It appears that UCLA is running out of guard prospects.
The word is that Michael Snaer, the 6-4 shooting guard from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, doesn't have a great amount of interest in UCLA. UCLA, in fact, might be backing away from him also.
UCLA probably won't offer a scholarship to Matt Vogrich, the 6-3 prospect from Lake Forest (Ill.) High.
We continue to hear that it will be very hard for Elijah Johnson, the 6-2 guard from Las Vegas (Nev.) Cheyenne, to qualify. It's regrettable, since Johnson really showed why he is considered one of the best guard prospects in the country Thursday, looking extremely good.
It's pretty certain that Avery Bradley, the 6-2 elite guard from Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep, won't get past UCLA admissions. It's also highly regrettable, since Bradley also showed why he's considered one of the best guard prospects in the nation Thursday, going off for 40 points in a game.
So, who's left?
Anthony Marshall. The 6-2 guard from Las Vegas Mojave looks to be emerging as UCLA's big – and lone – shooting guard target. UCLA has yet to offer him, and they might take another week of viewing him at the Best of Summer Tournament in Los Angeles before they make any move on him.
But Marshall is clearly the best "fit" at this time.
He is easily one of the toughest, and hardest-playing prospects we've seen this July. Marshall is such a Ben Howland type of player – always playing with intensity and passion.
Friday in his second game of the day, after he went through a sequence of getting two offensive rebounds, fighting a few bigs on the opposing team for them, then forcing a turnover on the in-bound and having to get on the floor and wrestling to do it, Marshall got up and was practically hyper-ventilating he had pushed himself with such extreme effort. His coach sent in a sub and Marshall went to the sideline, having played himself literally to exhaustion.
He was back in the game, however, within a couple of minutes.
The lefty isn't a great shooter, streaky at best. Offensively, he's best creating off the dribble, with a good handle and good first step. He has good quickness and explosive hops and is able to finish around the basket among bigger defenders. He's also very good at penetrating and dishing to a teammate. From what we've seen, he's one of the best defenders in the nation as a guard, and often times skying above the rim and beating much taller players for rebounds.
He obviously takes pride in his defense, putting in as much effort on the defensive end as he does offensively. He's just not intense, but quick-footed and plays very physically.
His effort level, also, is infectious. His team, the Las Vegas Prospects, have fed off him, and play at his level of intensity – similar to how UCLA fed off of Arron Afflalo's defensive effort. His AAU teammate, Elijah Johnson, might have had his best two days in AAU ball ever this week, and it has to be due in part to Johnson taking his effort to a new level playing alongside Marshall.
We talked about Marshall being a "glue" type of guy, but he's more of a Super Glue type. He's the kind of player whose presence could single-handedly change the environment of a program.
This sounds like a lot of hype, but Marshall is deserving.
Given this, it still isn't certain UCLA will offer him a scholarship. Whether they do or not, I had to go on record and say that Anthony Marshall is my personal favorite player of the summer because of everything he brings to the court. There are more talented players, but none at the elite high-major level who impact the game as much as he does with his effort.
If UCLA does offer, they might be able to use an "in" they have with Marshall, with Howland having actually coached Marshall's high school coach when he was at Santa Barbara.
And by the way, Marshall is an honor student.
We are hearing that UCLA is still trying with Noel Johnson, the elite 6-6 guard from Fayetteville (Georgia) Fayette County, and they're getting some interest in return, but we still consider him a longshot.
But that, right now, is it in terms of shooting guards.
The most dramatic news Friday for UCLA fans was the Pump N Run Elite team playing in the quarterfinal of the Super 64 tourney. They were winning by about 10 points with a couple of minutes left, but in typical AAU fashion, they gave the game away. It happens all the time in summer ball and is mind-blowing: A team will have a win seemingly in hand. With no shot clock, all they have to do is maintain possession, but they go against all logic and jack up the ball, and the other team takes advantage and threatens them. Seattle Rotary did it earlier Friday, and lost. So, the Pumps were in the same situation, playing against the New England Playaz, and they let the Playaz back in the game, going ahead on two free-throws with 4 seconds left. The Pumps inbounded the ball to UCLA-committed junior guard Kendall Williams, who proceeded to go the length of the court in Tyus Edney-like fashion, to hit a runner in the key for the buzzer-beating win.
The next biggest drama Friday was the complete blowing up of Tony Wroten, the 6-4 sophomore guard from Seattle (Wash.) Garfield. From what we've seen, Wroten had the game of Vegas Friday, looking absolutely spectacular offensively. He created off the dribble, he hit jump shots all over the court, and he finished high above the rim. In fact, in one play, he drove the baseline and went up, with two opposing bigs between him and the basket. He double-clutched, seemingly hanging in the air for a couple of minutes, and slammed it with considerable force. It was one of those recruiting event moments where all the scouts turn to each other with their jaw on the ground.
He's going to be among the top three players ranked in the national class of 2011, if not #1. He'll have every major elite program after him. We've heard that UCLA will be on the short list, but it could be a matter of him wanting to stay close to home at Washington to do his intended "one-and-done."
Playing on the Seattle Rotary team with him is Josh Smith, the 6-9 2010 center, who continues to prove he's an elite prospect. Smith is a big boy, weighing probably 280 pounds, and needs to trim up. It's scary to think how good he potentially can be when he's carrying less weight. But even at the weight he is now, he's so nimble and quick off the floor. He also has the best pair of hands for a big man that we've seen since, well, Kevin Love.
We've heard that UCLA is scouting Kyryl Natyazhko, a 6-10, 250-pound center originally from Ukranian who plays at Bradenton (Flor.) IMG Academy. We haven't seen him, and this week he's playing in the Nike Super Showcase in Orlando, but we've heard he's a big, bruising type that plays physically and hard. In other words, a guy you could see Howland liking quickly.
This is what Scout.com's Dave Telep wrote about Natyazkho earlier this month at an event:
The Ukrainian-born center has been in the States only half a season. The last foreign big man his AAU team featured was Siberian Sasha Kaun and he turned out to be pretty tough. This 6-foot-10 center is a bull inside and Top 100 caliber prospect. Lots to like in terms of overall skill and his down-to-earth approach to the game is refreshing.
UCLA is very much still in the hunt for Anthony Stover, the 6-9 center from La Canada Renaissance. His Double Pump team was eliminated from the Super 64 Friday, so the UCLA coaches won't see Stover until Sunday when he plays in the Best in the West in L.A.
UCLA-committed Brendan Lane from Rocklin (Calif.) High and his EBO team were also eliminated Friday. Lane, after having sat out for months due to an injury, and then playing with the Adidas Nations team, is only now starting to round back in to form.
Regardless of his lack of production in these types of events, Lane still has tremendous upside because of his size, quickness for his size, and skill level, mostly needing to get stronger to be able to play at the next level. EBO will be in the Best of Summer.
UCLA's Howland was off the road Friday, having to spend time at UCLA's camp back on campus, which allowed assistant Scott Garson to make an appearance, while assistant Scott Duncan was in Orlando for the Super Showcase.
In addition to the players mentioned above, the UCLA coaches also watched Indiana Elite, which features Stephan Van Treese, the senior forward, and Ray McCallum, the junior guard who has mentioned interest in UCLA. They also watched Zach Peters, a 6-7 sophomore power forward from Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian, who came to the UCLA camp for a day.