Update on July Period Recruiting

With UCLA coaches traversing the country scouting, it looks like UCLA is starting to focus in on the 2009 prospects that it can reasonably project as filling its three remaining scholarship spots...

Pump Camp #2 and the Full Court Press All-West Camp concluded Sunday while the Three Stripes tournament began.

For many of the kids, it was just more basketball – playing in a camp all-star game in the morning and then in the tournament that night.

Then the Cream of the Crop tournament also starts today.

UCLA coaches have been all over the country in the last couple of days. Head Coach Ben Howland returned from the Reebok Camp in Philadelphia, spent a day at Pump Camp #2, then went to the FinalScore.TV tourney in Seattle. Assistant Scott Duncan was back at the Peach Jam in Georgia, while Donnie Daniels and Scott Garson played tag team at the local L.A. tournaments (one goes "on the road" and into a tournament, the other comes off.)

In Seattle, Howland watched Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley, as well as junior center Josh Smith.

Reports are that all three had their moments in the tournament, and Howland was one of the few head coaches at the trio's games (except, of course, for Washington's Lorenzo Romar). Smith, the 6-9 prospect from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, who is considered a top 10 national prospect in the class of 2010, is continuing to assert himself, and looked very impressive. The "Smith-to-UCLA" rumors still abound, as can be attested to by Adam Beach, the writer of Dawgman.com, Scout.com's Washington site.

It would be a considerable recruiting get for UCLA – to bring in possibly the #1 center in the nation for the 2010 class – and to get it done fairly early.

The word on Bradley is that he likes a few schools, and mentions Texas and UCLA the most. There are still lingering issues about his academics, which make UCLA's prospects with him uncertain.

In Los Angeles, Michael Snaer participated in the Full Court Press Camp Saturday and then in the Top 25 camp all-star game Sunday. Snaer started out in the all-star pressing, trying to do too much in attacking the basket, turning the ball over and missing shots. Then, he settled down some and started to create for others and was effective. Besides being a good shooter (which he actually wasn't Sunday), he is good off the dribble and particularly in passing the ball. He played point guard in the all-star game, and commonly does on his AAU team, so he's gotten very good at creating for others. Assistant Donnie Daniels was there to watch him, along with coaches from many other prominent programs who were in the steamy gym at the "Hangar" in Hawthorne.

Snaer is now slated to compete with his Inland Reebok team in the Three Stripes tournament.

At Pump Camp #2 Sunday, Tyler Honeycutt, the 6-7 wing from Sylmar (Calif.), won the MVP of the "Best of the Best" all-star game. His outside shot wasn't going down, but he did so much that was effective – particularly some beautiful passes in the open court. Honeycutt continues to develop physically, looking not as narrow through his shoulders as he did just a few months ago, and his explosiveness continues to improve as he fills out physically. Honeycutt looked just okay in the evening tournament game with his AAU team, Pump N Run Elite.

Greg Hicks wrote: Tyler Honeycutt, 6-6 SR SF Sylmar (Calif.) High. Honeycutt capped off a very impressive week with a strong showing in the West Coast All-Star Camp Best of the Best Game. Honeycutt showed his versatility in the game, as he knocked down deep jumpers, connected on a couple very nice little floaters in the lane, blocked a couple shots and showed off his terrific passing skill. Honeycutt's passing is really one of the areas that separates him from the other top small forward prospects. He's got great vision and his instincts are outstanding. With his size, shooting ability and passing skills, he's going to be deadly against a zone at the next level. He can play almost like a point forward with his skill set. He's still not yet mature physically and it'll be interesting to see how his body looks a year from now. But with continued development, he projects as one of the elite prospects nationally in the class of 2009.

The big issue going around college coaches on the west coast is: "What is UCLA going to do with Honeycutt?" A number of college coaches asked me that Sunday. It's very likely UCLA will move on Honeycutt, but are taking July to do their full scouting due dilligence. It's very likely, after Honeycutt did well at UCLA's Camp in late June, that UCLA just wanted to look around the country to gauge just how good Honeycutt is, which is pretty good. Some scouts I asked have him in the top 5 to 10 small forwards in the country. It's a matter that, for all of the west coast coaches, Honeycutt is kind of the first domino – if he goes to UCLA, many programs (like USC and ASU) will go on to the next small forward, which could send other programs onto the next small forward, etc.

Perhaps UCLA likes keeping Tim Floyd and Herb Sendek busy following Honeycutt around?

Honeycutt, in my opinion, is an elite talent, worthy of being in the top 50 players in the national class of 2009. His court vision and passing ability truly make him a special player.

I also think it's just a matter of time before UCLA offers him.

Honeycutt played alongside UCLA-committed 2010 guard Kendall Williams in both the camp all-star game and on the Pump team later Sunday night.

Williams looks to have grown a bit, looking like he's solidly 6-2, and a bit wider in his shoulders. He still doesn't really have a position – playing point guard while not really being a true point. Williams struggled a bit Sunday in both the all-star game and his team's game, still not possessing enough quickness to make defenders worry about him off the dribble.

Anthony Stover, the 6-9 center from La Canada (Calif.) Renaissance, had a solid day, in both the all-star game and in his AAU team game. Stover makes little advances every once in a while, so you have to watch him at all times. He executed a nice left-handed, 8-foot jump hook

Center prospect Anthony Stover.
and hit a mid-range jumper. His ability to move his feet on defense consistently improves, and his shot-blocking is a major force. His legs have also filled out, which is a good sign since they were pretty spindly before. UCLA coaches were at every one of his appearances Sunday.

Among the six courts at the Hangar, one was being used for the Say No Classic League and, wouldn't you know, playing Sunday was Alex Stepheson, the 6-9 post who left North Carolina. The word is that Stepheson is considering UCLA, USC and ASU, while more rumors persist that UCLA is running third on that list. We tried to speak with Stepheson but he said he wouldn't do interviews until after he chose a school. We asked him, "Is that going to be anytime soon?" and he laughed.

If UCLA doesn't get Stepheson, you can probably bet they'll offer Stover. The Bruins aren't really recruiting another center in the 2009 class at this point, still showing some residual interest in Daniel Orton, the 6-9 center from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Bishop McGuiness, but he's always been a bit of a long shot and had some academic issues.

If they don't get Stepheson, they'll have a total of five scholarships to give. Of course, Reeves Nelson, the 6-7 forward from Modesto (Calif.) Christian, and Brendan Lane, the 6-8 forward from Rocklin (Calif.) High, have already verbally committed to UCLA, so that would leave them three open spots. Two are ear-marked for a shooting guard and a small forward, and the fifth would be for center.

UCLA appears to be tightening its focus a bit on the players it can reasonably expect to fill those spots. It spent the spring, and the first half of the July evaluation period, seeing what was out there nationally, and comparing it to what talent is on the west coast. As we said, if UCLA doesn't get Stepheson, it's easy to see them move on Stover for the scholarship ear-marked for a center. It's then easy to see them move on Honeycutt, who would give them the good-shooting, play-making small forward they haven't had in quite a while. Compared to the small forwards nationally, UCLA has probably discovered that Honeycutt holds up well, and possibly even better than many of the small forward prospects commonly ranked ahead of him. That would leave a scholarship ear-marked for the shooting guard position, and it appears that Snaer is developing into the guy most likely to fill it. The word is that UCLA is doing well with Snaer, but it will be interesting to see what schools emerge as UCLA's primary competition. UNLV, Cal and Missouri had previously been the schools Snaer was considering seriously but we have to believe that others will be getting involved since Snaer has been blowing up nationally.

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