July Evaluation Period Kicks Off

The UCLA coaching staff is dispersed back east watching UCLA prospects participate in various events this week. It's the first time in front of the staff for UCLA-committed Brendan Lane in a while, and a few other new names could be added to UCLA's list for 2009...

The first July recruiting evaluation period for basketball kicked off Sunday, July 6th.

Coaching staffs were allowed three coaches out, and UCLA's staff had Head Coach Ben Howland and assistant Donnie Daniels in Cnicinnati, Ohio, for the Adidas It Takes 5 tournament, and Scott Duncan just down the road a bit in Akron, Ohio, for the LeBron James Skills Academy. Howland will head to Akron for James, and then on to Philadelphia for the Reebok Camp by mid-week.

The first round of events, which have the coaches back east, ends on the 9th. Then they'll spend more man hours in Los Angeles, at the Pump Camp #2 in Dominguez Hills, and the All-West Camp in Hawthorne. By July 14th, the primary events for UCLA will be the Adidas 3 Stripes tournament in Dominguez Hills and the Cream of the Crop tournament in Hawthorne. They will, of course, be at other national events across the country during that period seeing prospects that don't attend those two west coast events.

The Pump N Run #1 team is the primary team of interest for UCLA, especially in the local Adidas events, since it features many UCLA prospects. Pump #1, however, dropped out of the It Takes 5 tournament in Cincy this week. Many of its players showed up to play in the Pump Camp #1 instead. The camp, which coincides every year with the big national camps, doesn't usually have much more than a handful of some mid- and low-major recruits. But yesterday, Tyler Honeycutt, the 6-7 wing from Sylmar that UCLA is recruiting, participated. He, of course, was dominant Sunday, looking like Ralph Sampson comparatively to the usual level of Pump #1 campers. It's interesting that, since Pump #1 dropped out of It Takes 5, and Honeycutt was a late-add to the Pump #1 camp, there isn't a UCLA coach in Los Angeles watching him. Honeycut is coming off a good performance at the recent UCLA camp, and what develops between him and UCLA, like a scholarship offer, will greatly depend on how he does the rest of July in front of UCLA coaches. It wouldn't have been much of a showcase in front of UCLA coaches anyway for Honeycutt since the Pump #1 camp isn't going to give him much competition. It will be interesting to see if Honeycutt participates in the Pump Camp #1 all-star game on the 9th, which should draw a UCLA coach or two.

Other UCLA prospects of interest participating in Pump Camp #1 are Allen Crabbe, Kyle Caudill, and freshman-to-be point guard Josiah Turner from Sacramento.

The main focus left for Howland in Cincy is Brendan Lane, the 6-8 post from Rocklin, Calif., who recently verbally committed to UCLA. Lane, who has been out with an injury for a while, will be performing in front of Howland for the first time since last winter with his high school team. Josh Smith, the 6-9 2010 center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood is also in Cincy with his Seattle Rotary AAU team in Cincy. Also, the Pump #2 team is in Cincy, which features Anthony Stover, the 6-9 center from La Canada Renaissance.

With the #1 Pump team home in Los Angeles, it simply takes a great deal of the UCLA prospects off the court across the country between July 6th and July 9th.

In Akron, there were just 7 west coast players total, and a handful of UCLA recruits overall.

Daniel Orton, the 6-9 center from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Bishop McGuinness, the #3-ranked center in the country, reportedly is still rusty from a recent injury. Noel Johnson, the 6-6 wing from Fayetteville (Georgia) Fayette County, who UCLA has had some interest in, reportedly played well. Xavier Henry, the #1 shooting guard in the country from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam, is also playing with an injured ankle. UCLA has shown interest but it is apparently a Memphis/Kansas battle for him.

Solomon Hill, the 6-6 wing from Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, had a good first day in Akron, which will probably get UCLA on him more.

There are a couple of other guys that performed well in Akron that it wouldn't be surprising to see UCLA get involved with. There is Roger Franklin, the 6-5 small forward from Duncanville (Tex.) High, the #46-ranked player in the nation. Franklin's shot has a ways to go, but he does many other things particularly well, including playing incredibly hard. Rodney Williams, the 6-6 wing from New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Copper, the #57-ranked player in the nation, is an explosive leaper with a good shot that has caught the eye of many coaches.

The UCLA coaches will get their first glance at Michael Snaer, the 6-4 shooting guard from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, at the Reebok Camp. His AAU team, Inland, is then listed to participate in the Three Stripes tourney in L.A.

Lance Stephenson, the 6-5 wing from Brooklyn (New York) Lincoln, is spending the first week of the evaluation period in Georgetown trying out for the U-18 USA basketball team. Also of note is the fact that incoming UCLA freshman, Malcolm Lee, is also a finalist for this team, which would make it his third USA team. According to reports, Lee is playing very well.

Reeves Nelson, the 6-7 forward from Modesto (Calif.) Christian who is verbally committed to UCLA, tried out for the team, but dropped out after the first day due to his lingering ankle injury. According to his father, he won't participate in any summer basketball, citing the ankle as the reason Nelson has looked a bit less explosive and quick this spring and summer.

It's pretty interesting that former UCLA prospect, Hollis Thompson, was cut from the team, while his future college coach, John Thompson III of Georgetown, is working as the squad's assistant coach.

On another recruiting front, we're hearing that the news on Alex Stepheson, the 6-9 post who left North Carolina at the end of the year, is that there really isn't any news. Stepheson is still considering UCLA, USC, and Arizona State, and the word is that ASU could be stronger with him than many think.

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