More Tidbits as July Winds Down

Most college coaches are now in "babysitting" mode -- that is, watching their most-prized recruits in every game they play. UCLA has one player it's specifically following around the gyms of the Best of Summer tournament, and we have more bits of info...

At this time of July, college coaches have pretty much recognized their targets (they better have), and are now doing what is called "baby-sitting."

That's watching every game of their most-prized target, which lets him know that they love him.

This is what UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland has been doing this week with Tyler Honeycutt, the 6-7 small forward from Sylmar (Calif.) High. Howland has been to every one of the Pump N Run Elite's games, specifically to show Honeycutt UCLA love.

Honeycutt has been performing well at the Best of Summer tournament at Loyola Marymount this week. His Pump team played against the Pump Power team, which consists of some younger promising prospects (and potential UCLA prospects) in the L.A. area. Honeycutt got about eight blocks, going against players that have worked out with him and even know he's a shot blocker. He put on an all-around show, which I'm sure makes Howland want to get the kid up to UCLA's campus as quickly as possible when the Evaluation Period ends July 31st and try to get him to commit. We've heard that Honeycutt, in fact, intends to visit UCLA's campus this weekend.

Howland didn't have a chance in the first couple of days of the Best of Summer to watch Anthony Marshall, the 6-2 guard from Las Vegas (Nev.) Mojave, since his team, the Las Vegas Prospects, played at the same time as Pump N Run. But Tuesday both teams were playing on adjacent courts and Howland sat relatively in between the two, while UCLA assistant Scott Duncan watched just the Prospects game and Marshall played well. Marshall had a monster right-handed (he's left-handed) dunk in the game the UCLA coaches were watching.

It will be interesting to see if UCLA offers Marshall in August.

At this point, there are a limited amount of guard possibilities out there for UCLA. There is still Noel Johnson, the 6-6 prospect from Fayetteville (Georgia) Fayette County, the #34-ranked player in the nation, who indicated recently that UCLA, Georgia Tech and Louisville are the three main competitors for him, but that's changed. We're told now that he'll come to Los Angeles to visit both UCLA and USC, and that Wake Forest and Florida State will probably get visits. Johnson, at this point, is still considered more of a longshot for UCLA.

Elijah Johnson, the 6-1 combo guard from Las Vegas Cheyenne, really showed well playing with the Prospects in the Super 64 in Las Vegas last week. For many, he solidified his top-25 national ranking. The problem is still academics, and it's still believed it's going to be hard to get him qualified by NCAA standards, much less those of UCLA. Johnson only played in Las Vegas during July since he was attending summer school in town.

Avery Bradley, the 6-2 guard from Tacoma (Wash.) Bellarmine Prep, is among UCLA's most coveted prospects but he, too, has academic issues that might preclude him from coming to UCLA. In the Best of Summer, Howland has watched the Northwest Panthers, which features Bradley and Abdul Gaddy, the 6-3 elite point guard also from Bellarmine Prep. UCLA will continue to recruit the two since they are too good until either there is a definitive word on Bradley's academics and/or Gaddy makes a decision. It's still believed Gaddy is leaning pretty clearly toward Arizona.

We know we've told you about a number of guard prospects UCLA has looked into and then it didn't go much further than that. That's the way recruiting goes, and you're getting a glimpse of it in our coverage. In fact, another prospect UCLA is looking into is Durand Scott, the 6-5 shooting guard from New York (New York) Rice, the #27-ranked player in the nation.

So, in terms of offering Anthony Marshall, it will be interesting to see if UCLA considers doing it in August, or decides to wait, to possibly see what might happen with Johnson, Bradley and Gaddy.

UCLA coaches watched Anthony Stover, the 6-9 center from La Canada (Calif.) Renaissance, a number of times this week.

UCLA is also showing interest in Kyryl Natyazhko, the 6-10 bruiser center from Brandenton (Fla.) IMG Academy.

Howland, curiously, was also in attendance watching the game of Mater Dei, which features David Wear and Travis Wear, the 6-9 twins UCLA recruited aggressively before they committed to North Carolina in spring. And no, UCLA isn't recruiting Gary Franklin, the 6-0 shooting guard from Mater Dei.

Of course, UCLA watched Kendall Williams, the 6-2 junior guard from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos, who is verbally committed to UCLA. Williams has played fairly well this summer, but performance doesn't necessarily translate into being an elite prospect. Williams has a decent jumper, and has a good feel for passing the ball. His quickness is the real question, not really able to create plays because of a lack of quickness going around defenders, and it also limits him defensively. He has become very good at playing with Honeycutt, knowing Honeycutt's moves, back-door cuts, etc., and being able to get him the ball. But the July Evaluation Period by no means proved Williams in our mind to be an elite, UCLA-level prospect.

In the game where Pump N Run played against Pump Power, Williams faced Jordin Mayes, the 6-1 junior point guard from Los Angeles Westchester. For many observers, it was an illustration of how Mayes is a better point guard prospect, with his ability to create, his handle and point guard feel for the game. UCLA coaches, as we said, watched this game.

The junior guard that put on a show in front of the UCLA coaches was Tyler Lamb, the 6-4 prospect from Ontario (Calif.) Colony. Lamb, who has been struggling with his jump shot, hit a number of them in the game yesterday, while also making a number of athletic moves that had college coaches impressed. Whether it's enough for UCLA to offer Lamb, given that they already have a commitment from Williams and are recruiting other guard/wings in the 2010 class nationally, remains to be seen.

In fact, earlier in the week UCLA assistant coach Donnie Daniels was in Kansas City watching elite junior wing Harrison Barnes from Ames (Iowa) High, who many consider the #1 prospect in the nation. UCLA is on a very long and prestigious list of programs that Barnes is considering.

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