2009 Hoops Recruiting Update

As the list of UCLA prospects for 2009 narrows, the Bruins will have their biggest recruiting weekend when they have their remaining #1 priority, center Anthony Stover, come in for his official visit...

Anthony Stover, the 6-9 senior center from Los Angeles (Calif.) Windward, will take his official visit to UCLA this weekend.

Stover is coming off his official visit to Arizona last weekend, and reports have him leaning toward the Wildcats.

Stover has also officially visited Creighton and Arizona State in the two weeks prior to the Arizona visit.

It's believed by sources close to the recruitment that it's a UCLA/Arizona battle and the UCLA official visit will go a long way in Stover's decision.

In the last couple of weeks, Stover has started to warm up to UCLA considerably. The UCLA staff has made it clear that Stover would have an impact at UCLA immediately and be able to play as a freshman, and then have a huge impact on the program down the line. Stover, according to sources, has started to recognize that he'd be able to do all this – and stay close to home – and the idea has started to appeal to him.

For Stover, who has been on UCLA's campus four or five times for unofficial visits, it could be a matter of how well he feels he fits in with the team on his official visit. It's anticipated that will be the biggest "slam dunk" of the weekend, since Stover is very much a UCLA-type of kid – a good student from a good family. Also taking his official visit the same weekend is UCLA-committed wing Tyler Honeycutt from Sylmar, who is friends with Stover, the two having played in the same AAU program.

Stover has become UCLA's biggest priority at this point.

If Stover doesn't happen for UCLA, the Bruins are preparing other post options. Deniz Kilicli is a 6-9, 245-pound center prospect from Turkey, who has been in the States for just a few weeks. He'll play his high school ball at Beckley (West Virginia) Mountain State Academy. He, reportedly, is supposed to be very skilled, to go along with a big, physical body. Many college coaches have been out to see him recently, and he's already garnered offers from Kentucky and West Virginia, and interest from Kansas and Texas. A UCLA assistant was at Mountain State to watch him and, like the other elite programs who have shown interest, the issue is whether Kilicli will be eligible to play college ball. Coaches are scrambling to check into his amateur status, and his academic situation from his schooling in Turkey. The opinion is that Kilicli will more than likely be eligible.

UCLA is still showing interest in Kyryl Natyazhko, the 6-10 Ukranian prospect who plays at Brandenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Natyazhko just recently returned from the Ukraine and college coaches are going to Brandenton to check out the prospect.

Other than the center position, UCLA is still trying to find a guard for 2009.

The main target remains Michael Snaer, the elite 6-4 prospect from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde. Snaer has officially visited Missouri, Florida State, and Marquette just this last weekend. He has a visit arranged to go to Kansas in mid-October. The latest we've heard is that Snaer is now deciding between visiting UCLA and Stanford with that fifth visit.

Snaer has unofficially visited UCLA a number of times.

Durand Scott, the 6-5 shooting guard from New York (New York) Rice, who is the #27-ranked player for 2009, is still a possibility, but a longshot. Scott officially visited Pittsburgh last weekend, and will visit Connecticut next weekend, while Miami and Tennessee are also expected to get visits. Scott could possibly visit UCLA sometime in October.

Matt Vogrich, the 6-3 shooting guard prospect from Lake Forest (Ill.) High, will not visit UCLA this weekend. Vogrich has already officially visited Stanford, Notre Dame and Wake Forest, and UCLA is thought to be a bit of a longshot for him. HE could re-schedule his visit for sometime in October.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland was recently in Texas to check out Nick Russell, the 6-4 shooting guard from Arlington Grace Prep at an open gym workout. Russell is the #31-ranked shooting guard prospect in the nation.

Howland has been spending a great deal of time watching the local prospects Stover, Snaer and Honeycutt recently.

A UCLA coach also was out Monday to check out a local 6-4 shooting guard prospect who is flying a bit under the radar. As of right now, it's uncertain if the prospect is a UCLA-level recruit, but he does have very good athleticism, and it might be a matter of the prospect not committing elsewhere early, showing more game his senior season and then waiting until spring to decide.

If UCLA doesn't get Snaer – or even Scott or Vogrich – the Bruins very well could wait until spring to find someone else. The shooting guard position is by far the easiest position in which to find an elite player, and there always seems to be a guy who emerges his senior year. Also, most of the time the elite high majors fill their needs by the November signing period, and UCLA could have less competition for an elite player in spring. While getting a guard is a priority for UCLA in 2009, it might make sense for UCLA to wait and see if an elite prospect emerges during his senior season.

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