Because the situation with the 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes looks to be a bit strange.
If UCLA, for 2009, doesn't get Michael Snaer, the elite, 6-4 shooting guard from Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde, they'll more than likely still look to give out that scholarship to a shooting guard by spring.
If they do, the scholarship count would be 13 for the 2009-2010 season. Of course, that's dependent on everyone who is on the roster not leaving early for the NBA or leaving the program.
So far during Ben Howland's tenure at UCLA, he has yet to have all 13 scholarships filled for a season.
The most likely scholarship to get back would be that of Jrue Holiday, who, after this season, could be a solid bet to go pro.
It would be highly unlikely, though, that UCLA would give out a sixth scholarship to the 2009 class this spring.
So, for 2010, UCLA could have 4 scholarships available – because even if Holiday doesn't go pro after his freshman season, the odds would increase he would go after his sophomore season. UCLA would recognize this, and recruit next spring like Holiday would likely leave for the NBA in the spring of 2010. With this mindset, UCLA would then have four scholarships to give to 2010 class.
Howland, we know, has been fighting every year to have all thirteen scholarships filled on his roster.
But we think there's a case to be made not to fill all of the potential scholarships available for the 2010 class.
If Holiday does go pro by his sophomore year, and UCLA does give out four scholarships to the 2010 class, that would make them full up for the 2010-2011 season.
But here's where it gets a bit strange. Since UCLA currently doesn't have any sophomores on its roster, there would be no seniors graduating after the 2010-2011 season. That means, if you had filled all 13 rides, you would have no scholarships opening up because of graduation. Then, the only scholarships you could have available for the 2011 high school class would be those that opened up from someone leaving to go pro early or transferring. And that's other than Holiday, since, if you gave out four for 2010, one of those being available would be as a result of him leaving early.
That's not a great basis to recruit from – only having scholarships available if someone leaves the program.
And the thing is, why you want to have scholarships available for 2011 rather than many for 2010 is that, on the west coast, the 2011 class is already shaping up to have far more talent than the 2010 class.
It also will pursue another wing type for 2010.
As everyone knows, its big target in that class is Josh Smith, the 6-9 center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, who is one of the handful of best post prospects in the nation for 2010.
Because, though, UCLA needs scholarships for 2011, it very well might be a case, in terms of post recruiting for 2010, that it's Smith-or-Bust. If UCLA, say, doesn't get Smith, it very well might stand pat for 2010 in terms of post players. Of course, if another truly elite post player wanted to come to UCLA, you wouldn't turn him down. But it very well could be smart to not just take someone to take someone, and pass on anyone other than an elite post prospect. On the roster for the 2010-2011 season would be J'mison Morgan (JR) and Anthony Stover (SO), along with power forward/center Drew Gordon (JR) and power forwards in Brendan Lane (SO) and Reeves Nelson (SO). Even, say, if Morgan left to go pro after his sophomore year (which we think isn't likely), you'd still have enough bodies to man the post positions for that season.
It would seem, then, that it would behoove UCLA, if it doesn't get Smith or another elite post prospect, to hold onto that scholarship for 2011.
So, now that we've navigated through that complicated scholarship situation, here's a non-comprehensive look at UCLA's game plan for 2010 and 2011:
Committed: Kendall Williams, Tyler Lamb
Josh Smith, obviously is a high priority.
The only other clear target for UCLA at this time in the 2010 class is Harrison Barnes, the 6-5 small forward from Ames (Iowa) High, who is the consensus #1 prospect in the 2010 class nationally.
Right now, the word is that UCLA is doing okay with Barnes, but the clear leaders for his services are Duke and Florida. Even hometown Iowa State might be in that second tier behind Duke and Florida. UCLA is probably among the top five.
UCLA could also be close to offering Anthony Brown, the 6-6 prospect from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Ocean View. Brown is a long, talented athlete with skills, who still looks like he physically has a great deal of maturing to do. Brown also comes from a very academic family and there are many close to the situation that feel if UCLA offered the Bruins would be the leader.
