Head Coach Ben Howland spent the first two days of the evaluation period in Cincinnati for the Adidas It Takes 5 tournament. Reportedly, his committed player, 6-8 power forward Brandon Lane from Rocklin (Calif.) High, played well in the event. That was key, since Howland actually hadn't seen Lane play in quite a while. Lane had been offered a scholarship during his high school junior season, but had sat out for the last few months due to an injury. The first event he participated in was the workouts of the Adidas Nations teams, which were conducted at UCLA last month, which, ironically, the coaches couldn't watch. After being on UCLA's campus for a day, Lane verbally committed, but it wasn't until the It Takes 5 that Howland had seen Lane play in some time.
In the same event, Anthony Stover, the 6-9 center from La Canada (Calif.) Renaissance, also played well.
This comes from Scout.com's Evan Daniels on Stover:
Anthony Stover, C, Double Pump Elite – Stover, who is a long and lean big man, was as active as we've ever seen him on Monday. The 6-foot-10, 210-pounder used his length to swat shots inside, and offensively he showd some things like when he faced up a defender and knocked down a 15-footer.
Stover, as we've written before, would be a great fit for UCLA, which needs a center in the 2009 class, one who could come in behind J'mison Morgan and develop and then take over in a couple of years. Stover is really the perfect guy, with very good academics. Stover has been to UCLA's campus a number of times, and pretty recently. UCLA has yet to offer him, but it's significant that Stover had a good showing at It Takes 5 in front of Howland.
Also, in terms of UCLA, the next most significant development to come out of the It Takes 5 tourney was the further blowing up of Josh Smith, the 6-9 junior center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood.
This is what Daniels wrote:
Josh Smith, C, Seattle Rotary Select – Dominates. That's the best word to describe how Smith played in a game against Indiana Elite One. Although Smith fouled out he certainly left his mark on the game, as he went for 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. He uses his huge frame to grab rebounds and is active defensively. Offensively he scored at will and is tough to keep out of the paint. The 2010 class has some quality big man and Smith is certainly right there amongst the best."
UCLA has had Smith, who the Bruins have offered, at the top of their 2010 wish list for some time, and there were some rumors that UCLA was leading for him.
Daniels also wrote:
Josh Smith said he's hearing from the entire Pac 10, Kansas, Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville, Tennessee and Indiana. He had a number of head coaches at his afternoon game including Ben Howland, Bruce Pearl, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Billy Gillispie, Rick Barnes, Buzz Williams and Lorenzo Romar.
We've heard, in fact, that Duke is going to make a hard run at Smith.
Howland then joined assistant Scott Duncan in Akron, Ohio, for the LeBron James Skills Academy Tuesday.
It was significant that Howland was in attendance for the game of Solomon Hill, the 6-6 small forward from Los Angeles Fairfax. Hill has been playing well this spring and garnering some new, high-major attention. UCLA had, as of recently, been showing Hill interest. Hill, however, didn't play well in front of Howland at LeBron Tuesday It, of course, was one performance, but in July there are just a few opportunities sometimes to impress coaches.
Howland, today, is at the Reebok Camp in Philadelphia. Reports from that camp are that Michael Snaer, the 6-4 shooting guard from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, has been playing particularly well. UCLA has offered Snaer, and he's been up to campus a couple of times in the last month or so. He didn't attend the UCLA camp since he had attended the Cal camp the day before and had suffered a minor injury. The word is that UCLA is looking like it's making Snaer a top priority at the shooting guard spot for the 2009 class.
Snaer told Scout.com's Dave Telep in Philadelphia that USC, UCLA, Arizona, Stanford, Marquette, Florida State, Florida and Missouri are the schools on him.
Avery Bradley, the 6-2 prospect from Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine, is the other player UCLA covets, but his academic situation could be an issue, and the fact that the package deal with Abdul Gaddy, the elite point guard who is also his high school and AAU teammate, could steer him away from UCLA. The Bruins are recruiting Gaddy, but the two could find another program that perhaps has a clear swath toward much more early playing time for both of them.
