Latest on UCLA Hoops Recruiting

With so much up in the air over UCLA's roster for next season, the Bruins are kind of in a wait-and-see mode in terms of any additions to the 2008 recruiting class. Here are some of the possibilities, as well as some recent tidbits on the class of 2009...

If UCLA is going to add another recruit to the class of 2008, it could be a matter of a waiting game.

The Bruins are waiting to see exactly how many scholarships they actually have available for the 2008-2009 season.

Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute all announced they would put their name into the NBA Draft. It's expected, also, that Darren Collison and Josh Shipp will do so. The deadline to put your name in is Sunday.

But, after that, it's impossible to foresee exactly who will in the draft. The staff can speculate, but it's difficult to proceed in terms of filling out a roster for next seaon if you don't know how many spots you have to fill.

It's generally accepted that Love will not return. It's entirely uncertain what Westbrook will do. Some NBA insiders believe he'll stay in the draft and, if you had to bet, that might be where the smart money is. But still, anything can happen.

It's completely uncertain what will happen with Collison. With some recent additions of point guards to the draft, it conceivably has moved Collison down some notches, possibly into the second round, by some NBA insiders' estimates.

Mbah a Moute, at this point, is thought at best to be a low second-round pick. While every source believes Shipp wouldn't be drafted, he very well could opt to leave school and play overseas.

We have heard from some sources that Alfred Aboya, as of now, intends to return to UCLA.

We've also heard that Nikola Dragovic intends to return to UCLA.

So, if UCLA loses just Love, given the four incoming freshmen, they would have a full roster of 13. If they lose one more, they would have one scholarship to give.

It's probable that UCLA loses one more among Westbrook, Collison, Mbah a Moute, or Shipp. But it's conceivable they don't.

So, like we said at the top, UCLA is truly in a waiting game – at least until it gets a better indication as to the futures of these four players.

The possible additions to the team for next season are these:

J'mison Morgan, the 6-10 center who has signed a NLI with LSU. While there have been reports that Morgan will stick with his commitment to LSU, we've heard the door is still ajar. If Morgan did, in fact, get his release from LSU and wanted to come to UCLA, the Bruins almost assuredly would take his commitment without any consideration for scholarship numbers and figure it out later. Morgan is that good.

Frank Ben-Eze, the 6-10 Nigerian center playing at Alington (Virg.) Bishop O'Connell. The word is that UCLA could get an official visit from Ben-Eze. He could be a right fit for UCLA – a big, strong, athlete who plays hard and rebounds, and has good academics.

Malcolm Thomas, 6-8 forward, transfer from Pepperdine. Thomas came to UCLA's campus for an unofficial visit recently. Thomas is thought to be a promising player, with good athleticism, but he's probably a power forward, a position UCLA has filled pretty well for the next several years. It will be interesting to see, if UCLA does have an open scholarship and Thomas is perhaps the only option left, if UCLA does, in fact, take him. Remember, a transfer would have to sit out a year before becoming eligible so Thomas couldn't help the team next season.

Ater Majok, 6-9 center, Carlingford (Australia) American International School. UCLA still has an iron in the fire, but it's a longshot. The Bruins are trying to get an official visit.

There could also be the possibility of other transfers.

Assistant Coach Donnie Daniels was in Spain the last several days, scouting Phil Wait, the 7-0 center originally from England who has been playing in Gran Canaria, Spain, for the last season.

UCLA also looked at a JC player, 6-9 center Josh Harrellson, from Southwestern Illinois College.

It, however, looks unlikely that UCLA will seriously recruit either.

In terms of the 2009 class, this weekend is another opportunity for the UCLA coaches to see prospects in action.

The primary tournaments for UCLA will be: The Pump tournament in Las Vegas; the two tournaments in Dallas (Next Level and Texas Spring Shootout); the Pearland Texas Classic in Houston, and the King James Classic in Akron, Ohio.

The Pump teams, which feature many UCLA prospects (Reeves Nelson, Kendall Williams, Tyler Lamb, Anthony Stover) will be playing in Las Vegas.

UCLA coaches will almost certainly be in Houston to see Renardo Sidney, the 6-9 center from Los Angeles Fairfax, playing with the L.A. Dream Team.

You can expect the coaches to be in Dallas to check out the two elite prospects, Daniel Orton, the 6-9 center, and Xavier Henry, the 6-5 wing, who play together for the AAU team, Athletes First.

Greg Smith, the 6-8 center from Fresno (Calif.) Edison, who usually plays with the Oakland Soldiers, isn't expected to play in a tournament this weekend. UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland was on Edison's campus to check out Smith Thursday. Smith has really improved and, as we've maintained for a long time, if he can get academically qualified you can expect him to be one of UCLA's top priorities.

We've also heard that UCLA has been trying to get involved with Jon Hood, a 6-6 sharpshooter from Madisonville (Kent.) North Hopkins.

A player UCLA could also begin to consider more seriously is Avery Bradley, the very athletic 6-3 shooting guard from Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep. He claims scholarship offers from the entire Pac-10, except UCLA and Stanford, as well as Kentucky, Kansas, and Kansas State.


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