the road for the Bruins and Singler.

But sources are indicating that UCLA, recently, has been making up some ground with Singler, and has a good chance of getting him to visit officially. As many already know, Singler is close with Love, the two having played together on the same AAU team in the past. They visited UCLA unofficially together back in the spring, a visit that was considered very successful.

Standing in the way is Duke, who is widely considered the leader for Singler. When Singler first emerged as an elite prospect as a sophomore he generally told every reporter that Duke was his childhood favorite. He has a planned official visit to Duke on September 23rd.

Since the spring, when Singler took an unofficial visit to Duke when back in North Carolina for the Bob Gibbons tournament, it's been believed by those close to the situation that Duke was the leader. But recently, after Singler spent some time with Love and his family in New York for a recent promotional game, UCLA has made up some ground. Duke is still considered the leader, but there is word that there is some concern about going that far away to school, being that far away from his family, with his family unable to watch him play.

Some close to the situation have also believed that Singler might have been a little reserved about UCLA the last couple of months because it seemed that Love had taken up most of the UCLA spotlight. There could be some concern that Singler would be more of a second thought if he went to UCLA with Love.

But recently it appears that some of those concerns have been allayed.

Singler has also indicated that he plans to visit Arizona next weekend, September 15th, and Kansas on October 14th. Washington is also still in the mix and trying to secure an official visit.

The word, though, is that if he does stay out west, it will be UCLA. The Bruins are attempting to get him to visit the weekend of October 7th, the same weekend as a home football game against Arizona, with the students in school. It could very well coincide with the official visit of Love.

The big hurdle will be if Singler verbally commits to Duke on his visit two weeks before that. If he doesn't, and he makes it to his visit to UCLA, the Bruins chances would definitely be improved.

Singler is a game-changer, a talent that would vastly impact a program and immediately make it a contender for a national championship.

Derrick Rose, the 6-2 point guard from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon, the #6-ranked player in the nation, has been expressing interest in UCLA in recent weeks. Love has been recruiting Rose, trying to get him to come to UCLA to play with him, and it's been effective. Rose said that UCLA would get one of his five official visits, with Memphis, DePaul, Indiana and Kansas getting the other four. We're still skeptical that UCLA will have a real chance with Rose, since Memphis is known to have been heavily involved with him for sometime. Rose recently took an unofficial visit to Indiana with his fellow AAU teammate and top 5 national player, Eric Gordon, too, and there is talk they could become a Hoosier package.

UCLA does have some things to sell to Rose, however. Playing with Love, for one. Rose seemingly is interested in playing at an Adidas school. Playing his college basketball in a big media market like L.A., possibly against his rival, O.J. Mayo, who could commit to USC, could be enticing.

Still, while it makes some sense when you put some pieces together, most recruiting insiders believe that he'll end up at Memphis or Indiana.

UCLA will also be trying to line up the official visit for Rose on the same weekend with Love, to have Love help recruit him. It could be that all three – Love, Singler, and Rose – end up visiting on the same weekend. It also is being considered to have them Singler on a separate weekend, for him to get enough attention worthy of his ability.

What would happen if UCLA got commitments from both Singler and Rose? It'd be fun, but problematic, one of those problems of luxury that so few programs in the country have. UCLA, as of now, with the commitments of Love and Chace Stanback, the 6-6 forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, doesn't even have a scholarship available to give one of them, much less both of them. To have a scholarship for one of either Singler or Rose, UCLA would have to see one open up, possibly from Arron Afflalo or another player going pro after next season, or a transfer. Getting two to open up would be much more improbable, but still possible.

Jrue Holiday
The scholarship number crunch is another concern for the class of 2008 also. UCLA, if everything plays out conventionally, would have only two scholarships to give to the 2008 class, and it's already committed one to Anderson. Of course, Anderson's close friend, 6-2 shooting guard Jrue Holiday of North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, currently the #3-ranked player in the 2008 national class, has a scholarship whenever he wants one. The Bruins, though, really could use a big in the class of 2008, especially if Love goes pro after one season, which could be likely. Also, someone very likely could go pro early among Luc Mbah a Moute, Josh Shipp or even Darren Collison, which would open up another scholarship for 2008.

The most recent word is that UCLA is doing well with Holiday. His father was on campus to visit with the staff within the last few weeks, and Jrue made an appearance at the pro pick-up games in the UCLA Men's Gym last week. UCLA getting a commitment from Anderson will almost certainly help with the recruitment of Holiday, too.

Among the 2008 bigs, Luke Babbitt, the 6-8 power forward from Reno (Nev.) Galena, and Drew Gordon, the 6-8 power forward from San Jose (Calif.) Bisho Mitty, top the list. Gordon is the #10 player in the nation and Babbitt #24.

With the commitment of Anderson, many of the BRO message board denizens are speculating about whether UCLA offered Larry Drew, the 5-11 point guard from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, or Malcolm Lee, the 6-3 combo guard from Riverside (Calif.) North. Drew emerged from the summer rated slightly higher by many national scouts. It's probably safe to assume that UCLA got a sense of whether Drew would commit or not if offered a scholarship, and that Drew probably indicated he intended to wait before making his decision. Whether they did the same with Lee is, again, speculation. The difference in ability and potential between the three isn't that significant; any one of the three could emerge after two more years of high school as the better college point guard prospect, and all three are excellent, elite high-major prospects. UCLA will almost certainly continue to recruit Lee, since he could easily play either the 1 or 2 spots. It's uncertain if UCLA will continue to recruit Drew.

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