UCLA Prospects in Houston

Here's all the news, notes and speculation about UCLA recruiting from the Kingwood Classic tournament in Houston this weekend, including the lastest on Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, recruiting the 2008 class, the UCLA-recruit-heavy Pump team, a UCLA recruit having to go to the hospital and more...

We've learned at Bruin Report Online that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has been exploring the idea of putting his name in the NBA draft. Sources close to the situation doubt that he will, but it's being seriously considered.

UCLA is, indeed, still involved with Alex Legion, the 6-4 senior shooting guard from Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill Academy. It's hard to believe any of the information that comes out concerning his recruitment, since there seems to be various camps attached to Legion who provide contradictory information. We, however, have it from a reliable source that UCLA is still very much involved with Legion and that UCLA has been in contact with the Legion family recently.

Legion took an official visit to Kentucky last weekend, and the word on the Internet is that he'll visit UCLA soon, possibly this week. It appears down to Michigan, UCLA and Kentucky but, again, no information is probably reliable in this recruitment.

UCLA-committed junior point guard Jerime Anderson (6-1, Anaheim Canyon) had a very good weekend at the Kingwood Classic in Houston, following up a good showing at the Real Deal on the Hill in Arkansas two weeks ago. This is particularly significant since it was in front of Ben Howland, who has to be pretty happy with his choice to take an early commitment from Anderson, especially since it's pretty well known that, since taking the commitment from Anderson, Larry Drew (5-11, Woodland Hills Taft) very well would have committed to UCLA. Drew didn't want to make a decision early, so UCLA opted for Anderson, and it's turning out to be a very sound decision. Drew didn't play in Arkansas, but did play in Houston for Pump N Run Elite, right along side Anderson. While we are completely certain that Drew is an elite point guard prospect, he didn't have a good weekend before spraining an ankle on Sunday. Watching Pump N Run play, it wasn't hard to see that Anderson was the better point guard – at least for this weekend – and, again, that has to make UCLA quite happy.

It's still thought that UCLA would love to get Drew, but it's a matter of scholarshiip numbers.

It will be interesting to see, if Anderson continues to play the way he did, if he'll move up in national recruitng lists. He's now among the top 5-6 point guards in the country, and currently ranked #42 in the country by Scout.com's Dave Telep, but he could move quite a bit higher if he continues his stellar play. It's funny how all this works in terms of national rankings. It really comes down to if national scouts happen to be in a gym at the time when a certain player performs well, since in scouting the entire country you just don't get to see a player that often. Anderson led the Pump team to the finals of the Kingwood Classic and he did, indeed, "lead' the team, consistently being probably the best player on the team over the course of the weekend. On the final day, however, after playing four games in one day and seven over the course of 2 ½ days, Anderson, like many of the players, was exhausted and had lost his legs. He did show earlier that, to go along with his skills and savvy, he's an under-appreciated athlete. On Sunday, in A round-of-16 game, after breaking down a defender, he drove to the basket and went up quickly for a tomahawk dunk and would have completed it but was fouled. Again, with national scouts in the gym randomly, it's unknown if the national scouts saw this play or others that showed off Anderson's athleticism, particularly how he uses his good lateral quickness to be a very good on-balld defender.

Jrue Holiday, the 6-3 shooting guard from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, started out sloppy this weekend but got better as the tournament progressed. He matched up in one game against Willie Warren, the 6-4 shooting guard from Fort Worth (Tex.) North Crawley. Holiday is ranked #3 in the country and Warren is currently ranked #21, but could move up with how good he's been showing lately. It was an interesting match-up, with Warren matching Holiday in terms of strength and athleticism, and Warren probably being a better shooter. Holiday, though, is probably shiftier off the dribble and a better ball-handler. They didn't literally match up often, and you couldn't draw any kind of conclusion of who got the best of the match-up.

The word being heard is that UCLA is continuing to do better with Holiday. Washington and North Carolina, however, are also still right there for Holiday. The report that Holiday is a "done deal" for UCLA is, at the very least, premature.

It doesn't certainly hurt UCLA's chances with Holiday that he's playing on an AAU team alongside Anderson, a UCLA-committed player, and a host of UCLA recruiting targets, like sophomores Travis Wear, David Wear and Reeves Nelson.