It's well-documented that we feel Williams has yet to prove he's a UCLA-level prospect. If he does, it would work out very well for UCLA, to have legitimately talented combo guard in the 2010 class. If he doesn't prove to be worthy, UCLA very well could go after another guard in the 2010 class. Perhaps the most likely would be Jordin Mayes, the 6-1 true point guard from Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester.
After that, there isn't that much really going on with the 2010 class of note, at least, for now.
The class, for UCLA, could be one of the most unusual, since UCLA might only have scholarships to give from players leaving the program.
If Holiday left early, and UCLA only gave out three scholarships to the 2010 class, UCLA would then only have that one to give to the 2011 class.
The other most likely possibility we feel of a scholarship opening up early would come from Malcolm Lee possibly leaving early for the NBA. He would have to leave after his sophomore season for UCLA to have that scholarship in its pocket to recruit the class of 2011 in the spring and summer of 2010. Morgan could possibly be a candidate, but we feel it's unlikely by the end of his sophomore year. But, there could be possibilities that Lee, Morgan and even Jerime Anderson could go pro after their junior years. In terms of scholarships, though, if any of the players in that class went pro after their junior years, the scholarships wouldn't be available until the spring of 2011, which would be very late to recruit the class of 2011.
This also isn't considering scholarships opening up by any players transferring. But again, they'd have to leave by the spring of 2010 for UCLA to know it had the scholarship available to recruit the 2011 class in the spring and summer of 2010.
Why scholarships being available for 2011 is key, like we said above, is because the 2011 class in the west already has a good degree of talent.
Of course, this is not comprehensive, but these are some of the players recognized early on as potentially elite prospects that UCLA could target.
Guards and Wings:
Tony Wroten, 6-4 combo guard, Seattle Garfield. Wroten is commonly listed as the #1 player in the national class of 2011. His recruitment will be a circus, but UCLA will probably be on the short list. He plays on the same AAU team as Josh Smith. He's probably certain to be looking for his best one-and-out situation.
Gelaun Wheelwright, 6-1 combo guard, Corona Centennial. After a couple of viewings, one just recently, Wheelwright is a good bet to be the best guard prospect in the 2011 class in the west. He's athletic and explosive, and looks to have the ability to play either guard position. He's also a very good student and we've heard his dream school is UCLA.
Josiah Turner, 6-0 point guard, Rancho Cordova (Calif.) Cordova. Best pure point in the class, recently verbally committed to ASU. To be blunt, the Sun Devils stole one early from the rest of the elite high majors in the west who were sleeping on Turner.
Luckily, though, if Wheelwright develops, it could greatly soften the blow for UCLA of ASU getting Turner's early commitment.
Nick Johnson, 6-2 shooting guard, Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland. Johnson is skilled and has a chance to be elite level.
Ramon Eaton, 6-6 small forward, Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon. Eaton is a possibility. He, though, has a small forward body now but gets most of his work done around the basket, so he's a bit of a 3-4 tweener at the moment.
Front Court Players:
Kyle Caudill, 6-10 center, Brea (Calif.) Brea-Olinda. He has been working on his body and slimmed down some. His agility still has a ways to go, but he's skilled, and he has a chance to be a UCLA-level prospect.
Angelo Chol, 6-8 center/power forward, San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. Kind of the anti-thesis of Caudill – a great, really long-armed athlete who is still developing skills. But with his hops and long arms he can play above the rim.
Kevin Johnson, 6-9 center, Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Johnson has a great body and good athleticism.
Kyle Wiltjer, 6-8 power forward, Portland (Ore.) Jesuit. Long and skilled, Wiltjer came to UCLA's camp in June and played well.
Norvel Pelle, 6-8 power forward, Compton Dominguez. Great athlete with developing skills, and already a great shot blocker with his length and bounciness.