Here's what Telep had to say about Bradley at the Reebok Camp:
Avery Bradley, SG – Competitor. One of the hottest names at Reebok delivered the goods with his intense drives and crisp jump shot. Others should see how tight he is with his dribble. Confidently explodes into his jump shot and is a serious threat to pull it anywhere inside the arc. You appreciate his feel for the game as he works the seams to find room to operate. Top 25 and there to stay.
Bradley indicated to Telep that Texas and UCLA were in good standing with him.
There is also a recent report from the Press-Enterprise quoting Gaddy's father, Abdul Gaddy, Sr., speaking positively about UCLA.
Xavier Henry, the #1-ranked shooting guard in the nation from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam, is also a consideration, albeit it an iffy one. UCLA is, of course, pursuing Henry, but the word is that he's going to choose between Kansas or Memphis. There was a rumor Henry was going to announce soon for either, but Henry refuted that.
Yesterday, Scout.com's Eric Bossi did an interview with Henry in which he talked about it all:
In the interview he says it was just a rumor, that Kansas and Memphis lead, but he wants to unofficially visit UCLA and Texas before he makes a decision.
As we've maintained, we consider Henry a long shot for the Bruins.
UCLA's priority for quite some time has been bigs, and it still is. But with the commitment of J'mison Morgan in the incoming class, and now Brendan Lane to go along with Reeves Nelson, the focus has turned a bit more to wings.
UCLA has to be doing "what-if" scenarios about incoming freshman Jrue Holiday. The theory is – if Russell Westbrook can be the fourth pick in the NBA Draft, Holiday has a significant chance of also being a lottery pick after just one season at UCLA. We believe that Holiday, right now, is a better prospect than Westbrook. So, UCLA has to seriously factor in that Holiday is one-and-done, and it suddenly isn't as stocked in the backcourt as it seemed.
In the 2009-2010 season, it would have Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee as sophomores and senior Mike Roll, but, as we've stated previously, that would be it. Three guards on the roster. So, guards and wings have become a top priority for 2009.
Besides Snaer, Henry and Bradley, there are some other backcourt names.
As we reported, UCLA is doing well with Shawn Williams, the 6-6 wing from Duncanville (Tex.) High, who is ranked #48 in the country by Scout.com. UCLA has yet to offer Williams, but the word out of Texas is that the Bruins could be Williams' leader. Here's the most recent update in the Scout.com network on him: Williams Interview
As we reported, UCLA was watching Rodney Franklin, the 6-5 wing who is the #49-ranked player in the nation and from the same high school as Shawn Williams, Duncanville; and Rodney Williams, the 6-6 wing from New Hope (Minn.) Robbinsdale Cooper, ranked #57 in the 2009 class. Both have been impressive, but we're hearing that there could be a snag with Williams' academics.
The other wing of particular interest is, of course, Tyler Honecutt, the 6-7 prospect from Sylmar (Calif.) High. Honeycutt attended the UCLA Camp in late June, where he performed well in front of Howland, which helped his chances of garnering a scholarship offer. It was believed that the coaching staff wanted to see Honeycutt a bit more in July before deciding.
Honeycutt's AAU team, Pump N Run Elite, dropped out of It Takes 5 in Cincy, so the last few days Honecutt has been playing in the Pump Camp #1 at Dominguez Hills, a camp that is traditionally not too talent-rich. Here's Greg Hick's review of the first day of the camp: Pump Camp #1, Day 1
With UCLA's coaches committed to other events across the country, they haven't yet been able to attend the Pump Camp to watch Honeycutt. Coaches from ASU and USC, however, have been at Pump Camp #1 to see Honeycutt. ASU has been following Honeycutt around at camp. The first day head coach Herb Sendek was tracking Honeycutt's every move and Monday assistant Scott Pera was on hand to watch Honeycutt.
UCLA assistant Scott Garson is expected to be at the Pump Camp #1 today to watch the all-star games.
The word is that Honeycutt is waiting to see if UCLA offers, and, if they do, it's pretty certain he'll commit. But ASU and USC are there to scoop him up if the Bruins don't offer.
We'll have video of Honeycutt at the UCLA camp later today...