Update on Morgan, Stepheson

It seems many UCLA basketball fans are sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting some developments over J'mison Morgan, the 6-10 high school senior center from Texas, and Alex Stepheson, the 6-9 transfer from North Carolina. Here are some tidbits of info to keep you on that edge...

As we've reported on BRO, it's looking incredibly probable that J'mison Morgan, the 6-10 center from Dallas (Tex.) South Oak Cliff, is coming to UCLA.

UCLA, as of late last week, had not received the proper paperwork to allow them to recruit Morgan. While the process isn't moving at light speed, we've heard that there might have been a snafu on LSU's end in getting the paperwork to UCLA.

We're hearing that something should happen by the end of this week.

There was a report that his former high school teammate, Darrell Arthur, a sophomore at Kansas, could have been ineligible to play during high school. While there have been some academic problems at South Oak Cliff, sources very close to the original news story on Arthur reassured us that Morgan has no academic issues.

Morgan won't be able to sign a NLI, but will sign a Grant in Aid (or Scholarship Agreement), which only binds the school and not the student athlete.

UCLA will be able to make an announcement once it's signed.

Morgan, though, will still be able to change his mind and go elsewhere until he's enrolled in class at UCLA. The earliest would probably be the summer session starting in August.

So, while it could be a bit of a nail-biter until then, if Morgan commits to UCLA it would be highly unlikely he'd go elsewhere.

As BRO also maintained for months, Alex Stepheson did indeed decide to transfer out of North Carolina last week.

Stepheson, who is from Los Angeles, having attended Studio City Harvard-Westlake, primarily wanted to leave UNC because of the health of his father.

Sources have told us that UCLA is by far his #1 preference.

Unlike when a recruit is let out of his NLI, when a college player transfers, the school he is leaving needs to grant a specific release to each school he is then considering. Sources have told us that UCLA has received Stepheson's release.

UCLA has contacted Stepheson and his family.

We've heard that Stepheson could make a decision on his destination as early as Wednesday of this week.

Stepheson, if he came to UCLA next fall, would have to sit out a year and then be eligible in the 2009-2010 season. He'd be a redshirt junior and have two years of eligibility remaining.

If UCLA does, in fact, get both Morgan and Stepheson, that would give them, officially, 15 players on scholarship for the 2009-2010 season, two over the limit of 13. Two of the players that have submitted their name for the NBA Draft would have to remain in the draft for scholarships to be available for Morgan and Stepheson.

It's believed that both Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook will stay in the draft, with Love being projected as a mid to late lottery pick, and Westbrook projected in the range from late lottery pick to 20.

Westbrook, we reported last week, received a "lottery exemption" from the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp. Such an exemption is given to the top 20 players projected in the draft, allowing them to skip participation in the camp, and it's a big indication that Westbrook would almost certainly go in the top 20 in the draft and has a good chance to be a lottery pick.

If Westbrook is projected to as a lottery pick he will stay in the draft, and it's believed by sources close to the situation he'll almost certainly stay in even if he's projected 15-20.

There was a story in the Los Angeles Times about Demar DeRozan, the top ten national wing prospect from Compton (Calif.) High indicating he might want to get out of his NLI to USC. The article cited the potential sanctions that could be handed down to the USC program as a result of the recent revelations made public about USC's O.J. Mayo as the reason DeRozan might want to get out of his USC NLI.

There have then been rumors that DeRozan is interested in going to UCLA, and that could very well be true, but there are a few issues to consider.

First, we've heard from sources that DeRozan is not academically qualified by NCAA standards yet.

Secondly, despite his brother saying in the L.A. Times story that DeRozan would cosider getting out of his NLI to USC, it's a long way from actually requesting it, and USC letting him out of it.

The premise that DeRozan might ask out of his NLI if USC gets hit with probation ignores the real-world timeline. There's no way the NCAA finishes an investigation into Mayo and comes up with penalties for USC before September when the Trojans start school. So if the Trojans aren't on probation when schools starts, is DeRozan really going to ask out of his NLI?

If UCLA gets both Morgan and Stepheson, and Love and Westbrook stay in the draft, UCLA would be out of scholarships.

We wouldn't be surprised if DeRozan, in fact, has some regrets about committing to USC and could possibly be wishing he was going to UCLA. But there are still too many roadblocks in the way to deem it as likely to happen at this point.

If Morgan and Stepheson do become Bruins, it drastically shifts UCLA's personnel needs in the 2009 and even the 2010 recruiting classes. If, indeed, the two commit to UCLA we'll do a thorough analysis of UCLA's recruiting situation.


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