Of course, it makes for great one-stop shopping for Ben Howland and assistant Donnie Daniels, who attended every one of the Pumps' games.

We've heard that the Wear twins are really enjoying playing on the team, that the experience of playing with such high-quality kids like Anderson, Holiday and Nelson has been great for them.

Also, in June, for the USA Basketball festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado, many of these same players have been invited to comprise the west team in an annual event that pits all-star teams from the west, east, south and north. Apparently, Holiday, Anderson, Drew, the Wears, Nelson – along with Drew Gordon, Renardo Sidney, Luke Babbitt and a couple of others – have been invited to make up the west team.

We just did a recruiting story on Reeves Nelson this morning.

Tyreese Breshers, the 6-6 power forward from Los Angeles (Calif.) Price, faced off against the Pump team in that round-of-16 game. Breshers, who carries probably 25 excessive pounds, was visibly tired, after playing so many games over the course of the weekend. Generally for the weekend he played just okay, sometimes letting the fatigue affect his play. It would be interesting to see him with the baby fat trimmed off, not just for stamina reasons, but for athleticism. He gets off the floor quickly now, and is one of the best shot blockers in the west. UCLA is watching him, attending a couple of his games this weekend. It's known that Breshers likes UCLA and would probably commit if offered. UCLA offering, however, is the issue. It's thought that UCLA probably wouldn't take Breshers as the one post they'd take in this class, wanting a 6-8+ post. However, if UCLA did get that post, and then wanted to take five prospects in the class of 2008 (that is, if they believed five scholarships would be available), it's believed Breshers could possibly be a top candidate for that fifth ride.

It's not inconceivable that UCLA gets five scholarships for 2008. As of right now, they have three. You'd have to think it's a good bet that Darren Collison could go pro after next season, as could Mbah a Moute, Josh Shipp or Kevin Love, or a scholarship could open up with a transfer. On the other hand, if UCLA gets Alex Legion with the 2007 class, it would need three more to open up from those scenarios for UCLA to have five to give for 2008, which is probably a stretch.

The main issue in all of this is UCLA has to recruit now for the 2008 class, without really knowing just how many scholarships it could have to give by next spring. If UCLA doesn't get Legion, they very well might, then, take five in the class of 2008, betting that two more would open up by the fall of 2008.

Drew Gordon, the 6-8 post from San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty, was watched by all the usual suspects in Houston, including Howland and Daniels. He played decently, but, as we said in the tournament evaluations, his team, the Oakland Soldiers doesn't give him many touches in the post. Gordon has developed some, with his back-to-the-basket game having improved, but his overall knowledge of the game still has a ways to go. Being young for his class, he definitely has some upside. It'd be interesting to see him play with a team that had smart players around him that got him the ball.

Interestingly, and just a little off-course, but it's rumored that Brandon Jennings will be leaving So Cal All-Stars to play with the Oakland Soldiers. Jennings could make the Soldiers try to run and gun and play even more out of control.

While it's thought that Gordon would jump at an offer from North Carolina, it's looking unlikely they'll offer him. The thought around recruiting circles is that Washington could be a good fit for him.

Speaking of North Carolina, the word is that they could be getting involved with Demar Derozan, the 6-5 wing from Compton who has given a soft verbal to USC. We call it soft since we spoke to him this weekend and he said he was committed but "the door was slightly open."

Both Howland and Daniels watched Derozan this weekend.

UCLA-committed Malcolm Lee, the 6-4 guard from Riverside North, played well, up until a play-off game against thePumps late Saturday night that he had to miss because of body-wide cramps. He was taken to the hospital and, apparently, was telling the nurses to get the IV done quickly so he could get back to play but, of course, IVs aren't done particularly quickly. Lee told us later that he was so dehydrated he had four bags of saline put into him at the hospital. He was in attendance at the Pumps' semi-finals and finals. His mom was decked out in a UCLA visor and UCLA t-shirt.

Howland did attend the game of Jeremy Tyler, the 6-9 freshman center from San Diego High, who played in the Under-16 division in Houston.

In fact, when Howland came in to the gym where Tyler's team, the California Supreme, was playing, Supreme was up by about 30 and Tyler was out and probably done for the game. But the Supreme coach saw Howland come in the gym and he put in Tyler so Howland could see him.

It pays to be the UCLA head coach.

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