UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland was in attendance late Monday before catching a flight to Philadelphia for the Reebok U camp. UCLA assistant Scott Duncan returned from Philly to be at the LeBron camp until the end while Donnie Daniels was in Philly.
There were a few UCLA-related developments, and just not from the LeBron camp.
First, here's a look at the UCLA prospects at LeBron:
Hollis Thompson, the 6-6 junior wing from Los Angeles Loyola, did well overall at the camp, even though his style of play doesn't suit this environment. Foolish Thompson wants to pass the ball. He had to lead the camp in feeding the post, and I would bet, if stats had been kept, was among the assist leaders. There were so many times Thompson passed and cut to the basket but his teammate didn't look his way. He had one of the best and quickest strokes in the tournament, too. We're hearing that Duke could be on the verge of offering Thompson a scholarship. UCLA coaches watched every one of Thompson's games. We'll have a recruiting update on Thompson coming later.
Jeremy Tyler, the 6-9 sophomore center from San Diego (Calif.) High, was among probably the top 5-7 post players at the camp, which is saying something since this camp was loaded with elite post players. He did well taking the ball in deep against bigger and older ;posts, and then showed his touch from the outside. The performance cemented him as one of the top 10 players in the national class of 2010.
Travis Wear and David Wear, the 6-9 juniors from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, played solidly over the course of the camp. They generally shot well from the outside, made that extra pass and played fundamentally sound, which stands out in this environment. Occasionally they'd post up and use their quickness on the block to score, and you continue to wonder why they don't post up more but play on the perimeter. If fact, in the camp directory, players were defined as a POINT, WING or BIG, and they were classified as wings. The now-accepted thought on the Wears among scouts and college coaches is: "Yeah, they're talented, and fundamentally sound, but when are they going to get to their real position in the post?" We could be making too much of this -- that when they get to their college program they will be post players. But it'd be good to see them play in the post in these environments. David has seemed to edge ahead of Travis in terms of their game. Ben Howland watched either twin play at every opportunity.
UCLA-committed Drew Gordon, the 6-9 senior post from San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty, didn't play due to his broken hand. He told us Monday that he's heading back home to get it x-rayed again.
Ralph Sampson, 6-10 senior center from Huntsville (Ala.) Butler, had his best day of the camp Monday, being far more active around the basket, particularly in rebounding. It was good enough to probably make the UCLA coaches continue to watch him throughout July. He still is fairly passive, and when he went up against the best posts in the camp they more or less had their way with him. It's a matter of trying to project how good Sampson could be, say, after a redshirt year. Will he continue to develop like he has in the last year?
Xavier Gibson, the 6-9 senior center from Dothan (Ala.) Northview, was not aggressive throughout the camp, and didn't do much. He has the athleticism and length, but didn't display it much. We'll see if UCLA continues to scout him.
Daniel Orton, the 6-9 junior center from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Bishop McGuinness, was one of the best junior posts at LeBron, and was very impressive, as we said in our first report on the camp. You can expect UCLA to make an effort to recruit him.
We've heard some things from the Reebok U camp in terms of UCLA's post recruiting.
J'mison Morgan, the 6-9 senior from Dallas (Tex.) South Oak Cliff, who sat out one day with an injury at Reebok, told Scout.com's Dave Telep that he's trimmed his list to five schools: Kansas, Texas, Baylor, Alabama and UCLA. He said, "It'll be about the relationship I have with the players and coaches." Official visits are next on his agenda.
UCLA is scouting Festus Ezeli, the 6-9, 250-pounder from Nigeria who is now from the Sacramento area. Ezeli is an interesting story, coming to the U.S. when he was 14, and being able to graduate from high school early because of his academic acumen. Now 17, he has been taking JC classes just to keep his education progressing. Apparently he achieved an SAT score that would get him into UCLA as a regular student. He had been recruited by some schools as part of the 2007 class, but still could go to prep school for a year to develop his game. He reportedly is a big body and athletic, but very raw. He attended Cal's camp, and others are also looking at him.
Assane Sene, the 6-9 senior from South Kent (Conn.) High, is someone UCLA is also watching, even though he got hurt at Reebok. Sene is from Senegal and showed flashes at the NBA Players Camp in June.
Olek Cyyz, the 6-7 senior post from Reno (Nev.) High, came to UCLA's Camp for a couple of hours and was impressive. A great athlete, he just started getting high major attention this spring. UCLA could look seriously at him if they don't get a traditional five type.
Other West Coast Players of Note at LeBron:
Demar DeRozan, the 6-6 senior forward from Compton (Calif.) High who now says he's a solid verbal to USC, was one of the few best – and most consistent – players at the camp. DeRozan was probably the most effective finisher, and combine that with an amazingly improved jumper, and more or less good decision-making, and you have a great prospect.
Brad Tinsley, 6-4 senior guard, Oregon City (Ore.) High, was very impressive all camp. He probably was among the few best decision-makers here, very rarely making a mistake. He's deceptive quick, able to get to the basket with a good burst and strength and convert. And then there's that shot. He was truly among the few best shooters in Akron. There might be a question of what guard position he plays, possibly struggling to guard high-major point guards, but that is just a small issue of labeling. If Tinsley's one of the guys in your backcourt you should be happy. California has offered, and he's also seriously considering Pepperdine.
D.J. Seeley, the 6-3 senior guard from Modesto (Calif.) Christian who is committed to Cal, showed flashes of talent – a good outside shot, and some very good quickness, particularly in finishing. He was also out of control at times. If Seeley decides to play within a team concept, he truly has the talent to be an elite college player.
Jordan Hamilton, the 6-6 small forward from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, had a bit of a different reaction to the me-first environment of camp like this. Hamilton is a talented player who has generally looked for his shot first, in AAU or high school ball. But in this place, where everyone is looking for their shot first, Hamilton passed the ball. Well, he passed the ball more than we're used to seeing him do. Perhaps he realized that in a talent-laden camp like this there are other guys who can play, too? Don't get this wrong – Hamilton didn't suddenly turn into John Stockton, but he did feed the post consistently and look for teammates cutting to the basket. When he does that he becomes such a better player. He did take some ill-advised shots, but it was encouraging to see him want to play more in a team concept. He also was more involved as a rebounder than we had seen him; before he tended to cherry pick. Hopefully this trend for him can continue the rest of July.
Matt Simpkins, 6-8 post from Berkeley (Calif.) High, also responded a little more unselfishly to such a selfish environment. Simpkins usually doesn't make good decisions, but there were stretches in his play where he did here. He did, too, have games where he jacked it up from the outside too often or tried to be a WING. As of right now, it's undetermined whether Simpkins will be part of the 2007 or 2008 class, and it's a good assumption he'll be going to prep school next year. Cal is seriously considering Simpkins.